Our View: We need to worry about North Korea, but not because of nukes

DKS Editors

If you haven’t been living under a rock lately, you’ve heard North Korea and its leader Kim Jong Un have been increasing their threats of nuclear war against the United States. The U.S. — everyone from White House correspondent Jay Carney to Saturday Night Live’s Seth Meyers — has brushed off North Korea’s threats as empty rhetoric.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be concerned with North Korea. The real victims of Kim’s communist rule are North Korea’s own citizens. While Kim is preoccupied with developing long-range missiles, millions of North Koreans are suffering from starvation and chronic malnutrition. New satellite images from Amnesty International in March indicate that prison camps are expanding.

The prison camps are particularly heinous — not only because they torture, deny food and force labor on innocent people whose only crimes were to disagree with their government — but because of North Korea’s policy of “collective punishment.” A single perceived infraction against the government can result in you, your children and your children’s children being held in a prison camp. The exact count of people in prison camps is unclear because independent media does not exist. It is also dangerous for outside journalists to try to report in North Korea. Reports don’t come from the common people, either, as very few people have Internet access, and those that do are heavily monitored. The government also monitors cell phone use.

So what is the U.S. doing about this nation-wide human rights campaign? The United Nations Human Rights Council, of which the U.S. is a member, set up a Commission of Inquiry in March to investigate the human rights situation in North Korea. The investigation will last a year and will judge whether North Korea has committed crimes against humanity.

And what can we do? Stop giving so much attention to idle missile threats and start raising awareness for the human rights situation in North Korea. The more attention we give to the situation, the more pressure is put on international leaders to step up and do something about it.

As Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.