Women are forced to abort their children because they are deemed to be racially ‘impure’.
Three generations of one family are sentenced to life imprisonment in a concentration camp — there are around 30 in the country — for the most minor of crimes committed by a single family member.
This may sound like Nazi Germany, but these are the horrors being lived through in North Korea today.
Startling testimonies from those who have escaped the totalitarian regime have laid bare the extent of human rights abuses in the country.
This week, the United Nations published a 374-page report on the atrocities to which the people of North Korea are subjected under the despotic regime of Kim Jong-Un.
Those who compiled the report describe North Korea as a ‘shock to the conscience of humanity’ and a place ‘that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world’.
Their report states: ‘In the political prison camps of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the inmate population has been gradually eliminated through deliberate starvation, forced labour, executions, torture, rape and . . . forced abortion and infanticide.’
In an unprecedented step, the head of the investigating panel, retired Australian judge Michael Kirby, has written to the 31-year-old North Korean dictator, warning him that he and his senior officials could one day face being prosecuted by the International Criminal Court for their crimes against humanity.
Since 1948, the country has been ruled by the Kim family. When Kim Il-Sung took power he subjected North Korea to his own brand of hardline Communism combined with the most extreme personality cult.
His son, Kim Jong-Il and grandson Kim Jong-Un have maintained the regime.
The result has been decades of famine, poverty and state-sponsored brutality.
The people have been brainwashed to worship their ‘Dear Leader’ despite the physical privations and mental tortures they have suffered.
The report makes for gruesome reading. It is particularly chilling to note that even the slightest of infringements can see a person locked up for decades.
This is a country where a man was sent to prison for absent-mindedly using a newspaper printed with a photograph of Kim Jong-Il to mop up a spilled drink.
According to another of the 80 witnesses who testified to the UN, a member of a hospital staff was investigated by State Security for accidentally breaking a portrait of Kim Il-sung while she was cleaning it.
The voices that follow are among those who escaped what has truly become a hell on earth.
Taken from the UN hearings, books, and testimonies to human rights organisations, these raw accounts told in the halting words of the victims, many of whom have only latterly learned to speak English, describe in terrifying detail the torture and misery that have been endured by the people of North Korea for more than 60 years.