Updated: Mar 14, 2021


Ever since the beginning of dictatorship in the year 1948, the people of North Korea are denied even the basic human rights. People are restricted in almost all aspects of life and are forcefully kept under control. After Kim-II Sung declared himself as the leader of North Korea his family keeps the entire nation under vehement control till today.

Human rights violation, being at its heights, people of this country live a life of punishment. Speech, information, education, religion and several other fundamental components of dignified life are made unavailable to the citizens of North Korea. In his seventh year of power, the third leader of the Kim Family, Kim Jong-Un, holds ultimate control over the nation with the strictest foreign policies.

This paper aims to highlight the restrictions imposed upon the North Koreans and the barbaric approaches of the regime.

Keywords: Human Rights, North Korea, Kim, control, restrictions.

Restrictions on freedom

Denial of Freedom of Movement:

North Korean people are not permitted to leave their country without the permission of the regime. Sometimes, the people are restricted from movement even within the country. Only if the citizens have a specific purpose and prior permission to travel to another part of the country, they can travel. Pyongyang is the capital and that is where most of the resources are concentrated. Non-residents of Pyongyang are mostly denied access.[1] Moreover, the regime also relocated thousands of North Korean people to less favourable parts as a form of punishment and persecution.

Denial of Freedom of Speech:

People of North Korea are not permitted to express their views. There is no freedom to the press within the country. Moreover, people are ruthlessly punished for expressing their dislike towards the regime. Any criticism of the regime would turn out to be fatal to the person criticizing as well as his family. People are forcefully made to keep their mouths shut. Only the regime has the authority to express, convey, order or perform anything that involves voicing out.

Denial of Freedom of Information:

The regime of North Korea is clear about the fact that outside information would definitely turn out to be a threat to their policies and ideas. One of the foremost aims of the regime is to maintain information blockade.[2] This was intended to keep hold of its control over the people. Monopoly information system, where the people are allowed to know only what the regime conveys is the only source of information. Moreover, it is illegal for any citizen to own a tunable radio and no access to the internet is provided except for some monitored officials. Landlines and mobiles of North Korea are prohibited from international calls.

Denial of Religious Freedom:

Any organized religious sect is viewed as a threat to the regime. Therefore, no religious place of worship is allowed to be constructed. Only token churches are in existence in order to exhibit pseudo-religious freedom to the foreign visitors. Thousands of Buddhists and Christians were punished and prosecuted. Secretly practicing religion is considered to be a heinous crime and people doing so are mercilessly punished by public execution and prison camps

Dismissal of Public Health:

In 1952, the North Korean Government began providing basic health facilities to all North Korean nationals. But reality is that health services and medicine are available only for people who can afford it. Majority of North Koreans are affected with poverty related diseases.

Food Shortage:

Since 1990, North Korean people have faced food shortages as there is an inability to purchase agricultural products and food imports. Many malnourished babies and children, nursing mothers and pregnant women suffered and are still suffering till this date. An entire generation of North Koreans are facing health problems.

Forced Leadership:

North Korea is ruled by the Kim family for 3 generations. North Korean citizens are forced to show complete devotion towards the Kim family and the current leader, Kim Jong-Un. Starting from preschool till universities, the curriculum for students is about the history of Kim’s family.[3]

Songbun System:

One of the most important elements in the social structure in North Korea is Songbun. This system determines whether North Koreans are allowed to live the capital or not, the workplace they’re allocated, what type of education one can receive, treatment by criminal justice system and party membership.[4]

Refugee Exploitation:

North Korean refugees face extreme difficulties after they arrive in China. The refugees live in a precarious and desperate situation. The Chinese Government refuses to recognize North Korean refugees.[5] As a result, the refugees are forced to remain in hiding and they are exploited and abused. If refugees are caught, they are sent back to North Korea and would face harsh punishment.

Sex Trafficking:

Many North Korean women refugees who escape from North Korea to China are sexually exploited and sold as slaves. Women and children who escape are forced into prostitution or marriage in China.[6] Few people are offered jobs but eventually they are trafficked and are forced to marry poor Chinese farmers. Women who cannot speak Chinese are held as prisoners by traffickers.

Stateless Children:

Around 10,000 children are born to North Korean refugee mothers and Chinese fathers. These children face many difficulties. Because of their mother’s illegal status, they are stateless children.[7] These children are not recognized by both Chinese and North Korean Government. Stateless children are not given basic rights like access to education and other state services. These children are excluded from receiving basic health facilities.

Political Prison Camps:

Political prison camps are located in Central and Northeastern North Korea. These camps are for people accused of political offences and are run by the State Security Department. There are 5 political prison camps that hold around 80,000 – 120,000 people. These prisoners are forced to do dangerous slave work and are starved to death. Anyone who tries to escape, they are publicly executed.[8]

Collective Punishments:

In North Korea, fair trial is not conducted and the prisoner and his family members are sent to concentration camps. Most people imprisoned in these camps are not guilty of any crimes but were related to someone who committed the crime. People who are committed with serious political crimes are sentenced to life imprisonment and two generations of their family are born in concentration camps.

Public Executions:

North Korea is one of the 4 countries that practice public execution.[9] The North Korean Government publicly executes its citizens who are held guilty for various crimes like murder, robbery, rape, piracy, vandalism etc. These persons are executed mostly by firing squads. The whole community including their own children is made to watch the execution to create fear amongst the people.














Authors -

Mrunalini Srinivasan

Student of SASTRA University.

R. Muthu Srinithi

Student of SASTRA University.

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