You heard about The Interview. You’ve probably seen this photo showing North Korea at night—a sea of dark compared to the bright lights of neighboring South Korea. And you remember hearing something about Dennis Rodman’s bizarre friendship with Kim Jong-un. But how much – really – do you know about the political and military history of the Korean peninsula?
A lot less than you will after reading this special essay by Suzanne Scholte, now available at victimsofcommunism.org. Scholte brings her expertise as a noted human rights advocate to bear on this complicated history, detailing the bloody history of violence, government control, and war that created the modern-day North Korea. This grim legacy includes political reeducation camps that would make Stalin proud, protracted famine, and heavy censorship.
The late Dr. R.J. Rummel, a historian who recorded communist crimes, put it plainly: “In no other country in modern times has control by a party and its ruler been so complete.”
We at VOC believe deeply that understanding history is central to understanding current political realities; North Korea – especially alongside its free and prosperous non-communist neighbor South Korea – provides a case study in the failures of communist government. Antagonism towards its southern neighbor has been a hallmark of North Korean military policy since the war that divided the peninsula in the early 1950s. (Incidentally, according to Scholte’s report, after years of blaming the United States for that conflict, communist China recently recognized North Korea as the aggressor in the Korean War.)
And make no mistake—this control extends to today’s North Korea, where the Kim Jong-un regime remains in place as the result of three generations of political repression and Orwellian mind control unrivaled anywhere in the world.
Every now and then, refugees from North Korea make their way to the United States, including Jinhye Jo, whose video testimony VOC collected and can be seen on our website. It is through these moving personal testimonies, combined with the careful scholarship of experts like Scholte, that we can start to piece together a picture of one of the most secretive and abusive governments in the world.
Read Suzanne Scholte’s research essay, “North Korea Under Communism: 1948-2014,” here