Claims of North Korean human rights abuses spearheaded attempts to undermine US-North Korean negotiations in Singapore. While the talks are unlikely to change the long-laid agendas of special interests across the West who have cultivated and profit from the ongoing conflict, it is important to confront these claims and diminish the intended effect they are meant to have in buttressing the notion of American exceptionalism and justifying American interventionism.
Tales of North Korean human rights abuses are so pervasive and persistent that even those opposed to US exceptionalism and interventionism have shied away from confronting and refuting them.
Rumors Built Upon Rumors
One would expect such significant accusations to be backed up by an equally significant amount of evidence. Yet – like most of what the Western media produces and spreads among the public consciousness – there is little evidence at all.
In most cases, tales of North Korean abuses are derived from hearsay by alleged witnesses and supposed defectors who no longer reside in North Korea.
The New York Times provides a prime example of the sort of abuses unquestioningly cited and repeated by pundits, politicians, and political “experts” alike. In its recent article, “Atrocities Under Kim Jong-un: Indoctrination, Prison Gulags, Executions,” the New York Times would claim:
Mr. Kim rules with extreme brutality, making his nation among the worst human rights violators in the world.
In North Korea, these crimes “entail extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation,” concluded a 2014 United Nations report that examined North Korea.
The source of the New York Times’ assertions is admittedly a “2014 United Nations report that examined North Korea,” officially titled the, “Report of the detailed findings of the commissionof inquiry on human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” (PDF).
The 372-page report – however – admits under an introductory section titled, “Methods of work,” that (emphasis added):
In the absence of access to witnesses and sites inside the DPRK,