Yeonmi Park Escapes North Korea’s Human Rights Violations

The North Korean government recently denied it violates the human rights of its citizens arguing it guarantees human rights in its country. The United Nations Commission of Inquiry stated North Korea’s human rights violations are without parallel, and Amnesty International said North Korea is in its own category when violating human rights. North Korea’s human rights violations listed in the UN inquiry include murder, enslavement, torture, rape and imprisonment. In response to the UN’s inquiry, a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman said the UN’s findings are lies from North Korean defectors and the report is a political maneuver to overthrow the government.

The modern human rights movement started in 1945 when the UN was created after World War II where the massive loss of life to war and genocide inspired politicians around the world to never let this happen again. The purpose of the UN is to promote a higher standard of living for people around the world and to solve economic, social and health issues. The UN developed the international humanitarian law and the international human rights law; both are seen as a part of broader international legal system. In 1948, the UN issued the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with the stated goal of promoting human, civil, economic, and social rights. All of these are seen as being vital keys to freedom, justice and peace in the world, yet some countries like North Korea continue to violate these standards.

Yeonmi Park spent the first thirteen years of her life living under the North Korean regime. She was born in 1993 in Heysan and currently lives in South Korea where she is a junior at Dongguk University in Seoul studying Criminal Justice. Her family worked for the North Korean government but that did not provide her family immunity from being harshly punished by the government for any minor infraction. Her father was sentence to 17 years in a secret prison camp for smuggling gold, silver and nickel to Chinese traders to help feed his family during one of the country’s numerous famines. He urged the women in the family to leave the country, so during the winter of 2007 Yeonmi on yeonmi.net, her mom and sister fled the country into China where her mom was raped by Chinese traffickers and her sister was lost and presumed dead. Over a year later, after walking across the Gobi desert they reached the South Korean embassy in Mongolia, and Yeonmi was later reunited with her sister. Yeonmi has told her story to numerous outlets and is currently writing a book about her life in North Korea and escape from it.

There is plenty of evidence that North Korea continues to violate the human rights of its citizens. They have no independent media, functioning civil society or religious freed. Thanks to the UN and other human rights organizations and dissidents like Yeonmi Park, North Korea’s violations will continue to be exposed, and hopefully change will come to that country.

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