North Korea 2005
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
Location: East Asia
When: 1992 – Present
Estimated Dead: 2-4 million+
Displaced Persons: Unknown
Current Conflict: The North Korean Government has been detaining and executing political opponents of the regime, religious groups (mostly Christian and Buddhist), and random citizens, since the early 1990s. The political opponents that the DPRK does not execute are put in concentration camps throughout the country in which they are starved and routinely tortured. Some camps have enacted a “three generations rule,” where if one member of a family commits a crime, the entire family is not only imprisoned but may be kept there for up to three generations. The DPRK government has also been accused of sending children and adults with disabilities to concentrations camps.
Background Information: After the Korean War ended in 1951, then-supreme leader Kim Il-Sung began eliminating political opponents from both Pro-Soviet and Pro-Americans factions within North Korea. The early political oppression in the DPRK was focused on executing political and ideological opponents in order to consolidate power in the new regime. In the late 1950s, when the Soviet Union and much of the Communist World began the process of de-Stalinization (the gradual process of dismantling the significance and influence of Stalin in the Soviet Union), Kim Il-Sung kept Stalinist policies in place and became increasingly egotistical and paranoid.
With the death of Kim Il-Sung in 1994, the DPRK radically changed. Kim’s successor, his son Kim Jong-Il, made the DPRK significantly more totalitarian, increasing the severity of the political oppression as the years went on. Execution became more widespread, torture became more common, and the first concentration camps were established. The definition of “political opponent” also became much more vague in the DPRK. Those seen as political opponents ranged from people who posed ideological threats to the regime to people who spoke negatively of “The Great Leader” or who were heard singing South Korean pop songs. Political oppression slowly transformed from a vehicle of destroying opposition to one of imposing fear and keeping the populace obedient.
In addition, the falls of the Soviet Union and the majority of the Communist World has left North Korea’s aid nearly non-existent. Famine has also struck the DPRK several times since the early 1990s and Kim Il-Sung’s descendants, Kim Jong-Il and Kim Jong-Un, have done little to help their starving population but have spent billions of North Korean Won on pursuing nuclear weapons. The genocide in the DPRK can best be characterized as a combination of political oppression, random/nonsensical internment, and administrative neglect that have resulted in the death of millions.