At the end of September, MBC News, a news source based in South Korea, covered a story about a man who mistakenly crossed the DMZ in the sea and was then killed by North Korean soldiers.
The man was a government official who was near the maritime border of the DMZ on Sept. 21, when he crossed the border. Soldiers then proceeded to fire upon the unarmed man, killing him and possibly even burning his body. An investigation by the South Korean military revealed that the soldiers responsible wore hazardous material suits, leading them to the conclusion that the North Korean military had, in fact, fired on the man due to the danger of COVID-19 spreading across the border.
When thinking about the current medical infrastructure of North Korea, the murder may be understandable. They do not have the advanced medical equipment that the U.S. does, nor do they have the means necessary to help stop the spreading of COVID-19 if it crosses the border. COVID-19 would likely do large amounts of damage to both the population and North Korea’s already meager economy, as well as possibly worsening the relationship between itself and South Korea, if it spread throughout the population.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un even apologized for the killing of the man recently on Sept. 25, a first-ever apology to South Korea for any situation.
However, this does not take away from the fact that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is, yet again, violating basic human rights.
There have already been numerous attempts to reveal the DPRK’s violation of human rights, including a 400-page report by the United Nation Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry released in 2014, an unofficial 2017 follow-up report by the International Bar Association and countless testimonies given by North Korean defectors across the world.
All of these revealed the various crimes that the DPRK has committed against its citizens, crimes including but not limited to starvation, persecution of Christians, forced labor, forced abortions, torture, rape, infanticide, and systematic murder.
None of these reports have garnered much international attention, especially with recent talks between the U.S. and North Korea about the allegedly more important denuclearization of the DPRK.
Solutions have to be found but constant pressure to denuclearize and the prosecution of the perpetrators of these crimes against humanity are not going to work, at least, not in the long term.
The most realistic and the most likely solution is to end the ongoing Korean War.
With the end of the Korean War, North Korea would finally denuclearize, having no more fears about foreign invasions or other threats to the nation. With denuclearization, economic sanctions would be removed and other countries would finally be able to support North Korea’s economy openly and freely. International organizations would be able to help North Korea end its dictatorship and communist government. With the end of the dictatorship and communism and its improved economy, North Korean citizens would finally be able to receive the basic freedoms that a citizen anywhere else in the world would have.
Constant pressure to denuclearize will not work. Economic sanctions will not work. Reports with clear evidence of human rights violations and war crimes do not work.
As of right now, the end of the Korean War is by far the best way for North Korean citizens to regain their basic human rights and liberties.
Noah Jung is a junior at Stargate Charter High School who plans on pursuing a career as an international lawyer.