The so-called “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” or “DPRK” is often recognised as the world’s most isolated state; a fascistic, total suppressor of basic human rights and freedoms, subverting all social, civic and political life to the maintenance of pervasive (but ultimately fragile) illusions of grandeur.

Grave Violations
Mostly Satisfactory
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Constitution and government

There is no freedom of religion or belief in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (“North Korea”). All freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief is systematically and severely violated by the North Korean government.

The complete denial of freedom of thought is enforced through the regime’s totalitarian control of almost every aspect of life.

National fantasy

The state imposes a compulsory veneration of the ruling Kim family and its ideology of nationalist self-reliance (Juche).  (A quasi-religious mythology and ‘cult of personality’ attaches to the hereditary Kim rulers. In 2011 the state news agency KCNA reported that strange phenomena were witnessed and that “nature is in mourning”, following the death of former leader Kim Jong-il. The supposed reports included unusual snow storms, a mysterious glow on a revered mountain top, and the cracking of ice on a famous lake “so loud, it seemed to shake the Heavens and the Earth”. The regime had previously declared Kim Jong-il a “genius”. Similar myths are propagated by the government about his successor King Jong-un.)

Submission to the state and its ideology is enforced through an extensive government network of control, including secret surveillance and informants, which intrudes upon virtually every aspect of life in North Korea.  Any hint of independent thought—including lack of enthusiasm for the state ideology, complaints, or “wrong thoughts”—is liable to be severely punished. Punishments include life imprisonment in labour camps, torture and death.

Freedom of expression, advocacy of humanist values

With no freedom of expression, and no independent press or access to the internet, ordinary North Koreans are denied any opportunity to explore ideas or news from outside government sources, while the outside world is largely (apart from the reports of occasional “defectors”) denied access to opinions and news from any individuals or non-government sources in North Korea. Every home, office and classroom feature portraits of the first two leaders that have to be cleaned with a special cloth every day. Television sets and radios are fixed to run state channels and the state has almost complete control over the flow of information across the entire country.

In 2014, a U.N. General Assembly committee approved a resolution condemning the North Korean leadership for decades for crimes against humanity, which paved the way for Kim Jong Un to be referred to the international criminal court. This referral stems from numerous human rights abuses that include brainwashing, torture, deliberate starvation, executions and infanticide. The regime brainwashes children from an early age to believe in the Kims as godlike leaders, to instill loyalty and commitment to the leader, and hatred towards “enemies” of the nation.