“Holocaust” is the word used to describe the systematic extermination of millions of innocent European Jews during World War II. In the aftermath of this mammoth failure of humanity, many nations “repented” and declared that “never again” would such inhumanity and absolute disregard for human dignity and life be tolerated.
Yet on Jan. 1, the regime of Kim Jong Il warned that a “nuclear holocaust” would be inevitable if South Korea engaged the North in war. While the world watches peoples in the Middle East and North Africa rise up against tyranny, another people suffers on the Korean Peninsula. And that Pyongyang so irreverently invoked this term to describe its so-called necessary defense is a stark reminder of the genocidal and inhumane nature of Kim Jong Il’s regime and the atrocities it has committed against millions of innocents.
Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority in Jerusalem, called on the international community in 2004 to investigate “political genocide” in North Korea. In response to reports of “North Korea’s use of gas chambers to murder and perform medical experiments on political dissidents and their families” and the “chilling image of the murderers coolly watching their victims’ death agonies . . . all too reminiscent of Nazi barbarism,” the group’s chairman, Avner Shalev, wrote to then-U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan that “the issue is all the more severe due to North Korea’s status as a member of the U.N.”
In other words, the world’s foremost authorities on genocide appealed to the international community, one of the few rays of hope for the North Korean people, who are trapped in a living hell.
An estimated 1 million innocent men, women and children have been murdered in North Korean political concentration camps since 1972, academics believe.
Virtually nothing has been done to speed the closure of these camps since 2004, though the testimony of tens of thousands of refugees provides mounting evidence of crimes against humanity and genocide.
Outside observers and nongovernmental organizations estimate that 3.5 million North Koreans died of starvation between 1995 and 1997. They continue to die in huge numbers in a government-organized famine akin to the Holodomor famine-genocide in Ukraine (1932-33), which was orchestrated by Joseph Stalin. Billions in humanitarian aid have been shipped to North Korea, more than enough to feed the nation’s population, but government and academic studies have revealed that North Korea systematically diverted the aid, using it to bolster its military might while millions, for whom the aid was intended, starved to death.
Raphael Lemkin’s Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide included political murders in its first draft definition of genocide, but Stalin objected, the definition was amended and the Soviet Union was not held accountable for the tens of millions of innocents murdered without just cause by starvation and in the Gulag. Some have incorrectly concluded that mass murder and genocide in North Korea would also be exempt from prosecution under the convention.