At the start of the 2018 Winter Olympics, the world watched as both North and South Korea came together to make one unified Korean Olympic team for women's hockey. It seemed like an auspicious moment given the rising aggression of North Korea over recent years.
To demonstrate good will, South Korea agreed to have North Korea's leadership join in the Olympic events. Kim Yo Jong, sister to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, is serving as her country's diplomatic representative.
To hear American media tell it, sister Kim is specter to behold, someone worthy of honor and praise. Just take this example from CNN:
With a smile, a handshake and a warm message in South Korea's presidential guest book, Kim Yo Jong has struck a chord with the public just one day into the PyeongChang Games...
Seen by some as her brother's answer to American first daughter Ivanka Trump, Kim, 30, is not only a powerful member of Kim Jong Un's kitchen cabinet but also a foil to the perception of North Korea as antiquated and militaristic.
The comments are a short example of a lot of heaping praise for Kim Yo Jung, who incidentally is deputy director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department of North Korea.
In case you don't recall President Trump's State of the Union address featuring the family of Otto Warmbier or Mr. Ji Seong-ho, here's a brief reminder of Ji's experience under the father of the pretty Kim:
He was tortured by North Korean authorities after returning from a brief visit to China. His tormentors wanted to know if he’d met any Christians. He had — and he resolved, after that, to be free.
Seong-ho traveled thousands of miles on crutches all across China and Southeast Asia to freedom. Most of his family followed. His father was caught trying to escape and was tortured to death.
Today he lives in Seoul, where he rescues other defectors, and broadcasts into North Korea what the regime fears most: the truth.
In 2013, the United Nations issued a Committee of Inquiry report on North Korea. It found, among other things, grave abuses of the people. The report goes on for more than 90 paragraphs of examples like this:
The State has imposed blatantly discriminatory restrictions on women in an attempt to maintain the gender stereotype of the pure and innocent Korean woman. Sexual and gender-based violence against women is prevalent throughout all areas of society. Victims are not afforded protection from the State, support services or recourse to justice. In the political sphere, women make up just 5 per cent of the top political cadre and 10 per cent of central government employees. ...
Violations of the rights to food and to freedom of movement have resulted in women and girls becoming vulnerable to trafficking and increased engagement in transactional sex and prostitution. The complete denial of the freedoms of expression and association has been a large contributing factor to the generally unequal status of women vis-à-vis men. These limitations have, inter alia, prevented women from collectively advocating for their rights as women have done elsewhere in the world. ...
The State’s monopolization of access to food has been used as an important means to enforce political loyalty. The distribution of food has prioritized those who are useful to the survival of the current political system at the expense of those deemed to be expendable. Citizens’ complete dependence on the State led to one of the worst cases of famine in recent history. The authorities have only recently come to tolerate the fact that markets can no longer be fully suppressed. Instead of fully embracing reforms to realize the right to food, however, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea maintains a system of inefficient economic production and discriminatory resource allocation that inevitably produces more unnecessary starvation among its citizens.
Just last week, before the games began, Benedict Rogers, the East Asia Team Leader at the human rights organization Christian Solidarity Worldwide, and co-founder of the International Coalition to Stop Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea, wrote a piece describing what has happened since the COI report.
A few recent escapees claim that when they were in prison they escaped beatings and torture, or endured less severe abuses, because prison guards told them an international inquiry was watching. “There has been some improvement,” said one escapee. “I heard about the UN noise and fuss. Without this, no one would know about human rights at all.” These are no more than tiny flickers of hope – but even such tiny flickers in otherwise total darkness might provide something to build on.
The one area where there’s absolutely no change is in the basic right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion, or belief. Any divergence from utter loyalty to the Kim dynasty is punished severely. One interviewee told us that a person found to be a Christian “would be immediately shot.”
Demographer Nicholas Eberstadt, an expert in North Korea, recently explained how there is NOTHING about the regime worth fawning over.
The crimes of the North Korean regime are perhaps more familiar to us as they have affected the international community. We read about assassinations with nerve agents in civilian airports in Malaysia; we hear about threats to turn major foreign capitals in seas of fire; we see lovely North Korean government videos depicting the incineration of cities in the United States. And we’re very aware of the brutal threats that the North Korean regime poses to us.
What we don’t always appreciate is that the Janus face of the North Korean regime is the oppression that it rains upon the North Korean people. Most of the things which the North Korean government poses towards us today are just threats. Actually, every day in North Korea for the victims of the regime is another nightmare.
The regime's rule is detrimental to human life, much less happiness, to a population of more than 25 million people. The media should wake up and smell the tyranny.