Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Policy debate and outcomes

As mentioned bofore, North Korea's government is abusing human rights and it is debated in United Nations. Here is a list of what kind of rights are violated by North Korea's regime.

This blog's main focus poverty in Korea is also violating Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights: the right to food. Getting to know those facts, National Courts have the potential to prosecute the violation of human right in North Korea. The U.S., for example, can prosecute by using Alien Tort Claims Act. Also other countries can prosecute North Korea through universal jurisidction.

Facing the serious poverty in North Korea, developed countries including the US and South Korea have been sending food aid and material support to North Korea. The graph below is the supplies of US food aid to North Korea.

However, it is reported that 30 – 50% of the international aid is diverted. In 2008, South Korea reported that the North was distributing international rice aid to its military rather than to its hungry population, and also the food aid is sold to elite members of North Korea by the state. So all these mean that the aid sent for the poor people in Noth Korea are not actually received by people in serious need, but the aid is shared only by the government and elites.

There is also a news that came out in March, 2009. Probably for a response to US criticism against North Korea's nueclear weapon, North Korea kicked out five of major US food aid groups from North Korea. Mercy Corp is one of them. You can read the article from here

However, in June, 2009, Security Council decided to give North Korea sanctions for thier nueclera weapon program. And, in October, 2009 despite the fact that North Korea refused US food supplies in March, North Korea asked South Korea for food aid at the talks of Red Cross and South Korea ended up offering to ship 10,000 tons of corn to North Korea. South Korea's president Lee Myung-bak tried to not diminish the impact of the sanction to North Korea due to thier nuclear weapon test. (

It seems the sanctions to North Korea is not working. The North Korean government has not given up thier nuclear programs.

Wi Sung-lac, the Foreign Ministry’s top negotiator with North Korea said, “The sanctions will have a bite, but I’m not sure if it will be painful enough to change North Korean policy. What we need on top of the sanctions is a united approach by the key players to enforce them.”

North Korea's poverty will be never solved unless the government changes their policy of dictatorship, nuclear weapon and thier relationship to other nations.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Pop Culture

How do pop cultures deal with poverty in North Korea?

There are not many but there are some documentary movies focusing on its severity of the problems in North Korea.

Here are some of the exapmles.


Inside North Korea

Children of the Secret State(2000)


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Mass Media

North Korea has limited mass media power so that mass media in North Korea hardly discusses about the issue, as mentioned in the last blog.

Then, how is the issue debated in the United States?

The mass media in the United States has been talking about the poverty in North Korea for a long time.

It gets attention especially when North Korea launches the missiles. Once, United Nations decided to give sanctions to North Korea due to their nuclear missile program and poverty in North Korea was on the issue in the world. Recently, when South Korea decided to offer food aids to North Korea and North Korea’s leader and Kim Jong-Il went to China, mass media puts attention to North Korea. Also, when two American journalists were arrested in North Korea due to their illegal entrance to North Korea, the mass media put a huge attention to it and there was a huge debate in the United States.

However, mostly the attention goes to their nuclear program and its harsh dictatorship and not much focus goes to poverty. Even though the United Nation often discusses about North Korea’s human rights and poverty, mass media only focuses on the major problems that has an effect to the world and does not show problems inside the nation. The biggest reason for that is people in the U.S. are not interested in the other countries’ inside problems. So it is hard for people in the world to notice about poverty in North Korea. North Korea has difficult situation for freedom of expression for the citizens so that there is nobody to solve this problem.

The United Nations talks about poverty in North Korea. But they also need to talk about sanction to North Korea’s nuclear programs. That sanction ended up giving less food import for North Korea and it leads more serious hunger problem to North Korea. But if there is no sanction to North Korea, they would create nuclear missile more and make more disaster to the world.

And news about North Korea through the U.S. media is, I feel, apathetic. There is not much sympathetic emotion to the problems in North Korea. It is understandable because North Korea is the one causing its problem. So when people around the world see the problems in North Korea, they see it like, “oh, again, North Korea is doing something stupid” or “they are causing problems by themselves.” Some people may think like “North Korea just wants an attention from the world, that’s why they have problems all the time.”

I found this video clip and this depicts well what the world thinks about North Korea.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Welcome to the Jong-il
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Thursday, October 29, 2009


Poverty in North Korea is definitely one of social problems in the world. But when we wonder who the claimsmakers of this issue are, there is not answer for it, because there are not really any people claiming about this in North Korea.

The reason is because freedom of expression is highly limited in North Korea. According to the World Press Freedom Index Rankings, North Korea is always listed at the bottom and from 2002 and 2006. North Korea was listed the worst in the world. All media outlets are strictly owned by the North Korean government. TV and radio can only receive the government frequencies and they often covers false claims attacking the Western world, Christianity, United States, Japan and South Korea. As well known, the government is cult of personality and uses mass media to create a heroic image of Kim Jong-ill.

In addition to freedom of expression, there is no freedom of the press or religion, no free election, and no respect for fundamental human rights.

According to defectors from North Korea, there are political prisons and it is reported that 150,000 to 200,000 people are prisoned right now. Prisoners get terrible physical punishment, harsh and manual labor, forced to be a living test or training to be a spy to foreign countries. It is not rare to get death penalty without any juries and die of disease or poverty in prison. It is impossible for the citizens to claim the corruption and people having inaccurate media even do not notice that their situation in poverty is corrupted.

So in this strict regulated condition, people in North Korea are not able to claim about poverty. If they become against the government, they are simply sent to the prison and get punishment.

These human right abuses in North Korea is discussed in United Nations and they report that, “Every aspect of social, political, and economic life is tightly controlled by the state. The regime denies North Koreans all basic rights, subjects tens of thousands of political prisoners to brutal conditions, and maintains a largely isolationist foreign policy.”

But it is difficult for other countries to control foreign country and even if other nations claim about the poverty in North Korea, that does not have much power to solve the problem.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Draft on Claims

According to the research of WFP and FAC, 9 millions out of 24 million people, which is 1/3 of population, is facing poverty in North Korea in present. 16% of children combat malnutrition and 62% of children face poor development.

Why does this happen in North Korea?

Since the beginning of 1990, after communism fell with the end of the Cold War, North Korea lost the economic relationship with the Soviet Union, China and other East European countries and the economic became static and started running down. Plus, between 1995 and 1997, there were huge disasters of flood, drought and typhoon and agriculture suffered from lots of damage. Since most of North Korea’s land is covered by mountains, even before the fall of communism North Korea was having hard time to grow agriculture.

Yet, this agricultural problem may be just one of the reasons causing poverty.

Socialism is still alive in North Korea and 70% of population is depending on the public food supply system. However, present distribution is 1/3 of what a person needs per a day. Besides that, the government tries to reduce the amount of the supply. And it is assumed that 30% of national budget is used for the military affair.