The Scrapbook has taken a shot or two (or three, or four) at the United Nations in the past, but the organization still does good work from time to time. Last week was one of those times. The U.N.’s Human Rights Council released a deeply disturbing and extraordinarily important 400-page report on the human rights situation in North Korea.
The atrocities in North Korea have been chronicled in various places (books, conferences, documentaries) over the past several decades, but the new report, produced under the leadership of the Australian judge Michael Kirby and based primarily on refugee testimony, is perhaps the definitive account of the living hell that is life in North Korea—as well as the definitive indictment of the country’s ghastly, murderous regime. As the report explains, the Kim dynasty is guilty of “crimes of extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, rape, and persecution.”
To complement the report, one North Korean defector, Kim Kwang-il, who spent time as a prisoner in one of the country’s horrific labor camps, hired an illustrator to draw the scenes he witnessed (and experienced) in the gulag. We’ve reproduced one here. As one defector explained, “Your hands are handcuffed behind your back. And then they hang you so you would not be able to stand or sit [for up to four days]. There are no people watching you. There is nobody. And you can’t stand, you can’t sleep. If you are hung like that for three days, four days, you urinate, you defecate, you are totally dehydrated. . . . [This torture] was the most painful of all tortures. . . . [It] was so painful that I felt it was better to die.”