An editorial in North Korea’s state-run Rodong Sinmun on Tuesday blasted human rights complaints by the United States as a “red herring” and “trite trick” to delegitimize the noble regime of Kim Jong-un.
Coincidentally, the previous day’s edition of the UK Daily Mail carried the story of a North Korean escapee who recalled eating dried vomit to survive while imprisoned in a labor camp.
Fully aware that North Korea will face hard questions about its hideous human rights record during negotiations with the United States, Rodong Sinmun published the regime’s latest effort to sweep the issue off the table:
The U.S. is now vociferating about the non-existent “human rights issue” of the DPRK. This is aimed to stifle the DPRK at any cost by inciting the atmosphere against it in the international arena. The U.S. and its vassal forces are conducting base red herring by mobilizing criminals and imposters, who are hurling mud at the DPRK after selling everything of human being for a petty amount of money and fabricating their names and careers.
The U.S. has persistently denied the reality of the DPRK in a bid to prevent the deceptive nature of its false propaganda from being brought to light.
All countries aspiring after the independence should remain vigilant against the U.S. red herring and resolutely smash it.
The escapee described by the Daily Mail used the name “Charles.” He escaped from North Korea into his father’s ancestral land of China five years ago, his father having fled there when he was a little boy. His mother died of starvation when he was eleven.
Charles himself was able to escape to China and meet his father again in 2008, but unfortunately the Chinese deported him back to North Korea, where he was accused of attempting to defect to South Korea and beaten for weeks by regime thugs.
He was then reportedly bundled off to one of those labor camps Rodong Sinmun claims are a figment of Western imaginations:
“In the labor camp I was only allowed to eat 150 kernels of corn a day,” Charles added.
“One morning we were marching in our rows and I saw dried vomit on the side of the road. … I was so hungry that I got on my hands and knees and started eating the rice from the vomit. I didn’t stop until the beating from the guards was too unbearable.”
Eight months later Charles was released because he could barely stand up or lift his arms.
After months of recovery—he began working in a coal mine where he was paid only in rice.
After watching some of his co-workers get dismembered by falling rocks in the hellish pit of the North Korean coal mine, Charles made another run for the Chinese border and managed to pull off a harrowing escape:
He spent months in hiding—being hunted by the police at every turn.
“I made it by train to a town near the border when a guard put his hand on the back of my neck and dragged me to a holding cell in the train. … As the train began to slow down for a stop—I saw a window was unlocked so I pushed it open and squeezed out of the small opening. … I jumped off the moving train and began sprinting. I ran for hours, illegally boarded a second train and two days later made it to the border.”
Charles’ final obstacle to freedom, he tells the Daily Mail, was a waist-deep river he had to wade across. He slipped on a rock and screamed, alerting a North Korean border card who pinned him in a spotlight beam and threatened to shoot him if he did not come back. Charles says he kept wading, and for some reason the guard did not shoot. Happily, he was able to obtain an American visa and reportedly settled in California, where he learned English, graduated from high school, and became a sushi chef.
There is not much the international community truly agrees upon, but North Korea’s status as the most repressive authoritarian state on Earth is one of them. Human rights organizations and the United Nations have urged the United States to keep these issues on the table when President Donald Trump meets with dictator Kim Jong-un in June, assuming the summit goes forward.
Trump’s primary objective in these talks appears to be verifiable denuclearization, and a major part of reaching that goal, Trump seems to believe, involves assuring Kim that his regime will survive. A fair hearing of his crimes against humanity would be a far graver threat to his survival than the chimerical U.S.-South Korean-Japanese invasion Pyongyang constantly fantasizes about.
The oppression and brutality of the North Korean government are too widespread to be addressed with a few show trials of lower-ranking fall guys and the decommissioning of a few prison camps. Far too much of the regime’s image is based on its notion of absolute righteousness and the spiritual leadership of the entire Korean people, including those who live south of the DMZ.