North Korea’s Faux Freedom

Communist North Korea is in the news again for something it does well—practicing hypocritical tyranny. This case involves nine young men between the ages of 15 and 23 who heroically endured severe hardship that included frostbite, malnutrition and regular beatings during a four-year effort to escape the dreadful conditions in their homeland. Their goal was to reach Laos in order to enter South Korea and eventually seek asylum in the U.S.

All nine but one were orphans. The one non-orphan watched his father being beaten to death for stealing food from a military base to feed his family. This lad returned home only to have his mother throw stones at him telling him to leave.

He joined the eight other youngsters as they foraged for food from the trash, suffered diseases and they considered catching a rodent a luxury. They were beaten regularly by those who found them and lived in an abandoned building in temperatures that dropped well below zero degrees Fahrenheit.

Upon reaching China, a South Korean missionary, M.J. and his wife who were living in China, befriended the nine in December of 2009. At that point they were suffering from malnutrition, frostbite and a type of tuberculosis. M.J. and his wife helped the youngsters travel to Laos and were attempting to aid them in their journey to South Korea. After arriving recently in Laos, the nine young men turned themselves over to the Laotian authorities telling them that they were seeking asylum. They were then told to pack their bags because they were going to South Korea.

It seemed that four years of heroic effort and grueling hardship had paid off. The nine were so excited they jumped with joy. However, the cruel reality soon became painfully clear; the nine were hauled off, the missionaries were prevented from following and were locked up in a room for hours while the youngsters were put on a plane that was headed right back to North Korea. The United Nations’ Refugee Agency (UNHCR) told the missionaries that the nine youth were being sent back to North Korea via China.

The nine were last seen on North Korean state television dressed in white shirts and black trousers, supposedly thanking Communist despot Kim Jong-un for “welcoming” them back while declaring they had been “tricked” into leaving by the missionaries. The few who manage to escape North Korea and who are forced to return are either tortured and imprisoned for life or executed. Such welcoming treatment is also extended to their families. Is it realistic to think that the nine youngsters were thanking Kim Jong-un for the opportunity to be imprisoned for life and possibly executed?

Article 75 of the constitution of North Korea reads, “the citizens shall have freedom to reside in and travel to any place.”1 Is it simply ironic or maliciously hypocritical that Communism boasts of virtually unlimited freedoms for the people it subjugates? However, in reality, there is very little freedom to do anything other than what the government dictates.

Four years of grueling hardship endured with next to no resources, no guidance, no education, not even a map, should indicate to the Communist government that these nine youngsters wanted to travel anywhere but North Korea—so much for Article 75. At best they are in prison for life, at worst they have already been executed. Either way, they are but one more example of the faux freedoms offered by Communism and the growing complicity of Western politicians.

Footnotes

  1. http://www1.korea-np.co.jp/pk/061st_issue/98091708.htm#Chapter%205:Fundamental%20Rights%20and%20Duties%20of%20Citizens

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