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While most of the world—“most” because we are still waiting on Tehran, Havana, Caracas, of course—has appropriately reacted with outrage at this week’s nuclear test by the North Korean regime, there was also news of lesser import but nearly as chilling. It seems the regime of Kim Jong Un has not only been investing significant resources in their missile and nuclear technology programs but also pouring millions into expanding their system of gulags.
The North Korean Economy Watch Blog has analyzed Google Earth images and believes that there have been recent major expansions of at least two prison camps, Kwan-li-so No. 14 in Kaechon and Kwan-li-so No. 25 in Chongjin. This latter camp appears to have almost doubled in size.
While the regime directs resources toward growing its penal system and military hardware, there are continuing reports of famine.
Just imagine: there are parents who can’t feed their children; brothers and sisters watching each other whither and starve; best friends disappearing into the abyss of a prison camp. To these suffering people, nuclear tests are almost meaningless, except they probably know that their hunger is directly related to the repugnant priorities of their “leaders.” Nuclear tests are a significant threat to world stability and expose the mendacity of Kim Jong Un, but the crimes against the people of North Korea are a moral wound that will take generations to heal.
When the world’s eyes are on North Korea and its leader, let’s not forget the people who suffer the consequences of its nuclear program and those brave souls who challenge the regime.
Learn more about life in North Korea in the Freedom Collection interview with Kim Seong Minh:
This blog was written by Kent Patton, Blog Editor of the Freedom Collection.
Chinese Prisoner’s Death Holds a Message for Americans and China
Liu Xiaobo, China’s most prominent dissident and Nobel Peace Prize winner died this week. His death holds a message for Americans and for China.
Release of Chinese Political Prisoner a Timely Reminder to Support Freedom Advocates Abroad
More than half the world’s population still lives in countries where basic political rights and civil liberties are only partly respected, if at all.
Bringing Freedom to the Forefront of 21st Century Politics
Is the global liberal democratic order in danger? Purposefully constructed in the aftermath of World War II, this order -- and the American leadership that is central to its success --has contributed to securing peace and expanding prosperity in the United States and around the world. Today, that order appears to be dissolving. This crisis is not new or sudden; it has been mounting for several years. Global challenges like authoritarian capitalism, violent extremism, demographic pressures, and displaced populations have placed global freedom in decline. Fraying traditional alliances united by core values of freedom are increasingly weak to respond. It is alarming that the downdraft in democratic resilience over the past decade or more includes countries that have long been part of the consolidated democratic West. This is democratic deconsolidation. In much of the Western world, we see a rise in demagogic populism, illiberalism, nationalism, protectionism, and waning conf
The Importance of Speaking Truth to Tyrants
What the president of the United States says matters. Even during the realpolitik policies of détente under Richard Nixon, it was still clear that American policy was based on a set of core values. Nixon’s practical goals of reaching deals with America’s adversaries was never based on the “great chemistry” with himself or praising the Soviet or Communist Chinese leadership doing a “fantastic job.” When the president aligns himself with the autocrats and dictators, he aligns America with their oppression. He sends a message that corruption and brutality are not our concern. Contrast that with how Ronald Reagan defied much of world opinion in calling out the brutality of the Soviet system. Natan Sharansky, then a refusenik imprisoned in a Soviet gulag, later wrote for the Weekly Standard of his thoughts on Reagan’s pronouncement that the USSR was an evil empire: “It was the great, brilliant moment whe