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North Korea's Gulags

Claudia Rosett

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More Marxist/Communist brutality coming to light.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003 12:01 a.m. EDT

The latest hallucination of geopolitics has it that if only we can make North Korea's Great Leader Kim Jong Il feel safe from the fate of Saddam Hussein, maybe he'll stop testing missiles and making nuclear bombs. So the experts--whose ranks have now swelled to include, alas, even President George W. Bush--have been scrambling for ways to make Kim feel more secure.

Bad mistake. Even in the exquisitely complex realms of geopolitics, there comes a point at which right and wrong really do matter. Ensuring the safety of monsters is not only an invitation to even more trouble ahead, it is also wrong. Before Mr. Bush says another word about security for North Korea's regime, before any more policy makers suggest any more deals to gratify Kim Jong Il's deep appetite for his own ease and longevity, there's a report the entire civilized world needs to read--released today by the Washington-based U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea. In landmark depth and detail, this report documents the filthiest of all Kim's backroom projects: North Korea's vast system of political prisons, which underpin Kim's precious security right there in his own home.

Not that North Korea's longstanding gulag has been a complete secret. Though Kim's regime denies its existence, and foreign observers have no access to it whatever, enough people have escaped North Korea in recent years to provide substantial testimony about conditions inside the country, and even inside the prison camps. A handful of defectors have told their tales to U.S. congressional committees, some have published books, and dozens have given interviews here and there. In the past year, as Kim's nuclear industry has bumped him up in the headlines, Western journalists have been piecing together damning portraits of Kim and his regime. Information has at last stacked up high enough to suggest that in North Korea, existence as a political prisoner is a particularly hideous business.

This new report, titled, "The Hidden Gulag: Exposing North Korea's Prison Camps," tells us how. It pieces together much of what we know from scattered sources already, and adds in-depth interviews with 30 North Koreans who have experienced the prison camps firsthand, some as prisoners, some as guards. And it sums up the findings--complete with a "Glossary of North Korean Repression" and a set of recommendations on how we might challenge North Korea's Kim on this absolutely indefensible, utterly inhuman aspect of his system.

Compiled by veteran human rights researcher David Hawk, who worked on documenting such events as the Cambodian genocide of the 1970s and Rwandan slaughter of the 1990s, this 120-page document provides the most thorough account yet of what Mr. Hawk described to me in a phone interview this week as an elaborate institution of grotesque abuse that even among the most terrible prison systems on the planet ranks as "the worst." (The report should be available this afternoon at http://www.hrnk.org/.)

Read the entire article on the Wall Street Opinion Journal website.

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Copyright 2001-2018 OrthodoxyToday.org. All rights reserved. Any reproduction of this article is subject to the policy of the individual copyright holder. See OrthodoxyToday.org for details.

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