Eugenetics in the Hermit Kingdom of North Korea?
From the Times comes this harrowing story of racial purity and infanticide. This story requires corroboration but prima facie evidence is nonetheless impossible to ignore. Not for the faint of heart...
Michael Sheridan, Far East Correspondent
‘Racially impure’ children killed
THE North Korean regime’s obsession with racial purity has led to the killing of disabled infants and forced abortions for women suspected of conceiving their babies by Chinese fathers, according to a growing body of testimony from defectors.
The latest description of Kim Jong-il’s policy of state eugenics came from a North Korean doctor, Ri Kwang-chol, who escaped last year and told a forum in Seoul that babies with deformities were killed soon after birth.
“There are no people with physical defects in North Korea,” Ri said. Such babies were put to death by medical staff and buried quickly, he claimed. He denied ever committing the act himself.
Exiles in Seoul said Ri was now keeping a low profile, fearing retaliation by North Korean agents, who have assassinated foes in the South Korean capital before. But his account added to the evidence that the Kim family dictatorship is founded on mystical notions of Korean racial superiority rather than Marxism — a reality that explains its deepening estrangement from China.
Along the 850-mile border, North Korean women refugees have emerged with stories that speak of the regime’s preoccupation with “deviant” sexual relations and its predisposition to violence in dealing with them.
One such account came from a 30-year-old woman who calls herself Han Myong-suk. She escaped twice and reached a safe haven in an undisclosed third country within the past year thanks to Helping Hands Korea, an American Christian group.
She said she was sold by traffickers to a Chinese farmer near the Great Wall, and was five months pregnant by him when she was caught by the Chinese police and deported back to North Korea.
There she was held in one of three female detention centres, which have been identified in the towns of Sinuju, Onsong and Chongin. Her account was taken down by Tim Peters, an American Christian activist who founded the group.
“I defied the order to abort the foetus the prison authorities contemptuously called a ‘Chinese Chink’ and was badly beaten and kicked in my belly by a guard. His name was Hwang Myong-dong,” she said.
One week later, said Han, she was led to a prison clinic “where in a most blunt manner they extracted the dead child from my body”.
Han survived the depraved conditions of a labour camp for several years before her release and eventual second escape. Her story represented important corroboration of a practice that was first detailed in a report in 2003 for the pressure group
US Committee for Human Rights in North Korea that was compiled by David Hawk, a human rights investigator.
Hawk found “extreme phenomena of repression . . . unique to North Korea” and concluded that its regime practised “ethnic infanticide”. He traced eight female witnesses who gave distressing accounts of child murder. One took place at the women’s detention centre in Sinuju, a border zone visible across the Yalu River from the Chinese city of Dandong.
Choi Yong-hwa, 28, described how she was made to accompany a heavily pregnant woman, who had also been returned across the bridge from China, to a clinic where doctors induced labour. After the infant was born, Choi said she and other women stood by in disbelief as it was suffocated with a wet towel. The mother passed out.
A 66-year-old grandmother also testified to witnessing the deaths of babies at Sinuiju, two of them healthy boys born at full term. The first belonged to a 28-year-old woman called Lim. The witness was holding the newborn in a blanket when a guard grabbed him by a leg and threw him into a large box lined with plastic.
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