By using our website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our updated Cookie Notice. At the same time, the country experienced a fall in the overall crime rate. The surge in senior offending coincides with soaring life expectancy.
From Torture To Detection, History Of Crime Essay
A study published in The Lancet projected that women born in South Korea in would be the first in the world to have an average life expectancy of above Nearly half The suicide rate among the elderly increased from 35 per , in to 82 in , well over the OECD average of In addition to the strain on the economy and healthcare system, these challenges include an elderly crime rate that has quadrupled over the past couple of decades. In Japanese prisons, one out of every five inmates is a senior citizen. It has been reported that a significant number are even committing petty crimes so they can go to prison.
Religion is forbidden. Want is widespread, with malnutrition -- even, at times, starvation -- being the norm. So, too, North Koreans lack Roosevelt's fourth freedom: the freedom from fear. Fear is an everyday fact of life in North Korea.
Censorship in North Korea - Wikipedia
As in other totalitarian countries, the Kim family regime enforces its power through a practice of arbitrary arrest and detention. The regime operates a vast network of prisons and detention centers, the worst being the six known political prisons, where an estimated , people are held in conditions are so abysmal that many never return home. Political crimes can include possessing a Bible, listening to a South Korean pop song, creasing a photograph of Kim Jong Un, or attempting to make a cell phone call outside the country.
Public executions are another means of regime control. A United Nations report in called them "one of the dreadful tools" in the regime's rule by fear. As we have learned in recent years from testimonies by North Koreans who have escaped, even children are required to watch as men and women are hanged or shot. The onlookers understand the message the regime is sending: Express disagreement with the rulers and that could be you standing in front of the firing squad. Another of the dictatorship's "dreadful tools" is its policy of punishing the families of transgressors.
Under a diktat laid down by North Korea's founding despot, Kim Il Sung, offenders can be punished unto three generations. That is, if you are sent to the gulag for a perceived political crime, your parents, your spouse, and your children may go with you. Better to buy them off if possible. When Kim Jong Il ascended the throne in , he so feared a military revolt that he struck a deal with the brass: songun , or the 'military-first policy.
In exchange, the KPA received unique access to the national budget, elevated constitutional importance as the leading entity of the state, and perks for the military elite.
Censorship in North Korea
Another mafia-esque element is the Kim court's racketeering approach to its interaction with both foreigners and its own people. North Korea regularly cheats or avoids following commitments made in various negotiations with outside powers, the UN and NGOs, most obviously in its construction of nuclear weapons. So many deals have fallen apart that the American attitude toward North Korea is now 'strategic patience,' because the Obama Administration has no trust that North Korea will actually adhere to anything it signs.
Internally as well, the Pyongyang 'court economy' has a long record of ripping off its own population and investors: confiscating currency, taking harvest product in excess of state quotas, and rewriting the rules for foreign investors such as Orascom or South Korean firms in the Kaesong Industrial Complex.
If we define the mafia as organised crime, North Korea looks like a country taken over by the Corleone family of the Godfather films. Its criminality is legendary: it counterfeits US dollars and euros and RMB ; brews and exports methamphetamines; engages in insurance fraud ; regularly evades UN sanctions, which have the force of international law; trafficks in persons; and proliferates weapons, nuclear materials and missile parts. The revenue from these 'enterprises' directly supports the court economy and the comfortable lifestyle of elites. Perhaps Kim Il Sung himself genuinely believed in socialism, but certainly his son did not and his grandson does not.
Under their rule, North Korea has emerged as the second most corrupt state on earth according to Transparency International.
The mafia bribes and pays off for its needs; so does North Korea. Petty corruption among officialdom is now widespread, according to defectors, with market traders, escapees and others trading money, goods and services to avoid state detection. North Korean workers toiling on international projects in Kaesong, Siberia and the Persian Gulf see little of their wages, as the regime effectively confiscates the hard currency of their pay. Internationally, North Korea likely could not have built a nuclear weapon without massive pay-offs in the AQ Khan network of proliferators.
At the top, North Korea hides illicit funds in banks, particularly in China and Switzerland, which almost certainly require kick-backs to protect. Perhaps the most recognisable face of this corruption to Westerners is Dennis Rodman's bizarre dalliance of debauchery with Kim Jong Un several years ago.
20 facts about North Korea
If this interpretation is correct, ideology, or victory over South Korea, is less important to the North's elites than simply staying alive and enjoying the gangsterish good life. The glue of the regime, then, is what I have called the 'Songbun Bargain': goodies for elites in exchange for stable Kimist leadership. Should the funds to maintain the court economy dry up, elites might well set on each other over a declining budgetary pie.
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If the mafia's primary interest is money, then financial or secondary sanctions are the most powerful weapon we have against the North. I would like to thank the Korea Foundation, the University of Southern California, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies for inviting me to participate.
Photo by Flickr user Stephan. View the discussion thread.