Please don't forget: In North Korea, executions, torture, and starvation are part of daily life

North Korea.
(Image credit: ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images)

President Trump has had nothing but good things to say about North Korean leader Kim Jong Un after their summit in Singapore on Tuesday, although Trump's comments have earned backlash from human rights monitors, who note that North Korea is "one of the most repressive authoritarian states in the world." Here is a short list of the atrocities committed under Kim since he took power in 2011. Jeva Lange

  • The U.S. State Department estimates that between 80,000 and 120,000 political prisoners are held in prison camps "under horrific conditions" in North Korea today. "Hundreds of thousands of political prisoners" are believed to have died in such camps over the past half-century. [New York Daily News]
  • In 2014, the United Nations Commission of Inquiry identified "systematic, widespread, and gross human rights violations" in North Korea, including "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." [Human Rights Watch]
  • Kim is believed to have personally ordered the execution of more than 340 people since taking power in 2011, oftentimes over personal vendettas. Methods of execution include anti-aircraft guns, firing squads, burning alive with a flamethrower, and poison. Kim has executed members of his family, including his half-brother, who was assassinated with a nerve agent. Kim's deputy premier for education was killed for having "disrespectful posture" during a meeting, and a general was executed for falling asleep during a meeting. [USA Today]
  • North Korea condemned 21-year-old American college student Otto Warmbier to 15 years of hard labor after he allegedly attempted to steal a propaganda poster from his hotel. North Korean officials said Warmbier fell into a coma after contracting botulism; he died shortly after he was returned to the U.S. The one-year anniversary of his death is in seven days, on June 19. [WKRC]

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Jeva Lange

Jeva Lange was the executive editor at She formerly served as The Week's deputy editor and culture critic. She is also a contributor to Screen Slate, and her writing has appeared in The New York Daily News, The Awl, Vice, and Gothamist, among other publications. Jeva lives in New York City. Follow her on Twitter.