You must have seen North Korea in the news at least twice a week. You also must have heard all sorts of things about the state of laws and anarchy under the Ruler Kim Jong Un. Like me, you have wondered, “How is that legal?”.
Well, today, we will discuss the laws of North Korea (on paper and in practice). We will also tell you if all that we hear about the torturous conditions of the people of North Korea is actually legal and punishable.
So, How did Kim Jong Un become the leader of North Korea?
In December 2011, Kim Jong Un was declared to be the leader of North Korea after his father, Kim Jong-il, died the same year. His grandfather (Kim Il-Sung) was the first leader of North Korea and belonged to the same party. In 2014, Kim was elected to the Supreme People’s Assembly unopposed.
A Little About Kim Jong Un’s North Korea
North Korea’s full and official name is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). North Korea was a part of the Korean Peninsula, which had several kingdoms. These kingdoms had heavily dependent and interactive relations with neighboring countries of China and Japan.
North Korea and Kim Jong Un- How did we get here?
In the 13th century, Korea faced its first Mongol invasion, led by (yes, you guessed it right) Genghis Khan.
- Under Ruler Khan, the Mongols controlled the Korean Peninsula for decades. Soon the Koreans and the Mongols fought a big war. The Mongols were thrown out of the country, leading to an independent Korean Peninsula once again. This period of Independence was from the 14th century, under the Joseon dynasty.
- During this period, however, China had a political and cultural influence on Korea. Korean Independence soon came to an end with the Japanese occupation of Korea in the year 1910. The Japanese Colony in the Korean Peninsula suppressed the Korean culture and gave rise to harsh colonial rules, forced labor, and inhuman policies.
- This period of torture only came to an end with the Second World War. Japan was devastated after the nuclear bomb incident. The Japanese hold over its colonies withered away slowly.
North Korea and Kim Jong Un- USA v. North Korea
After the second world war, the Yalta Conference took place. Here the leaders of the United States, United Kingdom, and Soviet Union met. The difference in etiologies between the Western allies and the Soviet Union was very evident through this conference.
- The Truman Doctrine, the Martial Plan, and the Berlin Blockade furthered this tension between leftist and rightist nations.
- Soon, the cold war saw the Division of the Korean Peninsula. It was North Korea and South Korea now, along the 38th parallel. North Korea became allies with the USSR, and South Korea chose the USA as its ally. Cold War played out its counterpart in the two Koreas through the Korean War of 1950. This secured the division of North and South Korea deep into the system.
- North Korea chose to be a socialist country, and South Korea went with the capitalist-democratic model. And that is how the North Korea that you now see came into the picture.
- Today, North Korea continues to be socialist on paper. Kim Jong Un has claimed to follow the principle of “Kangsong Taeguk“. This translates to “Powerful and Prosperous Nation.” It is a self-proclaimed independent nation.
- North Korea promotes self-reliance and independence in political, economic, and military matters.
Does North Korea have a Constitution?
Like all other nations, North Korea has a constitution adopted in 1972. It has had multiple amendments so far. The Constitution declares the following:
- The constitution declares North Korea to be a socialist state led by the Workers’ Party of Korea’. It is guided by the Juche ideology (self-reliance and independence).
- The country will always function under the Supreme Leader, who is the executive, legislative, and judicial head. They are the highest authority. Kim Jong-un is the current Supreme Leader.
- North Korea has a single-party system, and the Supreme Leader is the party’s chairman.
- National defense is looked after by the Korean People’s Army (KPA).
Do the People Of North Korea Enjoy Fundamental Rights?
The constitution of North Korea guarantees the citizens a list of fundamental rights and freedoms. It includes the freedom of speech, press, assembly, and religion. Like the rest of the nations, fundamental rights are subject to limitations.
- The Constitution is based on the principles of socialism. It says that free education, healthcare, and social welfare are to be given to the citizens.
- More often than not, North Korea has been in the news for several human rights violations inside the nation.
- Kim Jong-un has been accused of exercising very strict control and limiting its citizens’ freedom of expression.
- Did you know that North Korea strictly controls all forms of media and even restricts internet access in certain parts?
- Did you know about North Korea’s political prisons?
Yes, North Korea has prisons for any citizen that does not agree with its political ideologies or even gives the slightest criticism of government policies. They are sent to prison camps where they labor and toil in extremely Harsh conditions. Under their supreme leader Kim Jong-un, the North Korean government has been accused of fear, intimidation, and arbitrary execution of the citizens.
Finally, Human Rights Struggle in North Korea under Kim Jong Un
Accusations of forced labor are very serious in North Korea. Forced labor is apparently very common in the agricultural construction and industrial sectors. People who work under forced labor conditions do not enjoy any of the worker’s rights or working safety conditions. They do not even receive fair compensation for their hard work.
Internal travel in the country even requires permission from the government. Overall, freedom of movement is heavily censored.
The North Korean Government enacted laws that suppressed all political criticism. They even controlled information flow. These laws maintain the reign of fear. They help maintain a threatening environment in the nation. North Korea uses these laws under Kim Jong Un to justify Human Rights abuses in the nation.
However, these laws have been unable to shield North Korea and Kim Jong Un from outside scrutiny. Human Rights organizations and the United Nations have consistently raised their voice. They have condemned the situation in North Korea.
Therefore, to answer your question, these Human Rights abuses in North Korea are illegal. The United Nations has been trying to fight these with consistent efforts.