Horrific Photos Kim Jong Un Doesn’t Want You to See and President Trump Probably Ignores
North Korean President Kim Jong Un keeps a close watch over the media in his country — in fact, he actually controls a lot of what the citizens know about the outside world. As much as Kim tries to convince the world that North Korea is a bastion of nuclear power and military life, daily life for its citizens is nothing short of grim. Click through these photos to see how bad the population in North Korea fares under a government that controls most aspects of life.
1. Children are used for forced labor
Childhood in North Korea can be difficult, according to Business Insider. Rural families typically put their children to work on farms, railway tracks, and construction and forestry sites.
Children with parents who are being punished for their perceived crimes also take their children with them to work in brutal labor camps. In fact, forced labor drives much of the North Korea’s economic output.
Next: Hungry kids
2. Children are hungry
A shocking number of North Korean children are malnourished, according to Business Insider. Sadly, around 28% of children in North Korea under five have stunted growth.
According to Reuters, around 60,000 children in the country face potential starvation, and international sanctions are making matters worse by slowing aid deliveries. “Diarrhoea related to poor sanitation and hygiene and acute malnutrition remains a leading cause of death among young children,” stated UNICEF.
Next: Begging in the streets
3. People in rural areas are begging for money on the streets
Getty photographer Xiaolu Chu traveled through North Korea by train in 2015, where he noticed an inordinate number of people — including children — begging for money. Because they can’t always get rice to eat — or millet or potatoes — those in rural areas are often forced to resort to begging for money to buy food. Although the situation isn’t as bad as the famine that occurred in North Korea in the mid-1990s, there is still a serious shortage of food in North Korea, particularly for those who live in the country.
Next: City living
4. Living in the city isn’t so great, either
You might think that North Korean city dwellers have a better quality of life, but not always. Although there is typically more food available in North Korean cities, the living conditions are often poor, according to Business Insider. Many live in densely packed, high-rise apartments, where electricity shortages and elevator breakdowns are everyday occurrences.
Next: A mighty force
5. North Korean military
Kim Jong Un is proud of his country’s military and often boasts about it. He also loves to stage flashy military parades, during which he distributes propaganda photos of huge armies.
And, according to the Council on Foreign Relations, North Korea is a grave security threat worldwide. The country spends almost a quarter of its gross domestic product on its military, and it has an impressive stockpile of nuclear weapons.
Next: The flip side of military life
5. North Korea soldiers are starving
North Korea’s military might be vast, but its soldiers are often malnourished. Rigorous training combined with a lack of food does not make for a mighty military.
According to the Sunday Express, many of the 1.2 million troops are in very poor condition. When the communist regime ordered the military to acquire its own food supplies, soldiers began looting farms to feed themselves, raiding fields at night.
Next: Proof positive
6. Proof that soldiers really are starving
When a soldier defected to South Korea in 2017, he ran across the demilitarized zone while his fellow soldiers shot at him, according to the Sunday Express. He was shot five times but survived. The surgeon found he had hepatitis B and tuberculosis, in addition to parasites.
“Everything was stained with blood, but the parasite was basically a really white color and this thick, big, long and very, very hard, this kind of thing was getting out from his bowel system,” said surgeon Lee Cook-jong.
Next: No internet?
7. Internet access is scarce in North Korea
North Koreans don’t have much access to the internet, according to Business Insider. Closed-off computer network systems are the only kinds available, and they exist only in a few places, such as in major city’s libraries.
North Koreans are able to access only around 30 websites, many of which are filled with propaganda. Korea’s main newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, has a website that includes a dedicated section called “Supreme Leader’s Activities,” which details what Kim Jong Un is up to each day.
Next: Horrifying conditions
8. North Korean prison camps are ghastly
The prison camps in North Korea are notorious for being appalling, according the Independent. In fact, the conditions have been compared with Nazi camps. Inmates face beatings, executions, starvation, and rape. Perhaps the worst aspect of the prison camps is that citizens have been sent to them for minor infractions that wouldn’t even be considered crimes in other countries.
Next: Another successful defector
10. Ji Seong-ho managed to defect
Ji Seong-ho, who attended President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech in January 2018, escaped from North Korea in 2006, crossing the freezing Tumen river at night to get to South Korea.
When he was 13, he was searching for coal to exchange for food and lost his left hand and his left foot in a train accident. He went through a 4.5-hour surgery afterward — with no anesthetic. Since then, he has been a fervent champion of human rights.
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