Global News Journal

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The “hostile racket” that comes with North Korea’s human rights season


Once a year, North Korea’s often vitriolic rhetoric machine fires up with special intensity to attack those who attack its human rights record. The exchanges usually come toward the end of the year when the U.N. General Assembly approves what has become an annual measure criticising North Korea for having one of the worst rights records in the world.

Reclusive North Korea is a member of only a few international organisations so the annual rebuke at the United Nations stings particularly hard for the state that bills itself as a workers’ paradise, or as it said in a state media report on Tuesday: “the best socialist state in the world as it is centred on the popular masses”.

North Korea comes under special scrutiny this year because it will be subject to official international questioning of its human rights record at the United Nations in December, which could provide even more embarrassment for the North’s thinned-skinned leaders as the prickly state is put on the defensive.
North Korea has prepared for this event by changing its Constitution earlier this year and adding clauses about human rights protections.

But many of the rights of North Korean citizens spelled out in the document are not carried out. For example, it guarantees freedom of assembly, but Pyongyang can send to political prison anyone who gathers without permission of authorities. The regime guarantees freedom of religion, but jails those who try to exercise the right. Privacy is a right, but the government’s large internal spy network keeps tabs on almost all citizens.