What is happening in the North?

By Seoyoung Park

Published Date: 2021 / 01 / 26


(Gellman, “Human Pixels of North Korea”)

In North Korea, a country located on the northern side of the Korean peninsula between China and South Korea, people are barred from choosing their own religion, political identity, residence, and even hairstyles. With its political system based on the principles of totalitarianism and centralism, the country severely prohibits its citizens from their liberties. On that account, North Koreans are deprived of the basic human rights that they are endowed with from birth.

The North Korean government firmly divest their citizens of most civil and political rights including freedom to speech, movement, opinion, residence, publication, assembly, association. In addition, according to The Guardian, “even though the North Korean constitution officially states that it allows the freedom of religion, this freedom simply does not exist in the North”. The government strictly bans everyone from having or practicing a religion. Instead, all the citizens are required to honor and be devoted to their hereditary leaders of the Kim family. Because they are indoctrinated from a very young age to serve their leaders, North Koreans are also forbidden from criticizing or denying those leaders or the government. With those stringent prohibitions of civil and political freedoms, Human Rights Watch says, there emerges problems regarding “arbitrary arrest and punishment of crimes, torture in custody, forced labor, and executions to maintain fear and control”.
In the daily lives of North Korean citizens, there are also restrictions with regard to their social freedom and living conditions. If you were born in North Korea, you wouldn’t imagine planning your trip to go abroad for the summer holidays as international travels are forbidden for most in North Korea. Even for domestic travels, you need a permission from the central government, which is usually issued only if you are visiting your relatives in another town or a village. Residences and moving in and out are also regulated by the government. Furthermore, most North Koreans are under inadequate living conditions in which they lack electricity and hot water supply People also do not have access to any international websites or wifi with no internet at all in most places. In cultural aspects, North Koreans are not permitted to use Western or South Korean products from simple household appliances to movies and music. In other areas, freedom of North Korean residents are also restricted in cases of trivial events as they are forbidden from wearing blue jeans, and are only able to choose their hairstyles among 28 government-approved hairstyles.

Human rights should be respected all around the world, no matter what region people are living in. North Koreans also deserve their own civil rights that they are currently deprived of in numerous fields.

Works Cited
Gellman, Sam. “Human Pixels of North Korea.” Onebigphoto, http://onebigphoto.com/human-pixels-of-north-korea-photo/#. Accessed 28 December 2020.

Kang, Ji-Min. “Ask a North Korean: is religion allowed?” The Guardian, 21 November 2014, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/02/north-korea-is-religion-allowed. Accessed 28 December 2020.

“20 Things You Must Know Before Traveling To North Korea.” Travel Or Die Trying, https://www.travelordietrying.com/3344-2/. Accessed 28 December 2020.

“Human Rights in North Korea.” Human Rights Watch, 5 June 2018, https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/06/05/human-rights-north-korea.

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