RYAN LIPPERT WRITES – It’s now even safer to assume that North Korea is not the utopia its leaders would like the rest of the world to believe.

Recently, the United Nations published the findings of an inquiry on the state of human rights in the country. The report contains testimonies of former citizens that support claims that the  government is responsible for countless human rights abuses.

In North Korea, the government exerts substantial control over its citizens. Propaganda and extensive surveillance ensure that the only views expressed by the people are those bearing the government’s seal of approval. Anyone who disagrees faces a variety of horrific punishments, including execution, torture, or time in a concentration camp. When a citizen is punished, multiple generations of his or her family are punished as well.

In this report, the U.N. also argues that those responsible for the human rights violations should be brought before the International Criminal Court.

It is not surprising that the nation’s state-run media claims that the U.N. is lying, also accusing it of being a puppet of the United States.

The book Escape from Camp 14 has been released, and documents the experiences of one of the inmates of a concentration camp in North Korea. It tells the story of Shin Dong-Hyuk, who became the first and only person (so far) to escape from a total control zone, an area reserved for those sentenced to life imprisonment. Shin Dong-Hyuk’s experiences are also documented in a film titled Camp 14 – Total Control Zone. While the U.N.’s report does not yet offer a glimmer of light, it is possible that by shining the spotlight on the experiences of refugees like Shin Dong-Hyuk, international attention will prevent audiences from denying knowledge of the injustices occurring in our world.