On the 12th of June 2018, a summit meeting was held between US president Donald Trump and North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong-Un, in the Capella Hotel, Sentosa, Singapore. This was the first ever meeting held between leaders of the US and North Korea. The meeting was one-on-one with interpreters only. It was agreed for peace between both countries, to denuclearise Korea, to recover soldiers’ remains and for the US to help North Korea build a lasting and stable peace for Korea as a whole.
In 1910 Korea came under the control of the Japanese Empire like most of Asia. When World War Two ended in 1945, Korea gained independence from Japan. North Korea was occupied by the Soviets while the South was occupied by the Americans. This led to Korea being split by the 38th parallel. The Korean War in 1950 lasted three years. After three years of fighting and nearly three million people dying, an armistice was signed on July 27th, 1953. As a result, Korea was and is still split on the 38th parallel.
Today North Korea is so cut off from the rest of the world that we are not fully aware of what goes on within it. From 2004-2008 there was a mobile phone ban in North Korea. Every mobile phone permitted is only to be with the North Korean phone service called Koryolink. It is near impossible for citizens to own a mobile phone, only government officials can own them. There is also no internet connection available to the public, only people with authorisation can connect to it. No one can give or receive calls from North Korea. Tourism in North Korea is completely different from other countries. Tourists coming to North Korea must change their phone service to Koryolink or else their mobile phones will be taken off them once they are there. Every tourist must stay with their tour guide and are not permitted to leave the tourism boundaries, because they would see the harsh reality of North Korea.
The government control what North Koreans watch on television, what stations are on the radio, what music they listen to and what books they own. Does any of this sound familiar? The way Koreans are currently being treated in North Korea is similar to how the German people were treated by Hitler and the Nazis, and their hatred of South Korea is similar to that of the Jews.
Everyone knows about the mass murder of Jewish people during World War Two in the Concentration Camps, but no one talks about the Concentration Camps that opened twenty years after the Holocaust ended. Hoeryong Concentration Camp or otherwise known as Camp 22 in Haengyong-ri, North Korea, was founded in 1965 and is probably the most known out of the camps. Camp 22 is surrounded by an electric fence and roughly 1,000 armed guards. Most prisoners were prisoners of war or people who criticised the government. According to online sources and witnesses, prisoners were treated horribly, had to work 19 hours a day, were brutally tortured, beaten, starved and experimented on. Women were even being raped by guards and were forced to either have an unsafe abortion or sometimes killed. Only seven years ago, in 2012, Camp 22 was closed. Three thousand prisoners in Camp 22 were relocated to another concentration camp that is still running to this day.
According to experts, it is estimated that more than 130,000 people are currently held in North Korean camps. If such horrible things like concentration camps still exist in 2019, who knows what else could be happening in isolated North Korea.
Shin Dong-Hyuk was one of the only survivors of the concentration camp, Camp 14. Shin was born and raised in Camp 14. He talked about what he witnessed, he saw people being beaten to death, tortured, starved, forced labour, children being beaten, people dying every day. Shin had his finger cut off for punishment for breaking a sewing machine. Shin and a man he met planned to escape over the electric fence but only Shin survived. Now he is a human rights activist, spreading his story around the world and trying to raise awareness of the North Korean regime.
Peace talks like the ones Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un are engaging in at this moment are a good move and a step towards a hopeful future for citizens and prisoners in North Korea. Raising awareness is vital for these people. People should be aware of the horrors we learn about in history books that are happening right now, this minute, in North Korea. If people start talking and acting about this unknown problem, then perhaps things will change for the innocent people of North Korea.
Hannah Ingram – TY Press
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