Political satire, jokes at the expenses of national leaders, and outright criticism of the government are normal parts of both public and private lives in democratically based states across the globe.
But North Korea is not a free and open society. So what do North Koreans think about their leaders?
An interview project with North Koreans currently residing in North Korea found that 35 of 36 respondents’ family, friends, or neighbors complain or make jokes about the government in private.
The fact that all but one of the interviewees say people they know complain and makes jokes about the government is an extraordinary number given the gravity with which the North Korean regime responds to criticism.
The UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights (published in February 2014) on the subject of North Korean’s rights and freedoms found that there is “an almost complete denial of the right to freedom of thought… as well as of the rights to freedom of opinion.”
People who express dissent or criticize the state, even if unintentionally, are subject to harsh punishments and detention, often punished without trial. Suspects of political crimes may simply disappear and their relatives may never be notified of the arrest, the charges, or the whereabouts of the alleged criminal. If not executed, citizens accused of major political crimes are sent to a political prison camp.
[Read more at Beyond Parallel]