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Title:  Democratic People's Rep. of Korea Human Rights Practices, 1995  
Author:  U.S. Department of State   
Date:  March 1996   
 
 
 
 
                DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF KOREA* 
 
 
--------------------- 
 
*The United States does not have diplomatic relations with the 
Democratic People's Republic of Korea.  North Korea does not allow 
representatives of foreign governments, journalists, or other invited 
visitors the freedom of movement that would enable them to assess human 
rights conditions there.  This report is based on information obtained 
over a period of time extending from well before 1995, as updated where 
possible by information drawn from recent interviews, reports, and 
documentation.  While limited in detail, this information is nonetheless 
indicative of the human rights situation in North Korea today. 
 
------------------------

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) is a dictatorship under 
the absolute rule of the Korean Workers' Party (KWP).  Kim Il Sung ruled 
the DPRK from its inception until his death in July 1994.  Although he 
has not assumed his father's positions of President of the DPRK and 
Secretary General of the KWP,  Kim Jong Il's leadership appears to be 
unchallenged.  Both Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il continue to be the 
objects of intense personality cults. 
 
The Korean People's Armed Forces is the primary organization responsible 
for external security.  It is assisted by a sizable military reserve 
force and several quasi-military forces, including the Worker-Peasant 
Red Guards and the People's Security Force.  These organizations assist 
the Ministry of Public Security and cadres of the Korean Workers Party 
in maintaining internal security.  Members of the security forces 
committed serious human rights abuses. 
 
The State directs all significant economic activity, and only 
government-supervised labor unions are permitted.  According to some 
estimates, the economy has contracted in each of the last 5 years, 
largely due to the collapse of the Soviet bloc and the elimination of 
Soviet and Chinese concessional trade and aid.  Economic development 
continues to be hindered by distribution bottlenecks, inefficient 
allocation of resources, lack of access to international credit stemming 
from the DPRK's default on much of its foreign debt, and by the 
diversion of a quarter of the gross national product to military 
expenditures.  In 1995 North Korea admitted publicly for the first time 
that it suffered from food shortages, which were exacerbated by 
widespread flooding in the summer; it sought international food aid as 
well as other forms of assistance.  Food, clothing, and energy are 
rationed throughout the country. 
 
The Government continues to deny its citizens human rights.  Citizens do 
not have the right peacefully to change their government.  There 
continued to be reports of extrajudicial killings and disappearances.  
Torture and harsh prison conditions are common.  Citizens are detained 
arbitrarily and many are held as political prisoners.  The 
constitutional provisions for an independent judiciary and fair trials 
are not implemented in practice.  The North Korean regime subjects its 
citizens to rigid controls.  The state leadership perceives most 
international norms of human rights, especially individual rights, as 
illegitimate and alien social artifacts subversive to the goals of the 
State and party.  The Penal Code is draconian, stipulating capital 
punishment and confiscation of all assets for a wide variety of "crimes 
against the revolution," including defection, slander of the policies of  
the party or State, listening to foreign broadcasts, and possessing 
"reactionary" printed matter.  The Government prohibits freedom of the 
press and association; all forms of cultural and media activities are 
under the tight control of the party.  Little outside information 
reaches the public except that approved and disseminated by the 
Government.  The Government restricts freedom of religion, citizens' 
movements, and workers' rights. 
 
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS 
 
Section 1   Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom 
from: 
 
   a.   Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing 
 
According to defector sources, the regime continued summary executions 
of political prisoners, political opponents, repatriated defectors, and 
others (reportedly including military officers suspected of plotting 
against Kim Jong Il).  The Criminal Law makes the death penalty 
mandatory for activities "in collusion with imperialists" aimed at 
"suppressing the national liberation struggle."  Some prisoners  
are sentenced to death for such ill-defined "crimes" as "ideological 
divergence," "opposing socialism," and other "counterrevolutionary 
crimes." 
 
   b.   Disappearance 
 
There is no reliable information on disappearances within North Korea.  
However, there continued to be numerous reports of DPRK involvement in 
the kidnaping abroad of South Koreans, Japanese, and other foreign 
nationals.  The Japanese press estimates that as many as 20 Japanese may 
have been kidnaped and remain in detention in North Korea.  In addition, 
several cases of kidnaping, hostage taking, and other acts of violence 
allegedly intended to intimidate ethnic Koreans living in China and 
Russia were reported.  The DPRK denies these reports. 
 
Amnesty International (AI) reports issued in 1993, 1994, and 1995 detail 
a number of cases, including that of Japanese citizen Shibata Kozo and 
his wife Shin Sung Suk, who left Japan in 1960 and resettled in North 
Korea.  Mr. Shibata was reportedly arrested in 1962, allegedly after 
encouraging a demonstration against the poor treatment given to former 
residents of Japan.  In 1993 AI claimed that he was still in  
custody, and in poor health.  AI stated that there had been no word 
about his wife and three children since 1965.  In June AI was informed 
by North Korean officials that Shibata Kozo, his wife, children, and 
grandchildren died in a train accident in early 1990, a few weeks after 
his release from nearly 30 years in prison.  However, AI has received 
other reports that Shibata Kozo was still in custody at the time of the 
alleged accident.   
 
In another case cited by AI in 1993, North Korean officials informed AI 
in April that Japanese citizen Cho Ho Pyong, his ethnic Japanese wife 
Koike Hideko, and their three young children were killed in 1972, while 
attempting to flee the country.  The North Korean authorities told AI 
that Cho had escaped from a detention center, where he was being held 
for spying, killing a guard.   
 
In September AI reported that three ethnic Korean residents of Beijing, 
China (ages 16, 18, and 20) had been taken to North Korea against their 
will in apparent retaliation for criticism of North Korean human rights 
violations made by their father, a former prisoner in North Korea, on 
Japanese television and in the Japanese press.  The North Korean 
authorities deny this allegation, claiming that the three brothers had 
been deported to North Korea for breaking Chinese law, and that they are 
now living with relatives.  AI has been unable to confirm this account 
and at year's end was still concerned about the welfare of the three 
brothers.   
 
Numerous reports indicate that ordinary citizens are not allowed to mix 
with foreign nationals, and AI reported that a number of North Koreans 
who maintained friendships with foreigners have disappeared.  In at 
least one case, AI reported that a citizen who had disappeared was 
executed for maintaining a friendship with a Russian National. 
 
   c.   Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or 
Punishment 
 
While there is no information on recent practices, credible reports 
indicate that prisoners are routinely tortured or ill-treated, and that 
many prisoners have died from torture, disease, starvation, or exposure.  
There are increasing reports of executions reportedly carried out at 
public meetings and rallies attended by workers, students, and school 
children.  Executions have also been carried out before assembled 
inmates at places of detention. 
 
According to international nongovernmental organization (NGO) and 
defector sources, whole families, including children, are imprisoned 
together.  "Reeducation through labor" is common punishment, consisting 
of forced labor (logging, tending crops) under harsh conditions.  A 
small number of people who claim to have escaped from North Korean 
detention camps report that starvation and executions are common.  In 
one prison, clothing was reportedly issued only once in a 3-year period.  
Former inmates have produced photographs of an inmate wearing specially 
designed leg irons which permit walking but make running impossible.  AI 
reports the existence of "punishment cells," too low to permit standing 
upright and too small for lying down flat, where prisoners are kept for 
up to several weeks for breaking prison rules.  Recent visitors to North 
Korea report observing prisoners being marched in leg irons, metal 
collars, and shackles.  With the exception of one model "rehabilitation 
center" visited by Amnesty International representatives, the Government 
has not permitted inspection of prisons by human rights monitors.   
 
   d.   Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile 
 
There are no practical restrictions on the ability of the North Korean 
Government to detain and imprison residents of North Korea at will, and 
hold them incommunicado.   
 
Little information is available on North Korea's criminal justice 
procedures and practices, and outside observation of its legal system 
has been limited to apparent show trials on traffic violations and other 
minor offenses. 
 
Family members or other concerned persons find it virtually impossible 
to obtain information on charges against detained persons.  Judicial 
review of detentions does not exist in law or in practice. 
 
Defectors claim that North Korea detains about 150,000 political 
prisoners and family members in maximum security camps in remote areas.  
An October 1992 report by two former inmates made reference to the 
severe living conditions in what they called "concentration camps."  
North Korean officials deny the existence of such gulags or prisons but 
admit the existence of "education centers" for people who "commit crimes 
by mistake." 
 
One credible report lists 12 such prison camps in the DPRK.  It is 
believed that some former high officials are imprisoned in the camps.  
Any form of communication with detainees, including visitors, although 
once allowed, is now said to be prohibited. 
 
In July 1991, a North Korean defector who had been a ranking official in 
the Ministry of Public Security said that there were two types of 
detention areas.  One consists of closed camps from which prisoners 
never emerge and where conditions are extremely harsh.  In the other 
type, prisoners can be "rehabilitated."    
 
   e.   Denial of Fair Public Trial 
 
The Constitution states that courts are independent and that judicial 
proceedings are to be carried out in strict accordance with the law.  
The Constitution contains elaborate procedural guarantees, and it states 
that "cases are heard in public, and the accused is guaranteed the right 
to defense; hearings may be closed to the public as stipulated by law."  
However, an independent judiciary and individual rights do not exist in 
fact in the DPRK.  The Public Security Ministry dispenses with trials in 
political cases and refers defendants to the Ministry of State Security 
for imposition of punishment. 
 
When trials are held, lawyers are apparently assigned by the Government.  
Reports indicate that defense lawyers are not considered representatives 
of the accused, but rather are expected to help the court by persuading 
the accused to confess guilt.  Some reports note a distinction between 
those accused of political crimes and common criminals and state that 
the Government affords trials only to the latter.  The Government 
considers critics of the regime to be "political criminals."   
 
Numerous reports suggest that political offenses have in the past 
included sitting on newspapers bearing Kim Il Sung's picture, or (in the 
case of a professor reportedly sentenced to work as a laborer) noting in 
class that Kim Il Sung had received little formal education.  A 
foreigner hired to work on foreign broadcasts for the regime in the 
1970's was imprisoned for 1 year without trial for criticizing the 
quality of the regime's foreign propaganda, and then imprisoned for an 
additional 6 more years (with trial) shortly after his release for 
claiming in a private conversation that his original imprisonment was 
unjust.  While AI has listed 58 political prisoners by name, the total 
number of political prisoners being held is unknown.  Several defectors 
and former inmates reported that the total figure is approximately 
150,000. 
 
   f.   Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
Correspondence 
 
The constitutional stipulation that "citizens are guaranteed the 
inviolability of person and residence and the privacy of correspondence" 
does not reflect reality.  The Government relies upon an extensive, 
multilevel system of informers to identify critics and potential 
troublemakers.  Whole communities are sometimes subjected to massive 
security checks.  According to Kim Jong Il, North Korean society 
embodies "a new way of thinking" which cannot be evaluated on the basis 
of "old yardsticks" of human rights imported from abroad.  In this 
context, the DPRK celebrates the closed nature of its society as a 
virtue.  The possession of "reactionary material" and listening to 
foreign broadcasts are both considered crimes which may subject the 
transgressor to the death penalty.  In some cases, entire families are 
punished for political offenses allegedly committed by one member of the 
family. 
 
The Government's ideology is derived from Marxist-Leninist concepts of 
collective consciousness and the "Juche" idea of self-reliance 
propounded by Kim Il Sung.  Although Juche is generally translated as 
"self-reliance," it more literally means "the ability to act 
independently without regard to outside interference."  Originally 
described as "a creative application of Marxism-Leninism" in the Korean 
context, Juche is a malleable philosophy, reinterpreted from time to 
time by the regime as its ideological needs change and used by the 
regime as a "spiritual" underpinning for its rule. 
 
As defined by Kim Il Sung, the Juche idea connotes a quasi-mystical 
concept in which the collective will of the people is distilled into a 
supreme leader whose every act is by definition in accordance with the 
State and society's needs.  An October 1995 commentary in the North 
Korean press explained that "the leader is not an individual, but the 
brain of the revolution, the center of unity, and the supreme person who 
represents the popular masses."  Opposition to such a leader, or to the 
rules, regulations, and goals established by his regime, is thus in 
itself opposition to the national interest.  The regime therefore claims 
a social interest in identifying and isolating such people. 
 
The Government continued to classify citizens into three main classes:  
"core," "wavering," and "hostile."  These 3 classes are further 
subdivided into over 50 subcategories based on perceived loyalty to the 
party and the leadership.  Security ratings are assigned to each 
individual; according to some estimates, as much as 75 percent of the 
population is designated as either wavering or hostile.  These loyalty 
ratings determine access to employment, higher education, place of 
residence, medical facilities, and certain stores, and affect the 
severity of punishment in the case of legal infractions.  While there 
are signs that the Government has eased enforcement of this rigid system 
in recent years, it remains a basic feature of North Korean society.   
 
The authorities subject citizens in all age groups and occupations to 
intensive political and ideological indoctrination.  Even after Kim Il 
Sung's death, his cult of personality and glorification of his family 
and the official Juche ideology continued to be omnipresent.  The North 
Korean press regularly reports the occurrence of miracles on the 
anniversary of Kim Il Sung's birth.  The cult approaches the level of a 
state religion.   
 
The goal of indoctrination remains to ensure loyalty to the Kim Il Sung 
system and to his son and heir Kim Jong Il, as well as conformity to the 
State's ideology and authority.  The necessity for intensification of 
such indoctrination is repeatedly stressed in the writings of Kim Jong 
Il, who attributes the collapse of the Soviet Union largely to 
insufficient ideological indoctrination, compounded by the entry of 
foreign influences.   
 
Indoctrination is carried out systematically not only through the mass 
media, but also in schools and through worker and neighborhood 
associations.  Kim Jong Il has recently stated that ideological 
education must take precedence over academic education in the nation's 
schools, and has also called for the intensification of mandatory 
ideological study and discussion sessions for adult workers.  One 
objective of these extended studies is to deny citizens sufficient 
leisure time in which to engage in undesirable activities or reflection.   
 
Another aspect of the State's indoctrination system is the use of mass 
marches, rallies, and staged performances, sometimes involving hundreds 
of thousands of people.  The recent celebration of the 50th anniversary 
of the founding of the Korean Workers' Party included several hours of 
carefully choreographed demonstrations of mass adulation of the 
leadership, reportedly involving virtually the entire population of 
Pyongyang and outlying communities.  Foreign visitors were told that 
nonparticipation by Pyongyang residents in this event was unthinkable.  
 
Citizens with relatives who fled to South Korea at the time of the 
Korean War appear to be classified as part of the hostile class in the 
DPRK's elaborate loyalty system.  This subcategory alone encompasses a 
significant percentage of the North Korean population.  One defector 
estimated that the class of those considered potentially hostile may 
comprise 25 to 30 percent of the population; others place the figure at 
closer to 20 percent.  Members of this class are subject to 
discrimination, although a defector has claimed that their treatment has 
improved greatly in recent years.   
 
The Government monitors correspondence and telephones.  Telephones are 
restricted to domestic operation (see Section 2.a.). 
 
Section 2   Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: 
 
   a.   Freedom of Speech and Press 
 
Articles of the Constitution that require citizens to follow the 
"Socialist norms of life" and to obey a "collective spirit" take 
precedence over individual political or civil liberties.  Although the 
Constitution provides for freedom of speech, press, assembly, and 
association, the Government prohibits the exercise of these rights in 
practice.  The regime permits only activities which support its 
objectives. 
 
The Government strictly curtails freedom of expression.  The authorities 
may punish persons criticizing the regime or its policies by 
imprisonment or "corrective labor."  One defector reported in 1986 that 
a scientist, whose home was bugged through his radio set, was arrested 
and executed for statements made at home that were considered critical 
of Kim Il Sung.  In another case, AI reports that a family formerly 
resident in Japan was sent to a reeducation through labor center because 
one member of the family allegedly made remarks disparaging the 
Government. 
 
The Government attempts to control all information that enters and 
leaves the DPRK.  It carefully manages the visits of Western 
journalists.  Domestic media censorship is strictly enforced, and no 
deviation from the official government line is tolerated.   
 
The regime prohibits listening to foreign media broadcasts except by the 
political elite, and violators are subject to severe punishment.  Radios 
and television sets are built to receive only domestic programming; 
radios obtained from abroad must be submitted for alteration to operate 
in a similar manner.  North Korea's private telephone lines operate on 
an internal system which prevents making or receiving calls from outside 
the country.  Some foreign relatives of well-connected individuals are 
reportedly able to contact them through official telephone lines. 
 
The Government severely restricts academic freedom.  The Government 
controls artistic and academic works, and visitors report that the 
primary function of plays, movies, operas, children's performances, and 
books is to contribute to the cult of personality surrounding Kim Il 
Sung and Kim Jong Il. 
 
   b.   Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association 
 
Although the Constitution provides for freedom of assembly and 
association, the Government does not respect these provisions in 
practice.  The Government prohibits any public meetings without 
authorization.  There are no known organizations other than those 
created by the Government.  Professional associations exist solely to 
reinforce government monitoring and control over the members of these 
organizations. 
 
   c.   Freedom of Religion 
 
The 1992 Constitution provides for the "freedom of religious belief" 
including, "the right to build buildings for religious use."  However, 
the same article adds that "no one can use religion as a means to drag 
in foreign powers" or to disrupt the social order.  In practice, the 
regime firmly discourages all organized religious activity except that 
which serves the interests of the State.   
 
As late as the 1980's, foreign visitors to North Korea were told that 
there were no churches in the country, and only a handful of Buddhist 
temples.  However, in recent years, the regime has facilitated the 
formation of several government-sponsored religious organizations.  
These serve as interlocutors with foreign church groups and 
international aid organizations.  Some foreigners who have met with 
representatives of these organizations are convinced that they are 
sincere believers; others claim that they appeared to know little about 
religious dogma, liturgy, or teaching.   
 
There are a few Buddhist temples where religious activity is permitted, 
and three Christian churches--two Protestant and one Catholic--have been 
opened since 1988 in Pyongyang.  These appear to be the only active 
Christian churches in the country.  Many visitors say that church 
activity appears staged.  Foreign Christians who have attempted to 
attend services at these churches without making prior arrangements with 
the authorities report finding them locked and unattended, even on 
Easter Sunday. 
 
The DPRK claims there are 10,000 Christians who worship in 500 house 
churches, and that the Chondogyo Young Friends Party, a government-
sponsored group based on a native Korean religious movement, is still in 
existence.  The authorities have told foreign visitors that one 
Protestant seminary exists, accepting six to nine pupils every 3 years. 
 
   d.   Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, 
Emigration, and Repatriation 
 
The regime strictly controls internal travel, requiring a travel pass 
for any movement outside one's home village; these passes are granted 
only for official travel or attendance at a relative's wedding or 
funeral.  Long delays in obtaining the necessary permit often result in 
denial of the right to travel even for these limited purposes.  As an 
additional means of control, travelers must produce special "travelers 
coupons" in order to buy food on trains or at restaurants or shops.  
Only members of a very small elite have vehicles for personal use.  The 
regime tightly controls access to civilian aircraft, trains, buses, 
food, and fuel.   
 
Reports, primarily from defectors, indicate that the Government 
routinely uses forced resettlement, particularly for those deemed 
politically unreliable.  The Government strictly controls permission to 
reside in, or even enter, Pyongyang.  This is a significant lever as 
food, housing, health, and general living conditions are reportedly much 
better in Pyongyang than in the rest of the country.  Diplomatic and 
press reports concur that the DPRK began an intensive effort in 1995 to 
reduce significantly the population of Pyongyang due to concerns about 
overcrowding.  Hundreds of thousands of people were reportedly required 
to relocate out of the city. 
 
The regime limits foreign travel to officials and trusted artists, 
athletes, academics, and representatives of religions.  It does not 
allow emigration, although there have been a limited number of 
defections.  Recently, the number of defectors has increased.  The 
regime reportedly retaliates harshly against the relatives of those few 
persons who manage to escape.  According to the Penal Code, defection 
and attempted defection (including the attempt to gain entry to a 
foreign embassy for the purpose of seeking political asylum) are capital 
crimes.  Defectors and other sources report that involuntarily 
repatriated defectors are routinely executed.  As a rule, the regime 
does not allow students to study abroad except in China and a few other 
friendly countries. 
 
From 1959 to 1982, 93,000 Korean residents of Japan, including 6,637 
Japanese wives, voluntarily repatriated to North Korea.  Despite regime 
assurances that the wives, 1,828 of whom still had Japanese citizenship, 
would be allowed to go home to Japan every 2 or 3 years, none is known 
to have done so.  Most have not been heard of since, and their relatives 
and friends in Japan have been unsuccessful in their efforts to gain 
information about their condition and whereabouts. 
 
Although over the past decade the DPRK has permitted an increasing 
number of overseas Korean residents of North America, Japan, China, and 
other countries to visit their relatives in North Korea, most requests 
for such visits are still denied.  Many foreign visitors to the April 
International Pyongyang Sports Festival reported that they were denied 
permission to visit or otherwise contact their relatives, even those who 
lived only a few miles from Pyongyang.  The DPRK does not participate in 
United Nations or other international refugee forums, and it is not in 
contact with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. 
 
Section 3   Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens to 
Change Their Government 
 
Citizens have no right or practical means to change their government.  
The political system is completely dominated by the KWP, with Kim Il 
Sung's heir Kim Jong Il apparently in control.  There is very little 
hard information available on intraregime politics following Kim Il 
Sung's death.  The legislature, the Supreme People's Assembly, which 
meets only a few days a year, serves only to rubber-stamp resolutions 
presented to it by the party leadership.   
 
In an effort to create the appearance of democracy, the DPRK has created 
several "minority parties."  Lacking grassroots organization, they exist 
only as rosters of officials with token representation in the Supreme 
People's Assembly.  Their primary purpose appears to be that of 
promoting government objectives abroad as touring parliamentarians.  
Free elections do not exist in North Korea, and Kim Jong Il has derided 
the concept of free elections and competition among political parties as 
an artifact of capitalist decay.   
 
Elections to the Supreme People's Assembly and to provincial, city, and 
county assemblies are held irregularly.  In all cases there is only one 
government-approved candidate in each electoral district.  According to 
the media, over 99 percent of the voters turn out to elect 100 percent 
of the candidates approved by the KWP.  The vast majority of the KWP's 
estimated 3 million members (in a population of 22 million) work to 
implement decrees formulated by the party's small elite. 
 
Few women have reached high levels of the party or the Government. 
 
Section 4   Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights 
 
The Government does not permit any independent domestic organizations to 
monitor human rights conditions or to comment on violations of such 
rights.  A North Korean Human Rights Committee established in 1992 
denies the existence of any human rights violations in North Korea and 
is merely a propaganda arm of the regime.  However, by offering 
international human rights organizations an identifiable official 
interlocutor, the new body facilitates their ability to enter into two-
way communication with the regime.   
 
AI representatives visited the DPRK in 1991 and 1995 and met officials 
from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Public Security, as well as 
judges, lawyers, and legal scholars.  The Government has ignored 
requests for visits to the DPRK by other international human rights 
organizations. 
 
Section 5   Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, 
Language, or Social Status 
 
The Constitution provides for equal rights for all citizens.  However, 
the Government denies its citizens most fundamental human rights. 
 
   Women 
 
There is no information available on violence against women. 
 
The Constitution states that "women hold equal social status and rights 
with men."  Women are represented proportionally in the labor force, 
with the exception of small factories in which the work force is 
predominantly female.  Like men, working age women do not have the 
option not to work.  They are thus required to leave their preschool 
children in the care of elderly relatives or in state nurseries.  
However, according to the Constitution, women with large families are 
guaranteed shortened working hours. 
 
   Children 
 
Social norms reflect traditional, family centered values in which 
children are cherished.  The State provides education for all children.  
There is no available evidence of a pattern of societal abuse of 
children.  However, some children are denied educational opportunities 
and subjected to other punishments and disadvantages as a result of the 
loyalty classification system and the principle of "collective 
retribution" for the transgressions of their parents. 
 
Like others in North Korean society, children are the object of intense 
political indoctrination; even mathematics textbooks propound the party 
line.  In addition, foreign visitors to North Korea and academic sources 
report that children are subjected to several hours a week of mandatory 
military training and indoctrination at their schools from an early age.  
School children are sometimes sent to work temporarily in factories or 
in the fields to assist in completing special projects or in meeting 
production goals. 
 
   People with Disabilities 
 
Traditional social norms condone discrimination against the physically 
disabled.  Disabled persons are almost never seen within the city limits 
of Pyongyang, and several defectors and other former North Korea 
residents report that disabled persons are routinely assigned to the 
rural areas.  There are no legally mandated provisions for accessibility 
to buildings or government services for the disabled. 
 
Section 6   Worker Rights 
 
   a.   The Right of Association 
 
Nongovernmental labor unions do not exist.  The Korean Workers' Party 
purports to represent the interests of all labor.  There is a single 
labor organization, called the General Federation of Trade Unions of 
Korea, which is affiliated with the formerly Soviet-controlled World 
Federation of Trade Unions.  Operating under this umbrella, unions 
function on the classic Stalinist model, with responsibility for 
mobilizing workers behind production goals and for providing health, 
education, cultural, and welfare facilities.  They do not have the right 
to strike.  North Korea is not a member of, but has observer status 
with, the International Labor Organization. 
 
   b.   The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively 
 
Workers have no right to organize or to bargain collectively.  Wages are 
set by government ministries.  The State assigns all jobs.  Ideological 
purity is as important as professional competence in deciding who 
receives a particular job, and foreign companies that establish joint 
ventures in North Korea report that all their employees must be hired 
from lists submitted by the KWP.  Factory and farm workers are organized 
into councils, which do have an impact upon management decisions. 
 
   c.   Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor 
 
There is no prohibition on the use of forced or compulsory labor, and 
the Government routinely uses military conscripts for construction 
projects.  Reformatory labor and reeducation through labor are common 
punishments for political offenses.  AI reports that forced labor, such 
as logging and tending crops, is common among prisoners. 
 
   d.   Minimum Age for Employment of Children 
 
According to the Constitution, the State prohibits work by children 
under the age of 16 years.  As education is universal and mandatory 
until age 15, it is believed that this regulation is enforced.   
 
   e.   Acceptable Conditions of Work 
 
The Constitution states that all working-age citizens must participate 
in work, and "strictly observe labor discipline and working hours."  The 
Penal Code states that anyone who hampers the nation's industry, 
commerce, or transportation through purposefully failing to carry out a 
specific assignment "while pretending to be functioning normally" is 
subject to the death penalty; it also states that anyone who "shoddily 
carries out" an assigned duty is subject to no less than 5 years' 
imprisonment.   
 
Even persistent tardiness may be defined as "anti-Socialist wrecking" 
under these articles.  A DPRK official praised the North Korean labor 
force to an audience of foreign business executives by noting that 
"there are no riots, no strikes, and no differences of opinion" with 
management. 
 
The Financial Times reported in September that the minimum wage for 
workers in foreign joint ventures is $80 a month (about 168 North Korean 
won); no data are currently available on the minimum wage in state-owned 
industries.  Wages and rations appear to be adequate to support workers 
and their families at a basic subsistence level.  Wages are not the 
primary form of compensation since the State provides all educational 
and medical needs free of charge, while most goods are distributed 
according to a rationing system, and only token rent is charged. 
 
In 1994 new labor regulations for foreign-funded enterprises were 
reportedly adopted by the Administration Council.  Referring to labor 
contracts, they set out provisions on the employment and dismissal of 
workers, technical training, work hours, rest periods, remuneration, 
labor protection, social security, fines for violations of regulations, 
and settlement of disputes. 
 
The Constitution stipulates an 8-hour workday, but several sources 
report that most laborers work 12 to 16 hours daily.  Some of this 
additional time may represent mandatory study of the writings of Kim Il 
Sung and Kim Jong Il.  The Constitution provides all citizens with a 
"right to rest," including paid leave, holidays, and access to 
sanitariums and rest homes funded at public expense.  The actual 
availability of these protections in practice is unknown. 
 
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[end of document]

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