The Journal of The DuPage County Bar Association

Back Issues > Vol. 25 (2012-13)

North Korean Labor Camps, the Nazi Concentration Camps of Our Era
By William Wojnarowski

It was 1944, they came to the front door looking for my father, but he was not there. They saw the picture of my sister, Elfriede, she was the oldest out of all of us, and they asked where she was. We told them she was at school still and when they left we became suspicious. We thought something might be wrong. We tried to beat who we thought were the SS to the school but it was too late, they must have already had people there waiting, and she was taken away.

At the time we lived in Nürnberg, and had no idea where they had taken her. We asked around and found that she might have been sent to a camp, about an hour and a half away from Eichstätt. We found where she was being held and traveled there regularly to check up on her. At one point she had been stripped of all her clothing. We managed to smuggle clothing to her through a hole in a fence that bordered the camp. It was all extremely dangerous. There were guards with guns and dogs barking, and the camp was filled with scrawny malnourished prisoners, with sores all over. We befriended the guards of the camp so that we could bribe them to sneak Elfriede out. Once we freed her, we lived out the remainder of the war on a farm in the mountains of Eichstätt.[1]

Introduction. As part of the NAZI ascension to power, no one was spared, not even the German people.  In the wake of their destruction, the Allied victors held those responsible by means of the first international military tribunal: the Nüremberg Trials.[2] Those tribunals aided in transitioning the legal theory for proceedings after wartime from those based on victor’s justice to a system of international judicial hearings, which still exists today.[3] Despite this trend, there exists a gap in enforcement in at least one country in particular: North Korea.[4] The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is one of the worst violators of human rights, and their “labor camps” compare to those of the NAZI concentration camps of World War II. These camps serve to keep North Korean people under the strict control of their dictator with little action by the international community.[5] While offering unique solutions to deter North Korean aggression, the goal is to enlighten readers on North Korean labor camps by juxtaposing them to a well-known historical equivalent: NAZI concentration camps.

Beginning with a brief discussion of NAZI concentration camps, this article focuses on their establishment and methods of operation. Next this article transitions to the subsequent tribunals following the Allied defeat of NAZI Germany, focusing on the grounds on which the trials were established and enforced, as well as the prosecution of those responsible. Finally, the article addresses North Korea’s labor camps which exist today, comparing them to the NAZI concentration camps, and concluding with a review of the current means of redress available to the international community focusing on the ability, jurisdictional grounds, and enforceability of prosecution for those labor camps.

World War II NAZI Concentration Camps. The NAZI party’s rise to power and eventual control over the German state was a multi-tiered process utilizing various political spheres, from the press to the universities and everything in between.[6] Once control was established, the NAZI government slowly began enacting laws that would eventually lead to what would be known as the Holocaust.[7]  Once these initial laws were in place, the Interior Ministry of the NAZI government established the camps and “strictly regulated . . . Lagerordnungen (camp regulations)” followed.[8]

These concentration camps were the sites of numerous atrocities, mainly targeting the Jewish people, as well as anyone else who stood in the way of the NAZI dictators.[9] Individuals were rounded up from across the various parts of NAZI-controlled Europe and sent to these camps.[10] Once in these camps, they were subject to forced labor and starvation, oftentimes resulting in death.[11] However, starvation and exhaustion were not the only causes of death within the camps; punishments dealt by the camp operators often resulted in death as well,[12] as did various experiments that were conducted on the prisoners.[13] Death frequently was the result of mass exterminations, sometimes through shootings, but most frequently through gas chambers erected within the camp walls, orchestrated and authorized by the NAZI leaders.[14]

The First International Military Tribunals. The Allied and Soviet powers were eventually victorious in defeating NAZI Germany. With that victory, they were charged with the task of determining the fate of Germany. Possible solutions ranged from outright execution of the NAZI leaders[15] to that of holding those accountable through a judicial process.[16]

The trial process was implemented first by the German state’s submission through surrender[17] and then developed through the London Charter, which formalized the trial procedures and causes of action against potential defendants.[18] The authority establishing the procedures was grounded not only in the surrender documents, but also under a theory of jus cogens violations.[19] This authority was further bolstered by having multiple nations indicate their support of the trials, demonstrating the international community’s agreement to prosecute the NAZI’s actions.[20]

The London Charter established three main crimes to indict NAZI defendants: crimes against peace, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.[21] In order to prevent the defendants from passing blame, the court disallowed any “superior orders” defense.[22]  Additionally, the fact that German domestic law authorized the defendant’s actions for crimes against humanity was also insufficient as a defense.[23]

The trials resulted in both guilty and non-guilty verdicts, and punishments including prison terms, life in prison, or death.[24] While the court has been criticized as perpetuating a mirage for victor’s justice, as well as enforcing post facto laws, and disapproved for not allowing appeals,[25] ultimately, the trials at Nuremberg set the precedent for future international trials.[26]

Current State of International Tribunals. The precedent set for prosecuting human rights violations has evolved outside of the post-war-jurisdiction process from the Nuremberg Trials. The United Nations now has the ability to establish ad hoc tribunals,[27] and permanent international courts have been established.[28] These courts establish jurisdiction most commonly through treaties, but the U.N. Security Council has the ability to confer jurisdiction by referring the matter to the court. This international process is utilized when the domestic legal system is incapable of, or fails, in prosecuting these kinds of violations. The system has been used to initiate proceedings for violations in Rwanda, Yugoslavia, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to name a few examples.[29]

The International Criminal Court’s prosecution of cases in Darfur is a good example of the U.N. Security Council’s ability to confer jurisdiction.[30] This conferral by the council has resulted in individuals being taken into custody and proceedings initiated.[31]  

 North Korean Camps. Work camps, concentration camps, labor camps, or, as one author rightly referred to them, “North Korean Gulags,”[32] are spread throughout North Korea.[33] However, there is scarce physical evidence to define the extent of what occurs within them. Access to such evidence is further hindered by the government resisting admission to its interior, and even when admission is granted, the government stages the surroundings.[34] The evidence that is available is of poor quality and does not show the true extent of the inner workings within the state.

Individuals are sent to these camps for any number of reasons[35] and sometimes for no reason at all.[36] Offenses that are likely to result in a North Korean being sent to one of these camps include not taking care of their dictator’s image, fleeing the country, or even being related to someone who has committed one of these offenses.[37] To compound matters, the judicial system within the country fails to afford due process rights in any meaningful manner, with instances of erecting firing squad posts prior to any trial and before sentencing.[38]

Despite limited access to physical evidence from within the camps, there are first-hand accounts from inside them.[39] These accounts from escaped prisoners, those that were “re-educated” and then released, and former guards that have fled the country, tell a grim story.[40] While not replacing the impact of hard evidence, these diverse narratives give depth to testimony as well as corroborate what little visual evidence does exist.

These camps are evenly distributed throughout the state, and former prisoners identified them as “usually surrounded at their outer perimeters by barbed-wire (often electrified) fences, punctuated with guard towers and patrolled by armed guards.”[41] These descriptions resemble what it was like in the various NAZI concentration camps.[42] Prisoners are subjected to forced labor and starvation resulting in various ailments ranging from hunched backs to missing limbs.[43] These ailments are only compounded by poor, if any, medical treatment; essentially, the effects of malnourishment on the camp are a much more prolonged version of the NAZI’s gas chambers.[44] The prisoners of these camps are fed little, if at all, and are left to scrounge for food on their own resorting to eating bark and sifting through feces of animals for undigested grains.[45]

Satisfying Solutions to a Dissatisfying Problem. The Nuremberg trials’ prosecuted human rights violations focused on deportation, enslavement, murder, and extermination, where many of the defendants were found guilty. The North Korean regime is equally guilty of such crimes. The North Korean government denies the existence of these camps, all the while operating them and shipping thousands of people that meet particular government classification to them continuously.[46] These people are forced to perform manual labor, and are frequently punished, oftentimes resulting in their death.[47] All the while, the people are starved to death; infanticide of mixed race babies is regularly performed.[48]

North Korea is a member to the following treaties relevant to their human rights violations: the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, 9 December 1948,[49] the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,[50] and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights.[51] Within these treaties, we are able to identify specific violations from which to prosecute those responsible.[52] The matter of jurisdiction, however, would rely on a referral by the U.N. Security Counsel to the International Criminal Court to hold the leaders responsible.[53]

However, it is unlikely that physical custody of North Korea’s regime leaders would ever be achieved.[54] This was the case with Kim Jong-il, who rarely left the country, and even when doing so was escorted by armed guards.[55] Therefore, putting the current dictator on trial ex parte or in absentia would likely have little impact, and the only other means of acquiring physical custody, which could have catastrophic implications, would be through force within the country.[56]

As was the case in the Nuremberg trials, the court should hold other various leaders in the country, outside of the current dictator, responsible for their role in the regime’s committal of the various crimes. Additionally, the ability to acquire physical custody, or eventual custody if a trial in absentia is held, is significantly more likely, because they are not afforded the same protection or travel restrictions as their leader.[57]

In the Nuremburg trials, the defense that German domestic law authorized these acts was insufficient, as laws cannot be passed legalizing such atrocities; so should be the case in a North Korean tribunal. However, unlike the Nuremberg Trials, the “Nuremberg defense” of passing responsibility to a superior officer, should be allowed.[58] The justification for this is two-fold: first, unlike NAZI Germany, the North Korean dictatorship appears to be perpetual; secondly, by allowing this as a defense, evidence can be gathered against other defendants as well as the Kim family. Additionally, by allowing this defense, disunity and suspicion within the regime would likely ensue with party members placing blame on one another, ideally including the current dictator.[59]

The reality of any judicial proceedings will take time, and the country is in constant need of immediate humanitarian aid. Continued aid and support is likely;[60] however, this aid is often diverted from the people who need it most.[61] By cutting off existing types of food aid, and instead offering equally nutritious, but less savory alternatives, the likelihood of it being diverted is lessened.[62] These actions combined with existing luxury embargos against North Korea, could weaken the reward-based system in place which is utilized by the dictatorship.[63]

Additionally, because the threat of destroying Seoul is North Korea’s lynch-pin on the international stage, South Korea must incentivize displacement of Seoul’s population.[64] By spreading out the population over a larger area, the ability to cause mass damage by striking a centralized location is weakened, and with it the power associated with such a threat. This type of displacement can be achieved through land grants, monetary incentives, increased transportation into the city, and other public projects.

Conclusion. Through a multistep process of disrupting the support system, strengthening the starving population, and weakening the impact of a threat on South Korea, immediate action can be taken against North Korea; while pressure on the U.N. Security Council is applied to refer North Korea to the International Criminal Courts. It is no coincidence that this article likens the situation in North Korea to the NAZI Holocaust. Every individual who has received an education in an American primary school has at some point in their academic studies been taught about the Holocaust. By comparing the North Korean situation to something that is more well-known, the hope is that despite the lack of conscience-shocking graphic evidence from North Korea, the international community can still acknowledge the DPRK’s human rights violations and be persuaded to pursue justice. These human rights violations are on-going, with no end in sight. The North Korean people cannot afford further delay by the international community. Pressure must be put on the U.N. Security Council to refer North Korea to the International Criminal Court for their countless human rights violations.[65]

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out--

Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the North Koreans, and I did not speak out--

Because I was not a North Korean.

Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me.

-Martin Niemöller

[1] Erika Gutbrod, Discussion of her experiences during World War II (Mar. 11, 2012). Erika Gutbrod is the author’s grandmother, and “they” were either the SS secret police, or NAZI soldiers. Her family is Catholic from Nuremberg, Germany since before the eighteen hundreds. The “father” they were after was her father, Friedrich Gutbrod, a band conductor in the German Army. Her father, having disagreed with the NAZI ideologies, and thinking it safe, took an opportunity to defect to Austria. This persecution of his eldest daughter ensued.

[2] See Rebecca M. Bratspies, "Organs of Society": A Plea for Human Rights Accountability for Transnational Enterprises and Other Business Entities, 13 Mich. St. J. Int'l L. 9, 17 (2005) (calling the Nuremberg Trials the first “significant” international trials to enforce human rights).

[3] See Michael P. Scharf, The International Trial of Slobodan Milosevic: Real Justice or Realpolitik?, 8 ILSA J. Int'l & Comp. L. 389, 391 (2002) (emphasizing that despite the criticisms, these trials “paved the way” for future trials).

[4] See Human Rights Organizations Call for Action on North Korea on International Human Rights Day, Human Rights Watch, Dec. 8, 2011, (demanding action in North Korea from forty human rights organizations).

[5] Id.

[6] Gerhart Hoffmeister & Frederic C. Tubach, Germany: 2000 Years From the NAZI Era to German Unification 15-16 (The Continuum Publ’g Co., Vol. 3 1998).

[7] Martin Gilbert, The Holocaust a History of the Jews of Europe During the Second World War 50-57 (Henry Hold and Co., 1st ed. 1987).

[8] See Devin O. Pendas, The Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial, 1963-1965 Genocide, History, and the Limits of the Law 109 (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1st ed. 2006) (indicating government involvement).

[9] Gilbert, supra note 7.

[10] See Rutledge, Glossary to Holocaust Literature an Encyclopedia of Writers and Their Work Volume II 1445 (S. Lillian Kremer, 1st ed. 2003) (“[T]he primary purpose was to round up Jews for deportation to the concentration and extermination camps.”).

[11] Id. at 1447.

[12] See Jack G. Morrison, Ravensbruck Everyday Life in a Women’s Concentration Camp 1939-45 224-35 (Markus Wiener, 1st ed. 2000) (discussing Theodor Eicke’s “Disciplinary and Punishment Regulations for the Prison Camp,” and how punishments could, and did, result in death).

[13] Id. at 247.

[14] See Rochelle G. Saidel, The Jewish Women of Ravensbruck Concentration Camp 20 (The Univ. of Wisc. Press, 2006) (stating that Himmler, the Minister of the Interior, “ordered a gas chamber be built at Ravensbruck,” a concentration camp, “for greater efficiency of extermination”).

[15] Churchill: Execute Hitler without Trial,, Jan. 1, 2006,

[16] Id.

[17] See Instrument of Surrender of Germany, World War II, May 7, 1945 (“We . . . hereby surrender unconditionally . . . .” and “[t]he German High Command will at once issue to the appropriate commanders, and ensure the carrying out of any further orders issued . . . .”).

[18] See London Agreement, Charter of the International Military Tribunal, Sec. 6, Aug. 8, 1945.

[19] Id. art. 1 See also Sampson v. Federal Republic of Germany, 250 F.3d 1145, 1150 (7th Cir. 2001) (“Most famously, jus cogens norms supported the prosecutions in the Nuremberg trials.”).

[20] See Prosecutor Justice Robert H. Jackson’s Address to International Military Tribunal (Nov. 21, 1945), Trial of the Major War Criminals Before the International Military Tribunal (stating that twenty-one total nations (“four of the most might of nations, with the support of 17 more”) support the use of international law to administer justice); see also Sampson, 250 F.3d at 1149 (“A jus cogens norm is a norm accepted and recognized by the international community of states as a whole . . . .”).

[21] London Agreement, supra note 18, art. 6 (c).

[22] London Agreement, supra note 18, art. 8.

[23] London Agreement, supra note 18, art. 6 (c).

[24] See Ben S. Austin, The Nuremberg Trials: The Defendants and Verdicts, Jewish Virtual Library, http://www.jewishvirtual (last visited April 15, 2012) (“Of the 22 defendants, 11 were given the death penalty, 3 were acquitted, 3 were given life imprisonment and four were given imprisonment ranging from 10 to 20 years.”).

[25] Scharf, supra note 3.

[26] Gwynne Skinner, Nuremberg's Legacy Continues: The Nuremberg Trials' Influence on Human Rights Litigation in U.S. Courts Under the Alien Tort Statute, 71 Alb. L. Rev. 321, 325 (2008) (stating “that the use of the Nuremberg trials as precedent in modern domestic human rights litigation is appropriate”).

[27] Kelly D. Askin, Prosecuting Wartime Rape and Other Gender-Related Crimes Under International Law: Extraordinary Advances, Enduring Obstacles, 21 Berkeley J. Int’l L. 288, 305 (2003) (giving examples of the United Nations Security Council utilizing its power under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter to create ad hoc tribunals).

[28] See History of the ICC, Coalition for the International Criminal Court, (last visited Apr. 15, 2012) (outlining the establishment of the International Criminal Court); see also The Court, International Court of Justice, (last visited April 15, 2012) (outlining the creation of the International Court of Justice).

[29] See Situations and Cases, International Criminal Court, (last visited Apr. 15, 2012) (stating the cases and situations of the ICC).

[30] S.C. Res. 1593, U.N. Doc. S/RES/1593 (Mar. 31, 2005).

[31] See Darfur, Sudan, International Criminal Court, /Situation+ICC+0205/ (last visited Apr. 15, 2012) (outlining the stages of the cases against each defendant in the Darfur proceedings).

[32] David Hawk, The Hidden Gulag (Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, 2d ed. 2012).

[33] See Advancing Science, Serving Society, Geospatial Technologies and Human Rights North Korea’s Prison Camps Case Study Summary, (photo reprint 2007) (2003) available at (last visited April 29, 2012) (showing the location of known camps on a map of North Korea).

[34] See Blaine Harden, Outside World Turns Blind Eye to N. Korea’s Hard-Labor Camps 1, The Washington Post (July 20, 2009),‑dyn/content/article/2009/07/19/AR2009071902178.html?hpid=topnews&sid=ST200 9071902186 (“North Korea . . . restricts movements of the few foreigners it allows into the country and severely punishes those who sneak in.”).

[35] See David Hawk, Preface to The Hidden Gulag 4 (Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, 2d ed. 2012) (listing some of the offenses that can get you sent to a labor camp: “listening to a foreign radio broadcast, holding a Protestant religious service, watching a South Korean DVD, leaving dust on Kim Il-sung’s picture, exiting the country without permission, expressing critical remarks about government polices, or having a father or grandfather who was a landowner or defected to South Korea or worked for the Japanese . . . .”).

[36] See Harden, supra note 34, at 2 (“Guilt by association is legal under North Korean law, and up to three generations of a wrongdoer’s family are sometimes imprisoned . . . .”).

[37] See Harden, supra text accompanying note 36; see also Hawk, supra text accompanying note 35.

[38] See Darren C. Zook, Reforming North Korea: Law, Politics, and the Market Economy, 48 Stan. J. Int'l L. 131, 148 (2012) (explaining the North Korean legal process: “legal decisions can be rendered with only a hearing before an Extraordinary Tribunal, since the Ministry of State Security is not a part of the judiciary and is not required to hold formal trials. Many political crimes in the DPRK--especially counter-revolutionary crimes or the crime of ideological divergence—that carry a mandatory death sentence are therefore frequently adjudicated and sentenced outside the judicial system with almost no possibility for appeal”).

[39] See Hawk, supra note 35 (telling the story of a few dozen former-prisoners of the various camps in North Korea).

[40] See Harden, supra note 34, at 1-4 (giving the account of both an escaped prisoner and a defected guard).

[41] Hawk, supra note 35, at 27.

[42] Jane Shuter, The Holocaust Resistance to the Nazis 20 (Heinemann Liab., 1st ed. 2003) (“Most were surrounded by rings of electrified barbed wire fences, with guardhouses set in them to watch the prisoners.”).

[43] See Harden, supra note 34 (“Eating a diet of mostly corn and salt, they lose their teeth, their gums turn black, their bones weaken and, as they age, they hunch over at the waist. Most work 12- to 15-hour days until they die of malnutrition-related illnesses . . . .”).

[44] See Saidel, supra note 14.

[45] See Hawk, supra note 35, at 48 (“Enterprises at Camp 14 include . . . livestock-raising. The latter was considered as the occupation of choice, as the prisoners has the opportunity to steal animal food and even pick through the droppings for undigested grains.”).

[46] See Never Again? The Gross Abuses of Human Rights in North Korea Shame the Whole World, The Economist (Aug. 21, 2012), available at (“[The] regime divides the population in to hereditary classes of the ‘loyal’, ‘wavering’ and ‘hostile’. The [camps are] filled with the third kind . . . .”).

[47] See Kang Chol-Hwan & Pierre Rigoulot, The Aquariums of Pyongyang chap. 7 (Basic Books, 2001) (discussing how “most [felt] oppressed by the physical demands of forced labor and the looming threat of punishment.”); see also id. at chap. 8 (recalling that punishments could be issued for “the most trifling of offenses . . . stealing three ears of corn, responding to a guard’s command with insufficient zeal, missing a role call . . . .” was enough to get you punished and “not know whether the loved one would make it out alive.”). 

[48] See Hawk, supra note 35, at 95 (“[A] group of ten pregnant women . . . were going to be taken to the local hospital to abort their ‘half-Chinese’ babies. . . . The guards put [one of them] on the floor on her back and placed a board over her swollen womb, and pistol-whipped two male prisoners until they agreed to jump up and down on the board.”); see also Hawk, supra note 35, at 124-25 (“A doctor explained that since North Korea was short on food, the country should not have to feed the children of foreign fathers. When the box was full of dead babies . . . it was taken outside and buried.”); see also Hawk, supra note 35, at 146 (“At the mobile labor brigade, he observed a pregnant woman being taunted . . . before forcing her to abort the half-Chinese baby.”).

[49] Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, opened for signature Dec. 9, 1948, 78 U.N.T.S. 277 (entered into force Jan. 12, 1951) [hereinafter Genocide Convention].

[50] International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, opened for signature Dec. 19, 1966, 999 U.N.T.S. 171 (entered into force Mar. 23 1976) [hereinafter Civil Rights Convention].

[51] International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, opened for signature Dec. 19, 1966, 999 U.N.T.S. 3 (entered into force Jan. 3, 1976). [hereinafter Cultural Rights Convention].

[52] See Civil Rights Convention, supra note 50, art. 6 Cl. 1 (“Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.”); Civil Rights Convention, supra note 50, art. 7 (“No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”); Civil Rights Convention, supra note 50, art. 8 Cl. 3 (“(a) no one shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labour;”);  Cultural Rights Convention, supra note 51, art. 10 Cl. 3 (“Special measure of protection and assistance should be taken on behalf of all children and young persons without any discrimination for reasons of parentage or other conditions.”);  Genocide Convention, supra note 49, at Art I (“[G]enocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under international law . . . .”); Genocide Convention, supra note 49, at Art II (“[G]enocide means any of the following acts with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group;” (emphasis added to draw attention to national groups such as those created in the government’s classification, and ethnical groups such as Chinese-Korean babies)).

[53] Askin, supra note 27. Alternatively the use of treaty law may be utilized to institute trials. See Genocide Convention, supra note 49, art. III (“the following acts shall be punishable: (a) genocide . . . .”); Genocide Convention, supra note 49, art. IV (“Persons committing genocide . . . shall be punished, whether they are constitutional responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals.”), Genocide Convention, supra note 49, art. VI (“Persons charged with genocide . . . shall be tried by a competent tribunal . . . by such international penal tribunal as may have jurisdiction with respect to those Contracting Parties which shall have accepted its jurisdiction.” (emphasis added)). 

[54] See Simon Shuster, International Man of Mystery: Kim Jong Il’s Russian Roots and Travels, TIME World, Dec. 21, 2011, available at,8599,2102917,00.html (stating Kim Jong Il usually traveled by armored train).

[55] See John M. Glionna, Kim Jong Il’s Guard Set Himself Free, Los Angeles Times, February 20, 2011, available at (discussing Kim Jong Il’s body guards, stating that “120 bodyguards . . . oversaw Kim’s every move.”).

[56] See Robert J. Myers, Korea in the Cross Currents a Century of Struggle and the Crisis of Reunification 151 (Palgrave, 1st ed. 2001) (“North Korean artillery and missiles [could] obliterate Seoul in hours. Seoul represents 25 percent of South Korea’s Population . . . if there is a war in Korea, it will not be initiated by either South Korea or the U.S.”).

[57] See Ralph C. Hassig & Kongdan Oh, The Hidden People of North Korea: Everyday Life in the Hermit Kingdom 221 (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2009) (“[T]he North Korean ambassador to Egypt defected to the United States with his family” in the August of 1997 to illustrate how other leaders and higher ranked officials are given more movement, allowing them to defect, but also making those unwilling to defect more vulnerable to be detained for criminal proceedings).

[58] See Anna Triponel, Stephen Pearson, African States and the International Criminal Court: A Silent Revolution in International Criminal Law, 12 J. L. & Soc. Challenges 65, 86 (2010) (discussing how the Rome Statute excludes the use of “superior orders” as a defense); see also Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, July 17, 1998, 2187 U.N.T.S. 90 (utilizing the non-ratification of the Rome Statute by North Korea as justification for allowing the use of this defense in these rare circumstances, noting that defendants would  need to prove the defense sufficiently).

[59] See Harden, supra note 34, at 3 (quoting a guard as saying “all high-ranking officials underneath Kim Jong Il know that one misstep means you go to the camps, along with your family,” indicating a need for control, and how this disunity would disrupt that control).

[60] See World Food Programme, Korea, Democratic People’s Republic: Overview, WFP.ORG (Apr. 29, 2012, 6:32 PM), /Korea--Democratic-People-s-Republic--DPRK-/Overview (indicating that they alone have been providing food aid since 1995).

[61] Stephan Haggard & Marcus Noland, Famine in North Korea: Markets, Aid, and Reform 108-9 (Columbia Univ. Press, 2007) (discussing how diversion of food aid is occurring in various forms).

[62] See Haggard et al., supra note 61, at 110 (discussing how the Korean military prefers “Korean rice,” that most WFP aid comes in the form of “wheat, corn, and protein biscuits,” and that the less desirable the food the less the elite are willing to take it).

[63] S.C. Res. 1718, U.N. Doc. SC/8853 (Oct. 14, 2006).

[64] See Myers, supra note 56.

[65] See China Joins World Powers in Strong Warning to North Korea, Voice of America, (May 1, 2012) available at (indicating that China “took ‘a clear attitude in condemning” a recent North Korean rocket launch, and cited China’s party controlled Global Times newspaper as stating that “[North Korea] should not be misled into thinking it can ignore Beijing’s wishes with impunity . . . North Korea will ‘pay the price if it tries to abduct China’s North Korea Policy.”) The wavering support by North Korea’s biggest ally presents itself with an opportunity to begin talks to prosecute those responsible and cease these continued human rights violations. Id.

Bill Wojnarowski is a 3L law student at Northern Illinois University College of Law, graduating in May of 2013. He received his undergraduate degree in Political Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign., and is interested in corporate law and human rights on a domestic and international level. He would like to thank Professor Morse Tan of NIU’s College of Law for his insight and expertise on the current issues facing North Korea. Bill can be reached at for questions or comments.
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