When Kim Jong-un came into power after his father’s death, many hoped it would be a new era of moderate leadership and perhaps even gradual liberalization. Instead, Jong-un has proven to be arguably more ruthless than even his father, executing close family members on a whim and committing numerous other atrocities. Now, a recent report by the United Nations has bluntly stated that North Korea’s leaders must face justice.
Of course, a report from the United Nations carries little weight in regards to arrests and prosecutions. It could, however, increase international pressure on North Korea’s leaders and certainly damages their reputation abroad.
United Nations report part of a year-long investigation
The report was conducted over the course of a year-long investigation carried out by UN-appointed experts. Chaired by Michael Kirby, a panel of experts recommended that a formal inquiry be launched by an international court or tribunal.
The investigators heard testimonies from several North Koreans. One woman claimed that she was forced to drown her own baby. Other accusations charge that families are tortured for things as mundane as watching foreign television shows, and that people are regularly enslaved and starved.
North Korea was provided with an early copy of the report before its release, but refused to respond. Since the release of the report, the reclusive nation has denied all charges and argues that it is merely a propaganda piece.
Much of this information was already public knowledge; however, the inquiry by the UN Commission represents the highest level attempt to investigate and implicate North Korean leaders for their crimes against humanity.
Life in North Korea resembles Orwell’s 1984
George Orwell seems to have known far ahead of time what life would be like in North Korea. According to firsthand accounts, thousands of prisoners are held in work camps for political reasons. Meanwhile, neighborhood watch programs have neighbors spying on one another, while the population is divided up in terms of perceived loyalty to the administration.
International intervention, however, remains unlikely. North Korea is armed to the teeth and features one of the world’s largest standing armies. North Korea also possesses some nuclear weapons, and South Korea’s major cities are well within range of its conventional missiles.
The UN called for North Korea to allow international monitors in. The reclusive nation will almost certainly reject outside interference. Even if the United Nations tries to refer North Korea to the International Criminal Court, China will most likely veto the move. While China has become increasingly frustrated by North Korea’s actions, it will likely not look to destabilize a country sitting right on its borders.