poverty

10 SHOCKING Facts You Never Knew About North Korea

Escaping from North Korea in search of freedom | Yeonmi Park | One Young World
Published on Oct 18, 2014

Speech from Yeonmi Park telling her story of life in North Korea and calls for action against such human rights violators.

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Yeonmi was speaking at the One Young World Summit 2014 in Dublin, Ireland. The Summit brought together 1,300 young leaders with 194 countries represented to debate and devise solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems.

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North Korea, otherwise known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is a unique nation for all the wrong reasons. It is easily the most backward, isolated country on the planet.

Because of this isolation, information about the nature of the country, and the regime in power, is scarce and often not widely known.

But North Korea is a small, belligerent nation with the capability to cause real harm to the country’s around it, even the United States. These are 10 things you should know about the rogue state of North Korea.

1. Without oil, they’ve turned to wood-powered cars.

One of the ways in which North Korea is unique is that it gives us a look at what a future without oil might look like under the worst possible scenario.

The reclusive nation, whose only trading partner is China, functions almost entirely without gasoline and petroleum products, which has forced them to improvise.

Vehicles have been retrofitted to run on what they refer to as “wood gas,” carbon monoxide and hydrogen gas that’s produced from wood or coal.

Of course, using wood as fuel for cars is an ecological disaster that ruins air quality in cities and dumps immense amounts of carbon pollution into the atmosphere.

Wood gas engines were invented in 1839 and were used through WWII, when near the end of the war, Germany turned to powering more than 500,000 vehicles with the gas.

 

2. The country’s widespread poverty is even visible from space.

North Korea’s economy is strictly centrally planned. Some reforms have occurred since 2015 but for the most part, it is still an incredibly rigid, command economy.

There is very little data about the country’s economy, but it’s likely that North Korea has the weakest economy on Earth.

The average GDP per capita in North Korea is $1,800, making it 197th in the world. The GDP is 18 times higher in South Korea and 28 times higher in the United States.

Half of the nation’s 24 million citizens live in extreme poverty, according to the KUNI report, and a third of children have stunted growth due to malnutrition.

North Korea’s life expectancy is only 69 years old and has been in decline since 1980. Most homes are heated with fire places where citizens burn whatever they can find for heat to survive the bitingly cold North Korean winters.

Electricity is unreliable, as should be obvious from the image above. Most homes receive just a few hours of electricity a day, if any at all.

 

3. North Korea has no laws regarding Marijuana.

I hesitate to say that marijuana is legal in North Korea, but it’s also not criminalized in any way.

Cannabis appears to be sold pretty freely in the nation with one 29-year-old freelance writer from England recounting a story of how he purchased an entire bag of weed from an indoor market in a rural town in North Korea and smoked it in restaurants, bars, and in parks.

According to an anonymous source, Kim Jong Un’s regime doesn’t see marijuana as a drug and therefore doesn’t see any reason to interfere with it.

It’s possible, though unconfirmed, that marijuana consumption is encouraged as an alternative to tobacco, a luxury most North Koreans cannot afford.

 

4. North Korea operates concentration camps.

People are well aware of the concentration camps from World War II, where Germany imprisoned and murdered millions of “undesirable” people, and even the United States used to intern Japanese-American citizens during the war in the Pacific. While many of us may think that concentration camps are a horrid relic of an age passed, they’re alive and well in North Korea.

It is believed that up to 200,000 North Koreans reside in prison camps, arrested because of supposed political crimes. If one person commits a political crime, their entire family is interned.

If they escape, often their entire families are killed. 40% of the prisoners interned at these concentration camps die of malnutrition. Many are sentenced to “hard labor” for a seemingly reasonable length of time but are then promptly worked to death.

5. Children must attend school, but at a cost.

Children in North Korea are mandated to attend school, similar to in the United States. But unlike in the U.S., North Korea’s school children are required to bring their own desks and chairs and are required to give up money to pay for heat. Some parents keep their kids out of school by bribing teachers to not report them.

 

6. It’s the year 105 in North Korea.

In North Korea, their calendars are not based on what the rest of the world uses. Instead of it being 2017, it is the year 105 inside their borders. Why? Their calendar is based on the date of their dear revolutionary leader Kim Il-Sung’s birth: April 15, 1912.

 

7. North Korea holds elections.

While North Korea does hold elections, they aren’t exactly free elections. Each election gives you once choice, and I’ll give you 1 chance to guess who the choice is. When the votes are tallied, 100% of the votes cast are cast for their dear leader.

 

8. North Korea will punish you for three generations.

If you are born in North Korea and your grandfather committed a crime, you’re on the hook for that crime too. When someone commits a crime, their whole family is held responsible for it.

Grandparents, parents, and children can wind up in prison work camps because of the infractions of one individual. They call this their “3 generations of punishment rule.”

9. Kim Il-Sung is their only true leader.

While Kim Il-Sung, their first leader since the communist revolution, is long dead, he is still considered the leader of the country.

It’s why his son, and now grandson, were able to so easily take the reins of leadership when the former dies. While the heirs have the reins, Kim Il-Sung will forever have the heart of the DPRK.

10. The newest leader, Kim Jong Un, is an eccentric, brutal dictator.

When he assumed power after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il, it was hoped that Kim, much younger than previous leaders as well as educated in Europe, would bring about reforms. This has not proven to be case. Kim is just as bent on preserving his power as his father and grandfather were.

The list of eccentricities is long. Among them, he’s the only “general” in the world with no military experience, he got plastic surgery to look more like his grandfather, he has issued the execution of people via mortar rounds, is obsessed with Michael Jordan, had his uncle “obliterated” for supposed crimes against the state, and even executed his ex-girlfriend.

For North Korea, it’s hard to see a way out of the vile, kleptocratic dictatorship they’re forced to live under. Kim Jong Un is leader for life, and there’s no sign that he will instigate reforms. For the millions of starving, impoverished people in the DPRK, we can only pray.

 

Article from: http://www.higherperspectives.com/shocking-facts-north-korea-2312425603.html?c=vidlink

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Safe Passage for Syrian Refugees

Safe Passage: An Open Letter to U.S. President Barack Obama & Congressional Leaders
October 01, 2015

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The lifejacket pictured here belonged to one of more than 16,000 people rescued on the Mediterranean Sea by Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams since May. This lifejacket, and the person who wore it, are symbols not only of a chaotic and dangerous world, but also of the failure of United Nations member states to meet their obligations to care for, extend safe passage to, and consider the asylum claims of those who fear for their safety from violence and oppression.

People don’t abandon their homes because they want to, and they know the risks they will face on their journeys. It is out of desperation that they flee war and torture, misery, poverty, and persecution. While delivering emergency medical care across a wide range of countries and continents, Doctors Without Borders sees firsthand the horrific conditions and suffering that drive people to risk their lives for the chance of a better and safer future. In northern Jordan, for example, which only a lucky few of the Syrians wounded daily in besieged areas in and around Damascus (and elsewhere) can reach to access medical care; in northern Afghanistan, where hundreds of people injured in current fighting are pouring into our trauma center in Kunduz; in the Domeez refugee camp in northern Iraq, where food vouchers were recently cut by two-thirds; and in Kenya, where Somali refugees face the threat of violence and forcible return.

We have also established projects providing health care to refugees in several European Union countries, and we have been running search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean. Our staff therefore has a unique perspective of what happens—physically, psychologically, morally—to people in need when safer countries slam their doors shut, while public policy and debate focus on economic fears, deterrence, and dehumanizing discourse about “the other.”

This crisis has rightly shocked the world. But the harrowing scenes we have all seen are not confined to Europe and the Middle East. More than 60 million people have been uprooted by conflict and chaos around the world today. From stateless Rohingyas fleeing persecution in Myanmar and adrift on the Andaman Sea, to families driven from their homes by wars in South Sudan and Central African Republic, to people escaping violence and extortion in Central America—we are witnessing a global crisis that is fundamentally challenging the willingness of the international community to uphold its moral responsibilities to other human beings.

The United States has a proud tradition of welcoming refugees, and it has apportioned billions of dollars in aid and assistance to lands around the world affected by armed conflicts. But the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, has urged the US and other attendees of the UN General Assembly in New York to do more, to play a greater, more active, and more compassionate role in the ongoing refugee and migrant crises in Europe, Africa, Asia, and North and Central America. What better backdrop than the world’s largest gathering of international leaders for the United States to once more offer additional humanitarian support for people struggling to find safety, increase the number of asylum claims it approves (including for civilians wounded or tortured in conflict), and further ease cumbersome refugee application processes so the most vulnerable can easily apply?

President Obama: You took steps in this direction when you addressed the UN General Assembly this past Monday. But announcing an intent to accept a certain number of refugees falls far short of truly addressing the suffering faced by millions fleeing violence and oppression.

More than simply living up to obligations as a signatory to the 1967 protocol on refugees—and its own proud history of providing shelter to millions of foreign-born men, women, and children—the United States should take additional actions to ensure hope, dignity, and humanitarian assistance for those uprooted by war and strife. A courageous, committed United States can once again rise to the occasion by making its voice heard, showing resolve, and joining the European states that have opened their borders to large numbers of people in need of refuge.

By taking action and showing solidarity, the United States can reaffirm its commitment to refugees the world over and can set an example to other governments that have been unable to come to terms with the challenge at hand. This could be a step towards dismantling recently erected barriers to safe passage, which only drive those forced from their homes to take ever more dangerous routes in search of sanctuary.

The United States should encourage UN member states to ensure that lifesaving and basic needs are met and that humanitarian appeals are fully funded, reversing the shortfalls and cutbacks that have sadly become the norm in humanitarian crises. Beyond this week’s meeting in New York, we hope America’s political leaders will commit themselves to once again placing the country at the heart of efforts to find solutions to this global crisis, as it was when past generations of immigrants and refugees found shelter and opportunity in this land. The United States can make an essential difference by ensuring safe passage for people driven from their homes and by working to make the need for their harrowing journeys obsolete.

Doctors Without Borders has also encouraged European leaders to do more, and we readily admit that we do not have all the answers. But we see the medical and psychological consequences of the current situation, and we must bear witness to the tragic human impact of a global system that shuts out people seeking to escape violence, poverty, and misery—people who, like many Americans, past, present, and future, seek only a safe place for themselves and their families.
—Jason Cone, Executive Director, MSF-USA

Article from: http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/article/safe-passage-open-letter-us-president-barack-obama-congressional-leaders?utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&utm_campaign=social

The World’s Enormous Silence about the Slaughter of Christians

* ISIS forcefully circumcised Yazidi men & women in Mosul without anesthesia.
* They tied the hands of one woman to the back of a car and her legs to another car and they split her into two.
* They put women and children under the ground. They were alive.
* ISIS terrorists cut a five-year-old boy in two.
* ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi gave his followers permission to eat babies.
* ISIS is systematically beheading Christian children in Mosul.
* They butchered people like cattle.
* Islamic extremists regard them as infidels, worthy only of being killed.
* ISIS’ Beheadings, Crucifixion, Stonings
* ISIS want to impregnate Yazidi women and smash their blond bloodline.
* Hundreds of women have been kidnapped as war booties and reduced to slaves.
* The Christians pay the fine, the fighters take the Christian wives and children and make them their wives – so it’s really convert, or die.
* They are absolutely killing every Christian they see. Convert to Islam, pay a fine or be put to “death by the sword.”
* Yazidi Kurdish children are dying of thirst and hunger on Sinjar mountains. No more words for tragedy.
* Ethnic cleansing: They are killing our people in the name of Allah and telling people that anyone who kills a Christian will go straight to heaven.
* They are occupying our churches and converting them into mosques.
* They have burned churches, very old book, crosses and statues of the Virgin Mary.

Savage rapes, people butchered like cattle: The Horror of ISIS

Read more articles here:
http://www.americamagazine.org/issue/challenging-world-silence-isis-atrocities

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/08/isis-persecution-iraqi-christians-genocide-asylum

North Korea’s leaders do not value human life or happiness

Pyongyang’s Hunger Games: North Korea’s use of foreign aid to maintain its hunger policies and regime-survival and control.

INTERNATIONAL AID. “We stand before a huge ethical dilemma: Is it possible – and, if so, to what extent – to help starving North Koreans, whose fates depend on us a great deal more than on their government, if at the same time we are forever deceived and systematically blackmailed? An army armed with weapons of mass destruction is, to be sure, a permanent threat to the whole region.

Total humanitarian assistance to North Korea from 1996 to 2005 peaked in 2001 and totaled over $2.43 billion, not including informal aid and aid from China. From 1995 to 2003, formal assistance to North Korea from the U.S. alone reached over $1 billion.

North Korea Starvation

Read more: http://www.northkoreanow.org/hunger-politics/