It seems to me that Kim Jong Il’s birthday is a good day to reflect upon the fact that the regimes of North Korea and China are this world’s most depraved and dangerous abominations. The former constitutes “the world’s greatest ongoing atrocity,” and the latter, which appears to compete for that honour, has an ever-growing sphere of influence reflecting its ambition to become the leading world power. So the question ought to be asked, What do you suppose are the prospects if the “international community” continues to shrink from the firmness of commitment that these times require? Before you answer, consider the following.
China sustains the world’s most brutal dictatorships, including North Korea’s, arming the genocidaires and keeping the business of political murder and state corruption afloat. Within its borders, oppression and mass detention of citizens, who are tortured and whose organs in some cases are “harvested,” and beyond its borders the flooding of neighbouring client states with ethnic Chinese, in an attempt to overwhelm indigenous resistance. It is no longer the Western powers driving the colonization of Africa: that effort is now coordinated from Beijing. This last item alone represents an enormous Great Leap Backward, and a depressing indication of where things are headed.
Meanwhile it has been a bad winter in North Korea, and the people are starving. The regime of Kim Jong Il keeps the populace submissive not only through starvation but through systemic terror as well. Among the many crimes in North Korea is the buying and selling of food, the punishment being internment in a concentration camp, of which there are a large number throughout the country. Earlier this month, a Subcommittee of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development heard testimony from Dr. Norbert Vollertsen, Kyung B. Lee, and Hye Sook Kim about these camps and the plight of refugees who flee North Korea to China. Here is an excerpt from the presentation of Ms. Hye Sook Kim (the full transcript may be found here):
Compared to when I was in the camp in 2002, I think the detention camp situation was even more dire. There was one lady I had known from when I was there before. She was about 43 years of age and her husband had died in a mining accident within the prisoner camp. She had been living with a 16-year-old son. Now, this lady, since her husband had died, had to go into the mines to work. She would get the ration of rice for her son and herself. She had gone out to work, but in the meantime her son had opened the rice to eat because he was starving. The mother was outraged and hit her son with an axe and he died. After he died, she took the flesh off the dead body and told other people that it was pork and sold it.
I didn’t know at that time that she had killed her son, but later on I heard that this is what she had done. I had received a packet from her that the guards had taken and what I saw was eyeballs that were hanging from some flesh. The officials of the camp saw that. They told me about what had happened in that woman’s family. Since that woman was a murderer, she was taken somewhere else. I don’t know where. There were various other incidents like this that happened within the camp. There was a 38-year-old farmer who had a nine-year-old girl who suffered from a high fever. This mother thought that she would maybe just eat her daughter and then kill herself. So she boiled her nine-year-old daughter in boiling water and ate some of the flesh from her body. She had just a bit of salt in her household and she was eating the flesh with some salt. One of the security guards saw that there was smoke coming from her chimney and he went in and saw what had happened. I’m pretty sure that the woman was executed afterwards. That was the suffering that I saw in the camp.
And, here, Dr. Norbert Vollertsen:
When I entered North Korea I experienced nothing. There were no trees, no birds, no rice, no meat — only a broken, failed state of starving people. When you think about hunger, most of you think about hunger in Africa. It’s like Africa, but it’s cold outside, like here in Canada right now, and that will kill the people in North Korea — the coldness in winter and no input, no calories, and no heating system. In summer there’s diarrhea because of all the bad water. There’s contamination all over, and all the people are dying because of spreading infections. […] My main medical diagnosis in North Korea was starvation, no medicine, tuberculosis, and all the spreading diseases. But my main observation as a medical doctor, as a general physician by training in Germany, was that there was depression. All the people looked fed up and exhausted, with no future, no hope for any change, drawing propaganda from early daytime until the evening, with parade after parade. They were fed up, and there’s a lot of alcoholism and despair.
The closed nature of North Korea makes it difficult to calculate the number of Kim Jong Il’s victims, but it is not improbable that two hundred thousand persons are now in the concentration camps, and that the number of those who have died of hunger is in the millions. The policy of forced labour, mass-starvation, and mass-imprisonment serves North Korea’s Maoist-styled program of military buildup and elite privilege, at the centre of which is “Office 39” — a group of North Koreans engaged in weapons and uranium trafficking (in Syria, Iran, and Pakistan, for examples, and again with Chinese assistance), money laundering, counterfeiting of goods, and the narcotics trade. From the proceeds of these comes the private slush fund denominated “Office 38,” which keeps Kim Jong Il flush with cognac, lobster, caviar, and numerous other luxury items, both for his own gluttonous consumption and for the buying of loyalty.
A group of NGO activists today delivered an “unwelcome birthday gift” to Kim Jong Il in the form of unification balloons. As these balloons floated over the so-called demilitarized zone, carrying 100,000 propaganda leaflets into North Korea, Lee Do Ah read a statement that notes “the succession from Kim Jong Il to Kim Jong Eun is a violation of the universal and reasonable values of human beings and a tragic act against history.” There now being some evidence that Kim Jong Il’s regime is feeling the pinch of recent US measures, targeted, non-military sanctions against the Office 39 crime syndicate of North Korea should be even more firmly enforced. My own wish is that this shall be Kim Jong Il’s last birthday as a slow-motion mass murderer, and that the succession of his sadistic offspring never occur. What a good year’s work that would be, and the sooner the better.
Every day in the interim North Koreans will endure terrible hunger and the enforced adoration of the Dear Leader. On the topic of hunger, Hye Sook Kim made a special point of saying
I come before the Parliament of Canada and the Government of Canada because what I really would like to do is say that all the rice and all the support you send to North Korea never goes to the people anyway. All the feed material you send for the animals — well, that goes to the people. Feed for animals and cows goes to the North Korean people. You need something in your belly to survive, so I think food support is probably the most important, but we need to remember what kind of food actually reaches the North Koreans.
In other words, support the people but be under no illusion concerning the wickedness of the rulers. So, to reiterate: What do you really think are the prospects if the international community continues to shrink from the firmness of commitment that these times require?