By Erika Csibi
Every country in the World has its own social issues. In this sense we can talk about: crisis, human right`s violation, gender equality, discrimination, terrorist attacks etc.
But what is a Social Issue?
A social issue is a problem that influences a considerable number of the individuals within a society.
Whenever we talk about social issues we think about gender, race, religion etc. In some countries women fight for feminism, while in others people protest against abortion, against discrimination, against gay marriages. North Korea does not fight for or against any of these. North Korean people fights for freedom and human rights.
Under the rule of Kim family, North Korea remains the world`s most repressive countries. All basic freedoms have been severely restricted in the country through fearful obedience by using public executions, arbitrary detention, torture and forced labor etc. There is no independent media, functioning civil society, or religious freedom. (Human Rights Watch)
‘’North Korea is an unimaginable country. There is only one channel on TV, There is no internet. We aren`t free to sing, say, wear or think what we want. … North Koreans are being terrorized today!’’ (Park) These were the words of Yeonmi Park, after escaping from North Korea, she told her unimaginable story at One Young World, in order to raise awareness of what is happening in North Korea.
According to Article 19 of ‘’Universal Declaration of Human Rights’’, ‘’everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.’’ (Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
But, in North Korea not only the media is being banned but also the right of humans, their freedom is taken away. According to Article 1: ‘’All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.’’, nevertheless according to Article 5: ‘’No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.’’
The North Korean government lessens all basic human rights in the country, including freedom of expression, assembly, and association, and freedom to practice religion. It prohibits any organized political opposition, independent media, free trade unions, and independent civil society organizations. Arbitrary arrest, torture in custody, forced labor, and public executions maintain an environment of fear and control.
One of the most appropriate example to prove this violation of the rights from North Korea is the following statement made by Yeonmi Park in the same speech mentioned before: ‘’When I was 9 years old, I saw my friend`s mother publicly executed. Her crime? Watching a Hollywood movie!’’ According to her, expressing doubt about the greatness of the regime in the country can get three generations of a family imprisoned or executed.
North Korean people seek and are desperate for freedom. They try to escape in China in order to get their human rights and freedom deserved. In 2016, Kim Jong-Un’s government increased efforts to stop North Koreans from crossing into China without permission. Some tactics included building barbed-wire fences on the northern border; persecuting those caught in North Korea using Chinese cellphones to communicate with people in China or South Korea. Both North Korea and China have increased patrols and established barriers to crossing the border.
Unfortunately North Koreans do not manage to gain their freedom and human rights neither in China. All North Koreans in China are considered to be “illegal aliens” and routinely repatriates them without consideration of their claim to asylum, or even worse, they are sent back. ‘’North Korean refugees, about 300.000 are vulnerable in China. 70% of North Korean women and teenage girls are being victimized, sometimes sold for as little as 200 dollars. ‘’ (Park)
Nevertheless there are many ways to intervene and fix this problem in North Korea and not only. People can raise awareness about the human crisis in North Korea, help and support the North Korean refugees, help them gain their freedom and human rights, because ‘’no humans deserve to be oppressed just because of their birthplace! ‘’
Human Rights Watch. (n.d.). Retrieved June 2017, from Human Rights Watch: https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2016/country-chapters/north-korea
Park, Y. (n.d.). Escaping from North Korea in search of freedom | Yeonmi Park | One Young World. Retrieved June 2017, from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufhKWfPSQOw&t=4s
Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (n.d.). Retrieved June 2017, from United Nations: http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/