The official statements coming out of North Korea’s incomparable, state-run Korean Central News Agency are often so over-the-top and use such florid turns of phrase that they sometimes seem like they’re straight out of The Onion.
In many cases, they would be laughable if they weren’t about such serious issues – like the totalitarian repression of 23 million people.
But even by North Korean standards, a pugnacious 4,046-word screed – headlined “Detailed Report on Secret behind Anti-DPRK ‘Human Rights Resolution’ Released” – published Friday is eyebrow-raising.
It is the latest response to international efforts to hold North Korea's leadership to account for decades of human rights abuses. A U.N. commission of inquiry earlier this year published an exhaustive 372-page report, based on interviews with numerous defectors, detailing a litany of alleged human rights abuses, including brainwashing, torture, deliberate starvation, executions and infanticide.
The report has become a catalyst for international action against Kim and his cronies. A U.N. General Assembly committee last week approved a resolution, co-sponsored by the European Union and Japan, recommending referral to the International Criminal Court. It’s set to head to the Security Council next, where North Korean allies China and Russia have veto power.
In its criticism of the U.N. resolution, this response from North Korea leaves almost no one who deals with the closed regime unmaligned. The United Nations is branded “a theatre of rampage,” its commission of inquiry into North Korean human rights abuses is “a plot-breeding,” and the commission’s head is “a servant of Obama”.
The European Union, co-sponsor of an effort to refer North Korea’s leadership to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, is “just a poodle of the U.S.”
But the subject of the most heated invective is, of course, Enemy Number One: the United States, a “hostile force” that North Korea said was trying “to bring down the socialist system centered on the popular masses under the pretext of human rights."
There are voices “calling for dealing merciless sledge-hammer blows” at those who malign Kim Jong Un, the third generation leader of the world’s only communist dynasty, and those voices are “growing stronger,” the statement continued.
KCNA cited a report from North Korea’s “Association for Human Rights Studies,” which, it said, was released “to lay bare the secret behind such political fraud” as the U.N. resolution against North Korea.
The main purpose of the report - which wasn't released - was to go through all the times that North Korea says it's cooperated with the world. The list rattles off visits from human rights groups and international agencies going back as far as 1991, as if to prove complete transparency. But the rare visitors allowed into the country complain of curtailed access, and defectors have described the efforts that the authorities go to to create Potemkin scenes for outside eyes.
But the very fact of the statement is the latest evidence that Pyongyang is genuinely alarmed – or totally freaking out, in the geo-political jargon – at the prospect of Kim in a dock in The Hague.
North Korea’s official mouthpiece tackled the prospect of international judgement head-on:
We do not want anyone's "recognition" as regards the human rights issue and, moreover, do not feel the need to read the face of others at all.
What our people like and what conforms with their requirements and interests is precisely our human rights standards.
The recent farce orchestrated at the UN is a shameless political chicanery to put down justice with injustice and conceal truth with lies and the height of brazenfaced burlesque to deceive the world people with intrigues and fabrications.
- KCNA report
Want more? Read the full diatribe here.
Reports like these are music to the ears of critics of the North Korean regime. Decades of sanctions have failed to make Pyongyang give up its nuclear program or stopped the Kim family from importing everything from jet skis to Cognac. Now, analysts say, the world has hit North Korea's raw nerve.