Tom Malinowski of Human Rights Watch, speaking at an American Enterprise Institute conference, had this to say about North Korean totalitarianism:
In devising a strategy for addressing the issue, it is important to take into account the unique nature of the North Korean regime. This is a regime that has isolated its people, not just from the outside world, but from all knowledge of the outside world.
This dictatorship has tried to deny its people the ability to even imagine an alternative way of life. Probably no totalitarian government in history has succeeded in doing this to the extent that the North Korean government has.
North Korea has been likened to a steel box with a few holes through which light can shine. The strategy must be to punch more holes into the box and let more light through. Until there is more awareness inside North Korea, there is very little the outside world can do in the ways that dictatorships are traditionally pressured to change.
Any dialogue with North Korea needs to have some human rights content. Talks with North Korea about nuclear issues should not preclude other security issues or human rights issues and reform.