Is life in North Korea different from what we have been told?

Answer by Jason Coston:

If you're a citizen of North Korea, and you try to leave North Korea, they shoot you.  If you're lucky! 

And then, to ensure nobody else in the country even thinks about trying to leave, your entire family is killed.  If they're lucky!

If you're not so lucky, you all get sentenced to prison. 

Together, if you're lucky!

But these prisons are designed to torture you based on your love of your family.  So your father will occasionally have to watch his wife get raped, and you will occasionally have to watch your wife get raped, or your husband will occasionally have to watch you get raped.  And you all get to watch each other starve, because the prison's diet is intentionally set below subsistence levels, so that you have to break the rules constantly by catching rats and other contraband to eat.  If you're lucky!

If you're not so lucky, you eventually starve, or are caught eating a rat and tortured as punishment.  If you're lucky!

If you're not so lucky, it's you who get by while you have to watch your child starve or get caught eating a rat and tortured.  Or all your family members.  If you're lucky! 

If you're not so lucky, you also have to watch this happen for a new generation of your family born inside the prison.  Because you see, if a married couple is super well behaved for years in this prison, they might be allowed to make love once a year.  If they're lucky!

And all this happens because one family member, you, had a noble impulse to seek freedom in another country.  If you're lucky!

If you're not so lucky, all this happens because you laugh at a joke while your neighborhood supervisor is listening.  Or because that supervisor decides they don't like you, and falsely reports you to the justice system.  Or you're caught unplugging your home's mandatory government-issue propaganda radio.  Or you're caught stealing food for your 3-foot-tall teenage skeleton-daughter. 

If you're very, very, very lucky, you don't just try to escape; your escape attempt works.  You make it to China, or South Korea, and start a new life.  You somehow avoid starving in the woods or becoming the helpless plaything of an exploitative employer who knows exactly what would happen to you if he reported you. You figure out how to let yourself eat like a king every day for the rest of your life without thinking of what happened to the family you left behind.  You figure out how to pull your mind together enough to start sharing your story and working for political change in your homeland.  You tell your story to all who have ears, and they hear you and believe you and take deeply to heart the realities you describe, and join your quest to make change happen. 

If you're lucky.

For more information:

Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West: Blaine Harden: 9780143122913: Amazon.com: Books

The Aquariums of Pyongyang: Ten Years in the North Korean Gulag: Chol-hwan Kang, Pierre Rigoulot: 9780465011049: Amazon.com: Books

The 10 Most Shocking Things We Learned About North Korea's Labor Camps From Amnesty International

Holocaust Now: Looking Down Into Hell at Camp 22

North Korea's gulags: a horror "without any parallel in the contemporary world"

http://www.amnesty.org.uk/north-korea-satellite-images-expose-scale-prison-camps

Damning UN consensus building on North Korean rights abuses – World Tribune

Is life in North Korea different from what we have been told?

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