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North Korea & US Essay Sample

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North Korea & US Essay Sample

North Korea’s human rights record poses a great challenge to the free world. North Korea executes political prisoners and repatriated refugees; it performs forced abortions and commits infanticide on small kids; it suppresses religious freedom; engages in routine and severe torture and operates a network of prison camps where conditions are extremely harsh and non conducive for human survival hence many prisoners are not expected to survive. There was a refugee who had sought refuge in Korean school located in Beijing only to be returned to be repatriated back to North Korea forcibly by the Chinese despite her imploring for protection from Chinese government and the UN. Currently, her condition is unknown whether she is alive or dead.

During the regime of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, he committed human-rights abuses and atrocities against his people and the United State was actually unable to do anything about North Korea’s human-rights situation. The situation was as appalling as inaction in the face of the Holocaust, the killing fields in Cambodia, or the genocide in Rwanda. In North Korea prisoners witnessed mass starvation, torture and abuse of repatriated refugees. Some of the prisoners were beaten and electrocuted by officials and then their fingers were broken. The United Nation Commission on Human Rights in Geneva passed a resolution of censure citing North Korea’s extensive and grave human-rights abuses hence calling for investigation by United Nation reporters. Being a forerunner in the Developed world and a member of the United Nations Security Council, many people argued that the United States should demonstrate its concern for degradation of human rights of the North Korean people, without going to war. This act would open gates for allocation of  funds to assist non governmental humanitarian organizations working without authority in China as part of the daring channel for North Korean refugees. The North Korea Human Rights Act would enable substantial numbers of North Korean refugees to apply and receive a secure retreat in the US.

The panel representing the political and human rights situation in North Korea were Dr. Choi Woonsang, the former ambassador of Jamaica, Egypt, Morocco, and India, Mr. Howard Young, a South Korean rights activist and Mr. Park Kwang Il. Also included was a North Korean high school teacher who was arrested and detained by security agents but he escaped to China.

By the mid 1990’s it was reported that at least two million people of North Korean population had been starved to death. North Koreans who defect to China are haunted by fear of arrests, both by the North Korean secret police and the Chinese police. A report by Mr. Young stated that the detainees perceived as wrongdoers, political prisoners and family members reaching almost three generations are also detained in camps due to guilt by association without any judicial process or legal resources. They spend their life in mining, timber cutting or farming under brutal living conditions which are worse than that of wild animals.

Educating the North Korean people about democracy and human rights is something of utmost importance. Refugee camps set up in neighboring countries would offer a helping hand to the North Koreans. There have been calls by China, Russia, South Korea, Japan and the US to pressure the North Korean on human rights and nuclear weapons issues.

The politics of North Korea take place within a democratic multiparty. Though in practice North Korea functions are as a dominant party state, which is actually considered as de facto totalitarian Stalinist dictatorship and the Economic Intelligence Unit. It was admitted that there is no consensus on how to measure democracy in North Korea. This concept was created by the founder of the North Korean state Kim II Sung and his son who was his successor. North Korea’s political system is built on the principle of centralization. While the law guaranteed the protection of human right and democratic government, most of the power is vested within the hands of a ruling elite dominated by Kim Jong-il the de-facto leader of the country.

The ruling party was the Workers Party of Korea (WPK) which was thought to allow some inner party democracy. It ruled from 1948 when Korea attained independence. Two other minor political parties existed but they were legally bound to accept the ruling role of the WPK. Elections occurred only in single candidate races where the candidate was been selected by the WPK. Kim II Sung served as a General Secretary and Korean president from 1948 until his death in 1994 July. The constitution of North Korea states that the Democratic People Republic of Korea shall train all the citizens to be builders of socialism and communism through carrying out a thorough cultural revolution. The military status has been enhanced and it occupies the centre of North Korea political system.

North Korea is a democratic republic according to the constitution. The Supreme People’s Assembly and provincial People’s Assemblies are both elected by direct universal suffrage through secret ballot. Suffrage is guarantee to all Koreans over the age of 17. Elections in North Korea are not competitive and only have single candidate races. Representatives of the Supreme People’s Assembly are elected trough a free election. The Workers’ Party selects a devoted party member with inspiring background for each election district and he or she is nominated as a single candidate. Other parties might have different methods and then the voters select a candidate. The elected candidates are members of the Democratic front for the reunification of the Fatherland, a coalition which was made of three parties. The other two minor parties in the coalition are Chondoist Chongu Party and the Korean Social Democratic Party and they had fewer elected officials. The WPK exercises control over the candidates selected for election by members of the other two parties.

The political party traditionally controlled the military in North Korea since the Korean War when it began to dispatch political officials to the military. Party committees started to organize within military in October 1950. Some people believed that the military centered political system of current year and may be damaging the party control over the military.  Kim Jong Il treated the military better than ever this was through frequent visit events and in places associated with military and promoting military officials in their official power hierarchy.

North Korean politics are dominated by their adversary relationship with South Korea. North Korea aligned with the Soviet Union and the people republic of China during the Cold War. North Korean government invested a lot in military hoping to develop the capability to reunify Korea by force and also preparing to repel any attack by traditional enemies South Korea, Japan, the United State. North Korea developed an ideology Juche based on a high degree of economic independence and mobilization of all the resources of the nation to defend itself against foreign powers which were a threat to the country’s sovereignty.

North Korea faced a long period of economic crisis including severe agricultural and industrial shortages but Soviet Union supplied it with economic aid. North Korea political issue was to find a way to sustain its economy and retain the internal stability of its government and its ability to respond to perceived external threats.

Widespread starvation, increased migration are some of the factors evidencing imminent collapse of the regime but North Korea has remained stable despite more than a decade of such predictions. The WPK maintains a monopoly on political power and Kim Jong-il remained the leader of the country ever since he first gained power after the death of his father.

North Korea judiciary is headed by the Central Court consisting of Chief Justice and two assessors although 3 judges may be present at some cases. Their terms of office coincide with those of the members of the Supreme People Assembly (SPA). North Korea courts have the same composition as the Central Court. The judicial system is held accountable to the SPA. North Korea judiciary does not normally practice judicial review.

The reason as to why United States is focusing so much attention on North Korean human rights is; because of a law which was unanimously passed by the Congress in 2004 saying that the United State should play a leadership role in formulating international solutions to this profound humanitarian dilemma. The Congress and it President strongly believes it is in the interest of the U.S. and the free world to encourage democracy and respect for human rights in North Korea. According to the State Department’s recent annual human rights report there is a logical outgrowth of nations that does not respect the rights of its citizens and a conclusion that they are nations also do not respect the rights of their neighbors. Indeed, North Korea threats other nations including our own by building a nuclear arsenal and trafficking drugs and human beings.

 Government conduct at home naturally influences conduct toward other nations. In the 20th century we see numerous examples of this correlation, With Hitler, Stalin, Mao and others, the march of tyranny at their country was an antecedent to international aggression. Hence making human rights part of our national security agenda and is not only an appropriate policy but also a necessary one.

A bill in the House of Representatives in the United State has been amended and recommended for passage by the House International Relations Committee this would see North Korean Human Rights Act embracing human rights issues to enable it dealings with the US and give all economic assistance to North Korea to improve human-rights conditions such as no aid without indication that those human right conditions are improving. The US would call for increased pressure on the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to demand access to North Korean refugees in China and it would call for heightened diplomatic pressure on China to halt its policy of catching and repatriating North Korean refugees. But in reality what could the North Korean Human Rights Act accomplish if its goals and methods are not integrated into Washington’s overall diplomatic strategy toward Pyongyang.

This would make it even harder for US government to appropriate any economic assistance to North Korea if there are no strong human-rights conditions attached. This brings implications for the six party nuclear talks. United States does not have the power to make China and Russia set up refugee camps since even China has shown no indication of reversing it policy of repatriating North Koreans refugees who flee over the border, insisting they are not refugees but economic migrants. Even the people who are in Washington who support the act, their goals are not optimistic that China can change its policy or the UNHCR is likely to be permitted to assist these refugees in China. The lack of coordination between the still non existent North Korean Human Rights Act and US nuclear diplomacy only serves to weaken this change. If US fail in the effort to resolve the nuclear issue between North Korea and a transfer of weapons of mass destruction technology to non state players, then human rights or the political prisoners in North Korea where do they stand next to the World Trade Center disaster in America?

Raising human right concern will hamper more immediate security concerns like North Korea’s nuclear arsenal. Discussion of human right issues is legitimate but it asserts that this is an issue to be worked out by North and South Korea a notion that must be rejected.

Focusing on human right forestall agreement that alleviates immediate security concerns. Some urge US to focus only on the nuclear issue and mention of human rights will distract the parties involved from reaching a conclusive agreement. Though I would suggest they highlight human rights issues rather than stopping the progression of security talks reinforced for the North Koreans.

A main concern is China’s refusal to treat refugees’ in humane manner and be consistent with a treaty that was ratified by both China and the United States. The Chinese are not only putting the refugees at risk by forcibly returning them to North Korea but also violating a binding international agreement. The agreement contains a clause for arbitration in the absence of non compliance something that need to be considered by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees absent improvement by China government.

The abduction of Korean citizens by agents of foreign government is not a noble act of state sponsored terrorism and perhaps it is the most flagrant example of North Korea lawlessness

Absence of US response to North Korean nuclear weapons development programmes appears to go against the realities of international non proliferation norms. Through the long term perspective, the uninterrupted US have been paying a high price in terms of fighting against the international terrorist. North Korean gulag as well as the South Korean leader of the movement for human rights in South Korea was rewarded for their increased support of human right.

US will also seek to increase flow of information going into North Korea hence piercing the veil of darkness and deception that Kim Jung Il has drawn over North Korea. Kim Jung II government attempts to control all information of his country. Through enhanced radio broadcasting and many other forms of information dissemination seek to lift the blockade on information that the government has imposed on its people.

The United States would pursue a policy that has freedom and respect for the individual as its cornerstone. The promotion of human rights is certainly an important end in and of itself, and therefore a clear objective of our policy. But it is also a critical means to end America’s effort to extend freedom and security across the globe.

Brownback a republican senator of Kansas and the chairman of senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs warned that history will judge a government that fails to do something about North Korea’s and estimated 200,000 political prisoners, reported chemical and biological weapons experiments on human beings and the brutal punishment of thousands of North Korean refugees after they are caught in China and repatriated.


US Committee for Foreign Relations, North Korea: US Policy Options, (United States Government Printer, 2006)

  1. Cronin, Double Trouble: Iran and North Korea as Challenges to International Security, (Greenwood Publishing Group, 2008)
  2. Feffer, North Korea South Korea: US Policy at a Time of Crisis, (Seven Stories Press, 2003)
  3. Park, The US and Two Koreas: A New Triangle, (Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1997)
  4. Richardson, Perspectives on US Policy towards North Korea, (Lexington Books, 2006)
  5. Chah, D. Kang, Nuclear North Korea: A Debate on Engagement Strategies, (Columbia University Press, 2003)
  6. Lennon, C. Eiss, Reshaping Rogue States, (MIT Press, 2004)

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