There is now overwhelming, verifiable evidence of North Korea’s systematic diversion of billions in humanitarian aid during the mid-1990s, when up to 3.5 million North Koreans died of starvation. This experience is one of many which have made the international community progressively less generous in its dealings with the regime, but in the 1990s the DPRK was the recipient of more aid than any other nation on earth.
Amongst several important reports chronicling North Korea's human rights crimes issued over the past two decades, the law firm DLA Piper published “Failure to Protect: A Call for the UN Security Council to Act in North Korea” in 2006, which found that North Korea’s discriminatory food policy resulting in famine constituted crimes against humanity as defined in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
The most explicit example of the DPRK's methodical use of food deprivation as a way to repress and control is the North Korean prison camp system, where perceived dissenters and their entire families, including children, have been systematically starved as a rule for over six decades.
But “deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about physical destruction” is not the only act of genocide carried out by the regime in these camps, which, according to satellite photographs released by Amnesty International and Google Earth this year have grown dramatically over the last decade.
In reality, every method which constitutes genocide as outlined in Article 2 of the UN Genocide Convention is being utilized by the DPRK security apparatus in the campaign to exterminate hundreds of thousands of innocent North Koreans, one-third of whom are children. These crimes include but are not limited to: public executions, systematic torture, state-induced mass starvation, forced abortions, infanticide, and the forcible transfer and imprisonment of children.
Furthermore, the DPRK is actively targeting for destruction every group which is protected under the Genocide Convention through its decades-long policy of killing the half-Chinese babies of North Korean women forcibly repatriated by China (genocide on national, ethnical, and racial grounds) and through its systematic annihilation of its indigenous religious population and their families (genocide on religious grounds).
In order to save the victims of this regime, the international community must now recognize the situation in North Korea for what it is: one of the most devastating genocides of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Robert Park is a Korean-American missionary and human rights activist who went to North Korea on Christmas day of 2009 to protest against genocide and crimes against humanity.