A new human rights white paper by a South Korean government-affiliated research institution represents a “political provocation” against the North, a DPRK state media outlet said Friday.
The externally-focused website Uriminzokkiri slammed the “2020 North Korea Human Rights White Paper,” published this week by the Korean Institute for National Unification (KINU), which details the present-day abuses in the country such as public executions and censorship.
The KINU publication is a “grave political provocation against the DPRK, which prioritizes the dignity and rights of our people,” the outlet claims, denouncing it as “rash and confrontational behavior that drives the North-South relations to ruin.”
Uriminzokkiri condemned the white paper’s publication as hypocritical and “irrational” as it comes while “a South Korean person in power” — likely referring to President Moon Jae-in — is emphasizing inter-Korean cooperation.
The website also branded the 503-page-long human rights report as “a provocative booklet made by compiling the excretion of defectors.”
It criticized KINU’s research as inaccurate, claiming it “faked facts that do not exist… insulting and distorting the reality of our republic’s ‘human rights.'”
2020 DPRK HUMAN RIGHTS WHITE PAPER: DEFECTOR TESTIMONIES
KINU, however, says the annual white paper is based on the qualitative survey and interviews of the most recent 118 North Korean defectors, most of whom arrived in the South last year.
These testimonies point to continuing executions — some public — to punish offenses including drug dealing, watching and disseminating South Korean videos, and violent crimes such as murder and rape.
One defector, for example, sas in the report that he witnessed the public execution of a man who shared South Korean movies in Hyesan, Ryanggang Province, in 2014.
Two others say they saw the execution of another Hyesan man on the same charges, and the killing of around twenty South Hwanghae Province residents for drug dealing and distributing South Korean videos in 2017.
Executions were also carried out for possession of Bibles, circulating anti-DPRK propaganda material, and superstitious activities, according to the paper.
KINU noted, however, that public executions may have become less frequent.
INCREASED INFORMATION CENSORSHIP AND BORDER CONTROL
Border control and cell phone usage has become more restrictive under Kim Jong Un’s rule, the report noted.
Punishment for South Korea-related charges in particular appears to have become harsher in recent years.
Unlike in the past, bribes often cannot redeem those who are caught with South Korean videos or talking to South Korean contacts on their phones, according to some defectors.
Among those sent to political prison camps that respondents were aware of, multiple cases were related to defection and receiving money from South Korean contacts.
Making secret phone calls, especially to the South, has reportedly become more difficult lately — especially after “German wiretapping devices” were introduced in 2018.
Indecent jokes, South Korean music, South Korean-style language, and emojis on mobile phones have been recent targets of punishment, defectors told KINU.
However, a few respondents also noted how North Koreans are increasingly asserting their right to privacy, in some cases even objecting to or raising complaints about house searches without warrants.
HEALTHCARE AND RIGHT TO FOOD
While the white paper did not mention COVID-19, some defectors told KINU that the North’s allegedly-universal healthcare system is not functioning.
Most of the time patients pay for medicines and other fees required for treatment, and healthcare facilities discriminate based on social status, the report said.
Increased sanctions have been intertwined with the infringement of citizens’ right to food, leading to the halt or decrease in remaining rations, it added.
65 out of 118 defectors surveyed by KINU reportedly left North Korea in 2019, while others apparently spent some time outside the country between 2014 to 2018 before entering the South.
60% of the respondents were from Ryanggang Province near the Sino-DPRK border, followed by 22% from North Hamgyong Province — meaning that the survey results may be overrepresentative of certain regions.
Edited by James Fretwell
A new human rights white paper by a South Korean government-affiliated research institution represents a "political provocation" against the North, a DPRK state media outlet said Friday.
The externally-focused website Uriminzokkiri slammed the "2020 North Korea Human Rights White Paper," published this week by the Korean Institute for National Unification (KINU), which details the present-day abuses in the country such as public executions and censorship.