North Korea should be charged with crimes against humanity

Eight reasons why North Korea should be charged with crimes against humanity

The United Nation’s dossier of atrocities detail some of the crimes that might one day be heard at the Hague

Racial purity

The regime, which believes in a “pure Korean race”, disapproves of ethnically mixed children, especially those conceived to men from neighbouring China, where many North Koreans seek refuge and are then sent home. One witness saw officials put a repatriated woman’s new-born baby in a bucket and take it away. They said it “does not deserve to live because it is impure”.

Starving nation

During North Korea’s great famine in the 1990s, between 600,000 and 2.5 million people died of hunger as the regime obstructed the delivery of aid to the worst-affected regions and punished those who tried to earn or smuggle in food to survive.

Stunted generation

Between 2003 and 2008, 45 per cent of children under five in the DPRK were stunted due to malnutrition. Mr Kirby’s report said: “causing or aggravating prolonged and severe starvation to large numbers of people, with the knowledge that this will result in starvation and related severe suffering in the ordinary course of events, can constitute an inhumane act of a nature amounting to a crime against humanity.”

Echoes of Nazi death camps

According to one witness, Kim Gwang-il, there were hundreds of deaths during his two years and five months at Ordinary Prison Camp No. 12. Mr Kim was himself involved in the disposal of the bodies of over 100 prisoners, whose bodies would be heaved on a large cart and driven away to be burnt. The ash used as fertiliser.

Mr Kirby said: “These images reminded me of what awaited General Eisenhower and General Montgomery when they arrived at the camps in occupied Europe in 1945.”

Forced confessions

Children in North Korea are introduced at an early age to “confession and criticism” sessions. Children gather in groups weekly and take turns standing up and showing how they were living in accordance with the teachings of the Kim philosophy. They are also expected to describe the failings of at least one of their peers in the same group. Until they identify someone for criticism, they are not allowed to stand down.

Mass rituals

100,000 children take part every year in the Mass Games, a minutely-choreographed display in honour of the regime. Training lasts for ten hours a day over six months, and is so intense that some participants faint from exhaustion. A boy who died as a result of training during acute appendicitis was treated as a hero because he had dedicated his entire life for an event in the presence of Kim Jong-il.

Trivial terror

Some North Korean exiles have faced torture and imprisonment “for doing nothing more than watching foreign soap operas on DVDs”, according to Mr Kirby.


The North Korean regime is estimated to have kidnapped 200,000 foreigners since 1950, including women abducted so they could be taken as wives. One girl, Megumi Yokota, 13, vanished on her way home from school in Japan in 1977, and was one of 13 Japanese that Kim Jong-il later admitted to kidnapping to help train spies. Pyongyang has said eight of them are dead, including Megumi.