Life in North Korea is, in a word, horrific. Kim Jong Un, the third in a line of absolute dictators, controls every aspect of life. Two experts on North Korea, Melanie Kirkpatrick, former opinion editor at the Wall Street Journal, and her husband, Jack David, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense in the George W. Bush administration, both now affiliated with the Hudson Institute, spoke about the secretive country at Noble Horizons on March 24. Ms. Kirkpatrick is the author of Escape From North Korea: The Untold Story of Asia’s Underground Railroad, published in 2014.
“North Korea is not a normal country,” Ms. Kirkpatrick said. “We forget this at our peril.” She and Mr. David went on to describe a state where, according to a United Nations study, one-third of the children under age five have stunted growth due to malnutrition. Where 120,000 men, women and children are in prison camps subjected to hunger, torture and forced labor for such crimes as owning a Bible, speaking ill of the Kim regime or leaving the country without permission. And there is the nuclear and conventional military threat to the rest of the world.
The one positive development is that people have escaped and sent news about the world outside back via contraband cell phones. Organizations in South Korea educate North Koreans about the truth of the Kim regime. There is the possibility of dissent, Ms. Kirkpatrick said.