As the World Watches, North Korean Atrocities Unfold

In 2012, Dr. Lamont Colucci was approached by U.S. News and World Report to write a weekly column on foreign policy and national security. This is under the aegis of World Report – Insights, perspectives, and commentary on foreign affairs. View the article on

A common mistake of the mainstream media is their penchant for tunnel vision. The bombings in Boston are a clear case where the news media give Americans the impression that the world has stopped on its axis, as focus centers on the terrorist attack in Massachusetts.

This is also the case with stories concerning international affairs. The world media are so wrapped up in the nuclear question concerning North Korea, and worse, the potential for a “deal” with the boy dictator that we forget the horror inside that country.

George Orwell wrote, “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.” The North Korean boot has been stamping on human faces since 1953, almost with impunity from the international community, craven for a deal, some deal, any deal, with the totalitarian leadership. The thinking among the establishment in the west is that any price is worth avoiding war, nuclear war in particular. The devil’s bargain runs along the lines that as long as we can maintain an armistice (not peace) with the North Koreans, we can slowly work on human rights from afar.

This “logic” has allowed a totalitarian nightmare to unfold that strikes at the very heart of western values, human rights, and human dignity.

The most heinous example of these abuses is the North Korean camp system. The North Korean red dynasty established a caste system referred to as songbun. This classification of people based on ideological trustworthiness determines a person’s fate from the time they are born.

Those with lower songbun status are more likely to end up in the North Korean gulag system. It is estimated that at least 200,000 people languish in the death and labor camps of North Korea; their names, like Auschwitz, and Cabanatuan, should resonate with everyone, but do not. These camps, with names like Kaechon, Yodok, Pukchang, and Hoeryong, should inspire revulsion, disgust, and condemnation. These are places where torture, infanticide, starvation, and executions are daily occurrences.

In an effort to outdo his Maoist and Leninist forebears, the Kim dynasty created a camp system whereby the so-called offender is not the only one condemned, not even the immediate family, but often the generation above and below. It is therefore common for those labeled with that totalitarian catch-all favorite of the Soviets and the Chinese, “enemies of the state,” to be small children and elderly grandparents. The existence of these camps is unacceptable to anyone whose faith in God, and whose belief in human rights and human liberty exist in any way, shape, or form.

A lesser known evil committed by the North Koreans are abductions. The North Korean state, in particular North Korean intelligence, is responsible for 180,000 abductions in at least 14 countries. The focus by North Korea has been South Korea and Japan. These men and women are kidnapped and forced into slavery by the communist regime. In what other context would the international community accept a situation where a nation is allowed to engage in the type of slavery through kidnapping not seen since the Middle Ages?

If there is a poster boy for a rouge regime, a regime of evil, it is North Korea. This “nation” committed to creating a totalitarian hell on earth has, in the 21st century, combined the malevolence of the Dark and Middle Ages to produce the most insidious and noxious conditions for humanity. The very fact that the world allows this to go almost unnoticed, unspoken, and without priority, is an indictment of every democratic state that holds the values of humanity on high altar.

If the UN and the concert of democratic nations have any credibility beyond bluster and protest, it must push the North Korean despotic regime on this issue and not use the military question as an excuse to cover the worst crime by any nation state in the contemporary period. The military hostility will continue to bedevil us, for a long as we allow the evil of the regime to continue.