The American public’s view of North Korea’s Kim Jong Un has been framed by silly military photo ops and Dennis Rodman’s strange friendship with the leader of a dynastic dictatorship. As a “Saturday Night Live” caricature, Kim isn’t nearly as menacing as the man himself.
A more realistic view was reinforced on Monday when a United Nations panel issued a horrifying human rights report on North Korea.
In unsparing detail, it described crimes against humanity that lead directly to Kim, including “systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations” that are “pursuant to policies established at the highest levels of the State,” which have no “parallel in the contemporary world.”
The world’s worst dictatorship is accused of crimes that include “extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation.”
The U.N. panel would already have provided a vital service had it only cataloged crimes against humanity. But it didn’t stop there. It recommended that the U.N. Security Council refer the matter to the International Criminal Court so “that those most responsible for crimes against humanity are brought to justice.” This could possibly include Kim himself.
Security Council action could be blocked by China, whose government has not only immorally enabled three generations of Kims, but also has repatriated North Koreans even though they face persecution, torture, prolonged arbitrary detention, sexual violence, forced abortions and infanticide.
China’s Foreign Ministry said that “it will not help the situation to bring the issue to an international court.”
China’s government is wrong on that issue and on its broader approach. It has the most leverage with Kim’s government, which will never reform on its own. Outside pressure is essential in stopping North Korea’s decadeslong reign of terror. The world cannot look away from this damning document. Responsible nations, including those with the privilege of Security Council membership, should press ahead to indict Kim and others in his government.