Protecting Fundamental Freedoms

Newest member of UK Board of Directors shares personal thoughts on North Korea

Martin Uden is the former Co-ordinator of the Panel of Experts assigned to monitor sanctions against North Korea for the United Nations.

Martin Uden is the former Co-ordinator of the Panel of Experts assigned to monitor sanctions against North Korea for the United Nations.

Around the world, many wondered whether the disappearance of Kim Jong Un from public view meant that a regime change had occurred in North Korea. This fascination with the unknown typifies the lack of information that we have from Pyongyang. But in some areas we truly do know what the world’s most repressive regime is doing – and that is frightening enough.

From my time in the United Nations enforcing sanctions against North Korea, I know that their regime poses a serious threat to international peace and security. This threat goes beyond their testing of nuclear weapons and their development of missile technology designed to hold the civilian populations of other countries hostage to nuclear blackmail.

I know the North Korean regime has a history of partnering with rogue nations whose leaders threaten international peace and deny the fundamental freedoms of their own citizens. It is not an accident that North Korean weapons and personnel often turn up behind the scenes of some of the world’s greatest atrocities and wars and in the most unstable areas of the world.

I also know that North Korea has an extensive concentration camp system that is designed to eliminate entire families – men, women and children – through starvation, torture and extermination. Nearly 70 years ago, the world pulled back the curtain at Nuremberg on the most heinous crimes in modern history and swore that they would never happen again. But a slow-motion massacre, a continuing crime against humanity, has been underway in North Korea for most of the last half century.

Finally, I know that isolated, unpopular and murderous regimes are all doomed to fail – and it cannot happen quickly enough for those threatened by their nuclear weapons or trapped for generations in the living hell of their gulags.

For all of these reasons, I know that it is imperative to alert everyone who cares about human rights to the waking nightmare that is the North Korean regime.

That is why I am proud to serve as a board member of Human Liberty.

Five North Korean Activities More Threatening than Testing Missiles?


North Korean soldiers monitor the demilitarized zone.

Few doubt the threat to human liberty posed by the North Korean regime within the borders of North Korea. But what about the threat this regime poses to those outside its borders? This question often gets raised in the wake of the latest missile test or the most recent evidence North Korea is working on the bomb. And while the world focuses on these potential threats, the regime continues to carry out real threats to life and liberty beyond it’s borders and has done so for years.

Here are just a few examples of how the North Korean regime has not only threatened those outside it’s borders but actually committed crimes against human liberty:

1. Supplying Meth to the United States
The recent detainment and extradition last November of five foreign nationals for trial in the United States is further evidence of how the regime is directly attacking foreign borders by supporting and spreading the epidemic of methamphetamine use in other countries.

2. Providing Weapons to Syria
As the world works for a cease-fire solution to the atrocities on human life and liberty in the ongoing Syrian civil war, North Korea’s contribution to the effort is to provide those who repress human rights with weapons to sustain the repression.

3. Assisting Iran with their Proliferation
The North Korean regime has a history of partnering with like-minded nation-states who seek to deny the fundamental freedoms of their own citizens and who have a mandate to eradicate those who do not think or believe the way they do. North Korea’s collusion with Iran gravely increases the threat of both nations to the outside world.

4. Arms Smuggling
North Korea has a long track record of arms dealing and supplying parts for long-range missiles to other regimes that seek war with neighbors or themselves. Syria, Eritrea, Republic of Congo, Libya, Myanmar and more recently, Cuba, are among the countries of which the United Nations are aware arms dealing has taken place.

5. Kidnappings
North Korea added kidnapping to it’s many crimes against humanity after the Korean conflict in the early 1950’s and continue to kidnap foreign nationals to this day. The ones the world knows about are likely the tip of a very large iceberg, the scope of which we do not, and may never, fully know.

As mass media and world leaders continue wrestle with how much of a threat the Kim Jong-un regime poses to the free world, the crimes already committed and the threats already realized need to be part of the equation – perhaps more so than failed missile tests.

Eyewitness: A North Korean refugee’s story of life in a gulag

The only escapee of North Koreas most brutal prison camp has lived to tell us a story of unspeakable horror. Starved of food and common humanity, Shin proves that gulags are still a tragic reality.

“We were always hungry. Shins most vivid memory of his life in the camp is the constant hunger he felt, food made me escape, even if it was going to cost me my life. The only thing that interested me was the food. Before his escape three years ago, he didnt even know that a world existed beyond the barbed wires. Until then, his life had been one of torture, hard labour and complete isolation. My mother was supposed to inform on me and me on her. He believed she deserved her fate as he witnessed her execution. I blamed her. I had no real feelings as a kid. Shin didnt know love, only violence. Once the guards beat a little girl on the head so hard, she died the next day. He eventually escaped through a gap in a high-voltage fence. His charred legs still bear the scars. As horrible as it is, Shins story is not unique. Wang, himself a former prisoner, is a prominent writer on the subject. He believes that oppression in North Korea will keep increasing: The brutality of the system has grown to the point where Kim Jong Il now fears that he will suffer the same fate as Caucescu of Romania. He simply wants to kill all his enemies.”

North Korean camp survivor: ‘Worse than life as a dog’ – The Guardian UK video


The Great Escape?

With the difficulty of seeking refuge to the South and seemingly no liberation on the horizon from the West, Many North Koreans chose to flee via China and its embassies in North Korea. As this documentary produced by ABC Australia and distributed by Journeyman Pictures reveals, the escape can be tantamount to leaping from the frying pan into the fire.


A modern-day Mauthausen: Camp 22

It has long been purported that a North Korean prison is no more a prison than were Auschwitz, Treblinka or Mauthausen. And like those camps, Pukchang, Yodok and Hoeryong are quickly becoming common lexicon in the discussion of a modern haulocust largely hidden from the west until recently.

Below are a three short clips revealing what we can now extrapolate about these camps from the eyewitness accounts of a former guard and former prisoners at the Hoeryong political prison camp, commonly refered to as “Camp 22”.

The first video captures a prison guard’s account; the second is an account from a younger prisoner who had escaped, the third comes from a former chief guard and the last video is an account from a man born and raised in the camps.