We follow Kim Jong Un because we’re scared

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Despite the televised images of mass public adulation of Kim Jong Un, a defector has told Sky News that support for the leader is significantly weaker than portrayed by the regime, with displays of loyalty coerced through fear.

The man asked us to hide his identity because his daughter is still inside North Korea, and would be in danger if he is recognised, but he wanted people to know the truth about life under the Kim regime.

He said living conditions had become harder, and privately many people were critical of his leadership, but nobody dared express those views in public.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits a school in Pyongyang. File pic We follow Kim Jong Un because we're scared We follow Kim Jong Un because we’re scared b59bd937975c34f98fc1ce6930b5abd376ddc0aa7bd5f70d944a51f3018fede1 4005358
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‘In North Korean society you can do everything but criticise the Kim family’ says defector

“If you criticise Kim Jong Un you will go to a prison camp and not come back,” he said.

“In North Korean society you can do everything but criticise the Kim family.

“If you are caught, even if you have money, you won’t be able to survive.

“It’s a frightening system.”

“(In the camps) you are forced to labour and you live a life no better than a dog or a pig.

“It is better to die.”

Supporters of Kim Jong Un take part in a military parade marking the 105th birth anniversary of the country's founding father We follow Kim Jong Un because we're scared We follow Kim Jong Un because we’re scared a49ff23fa62532224dce085f3f4dc680fd9551730561b93c1e5444d269003c73 3933278
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The defector says most North Koreans pretend to be loyal to Kim Jong Un

We showed him some of the latest news footage from Pyongyang, featuring thousands of people apparently rallying in support of the leader in the city centre.

“These civilians, if the government tells them to come, they are gathered by the system, they’re forced to come, they don’t have the freedom not to,” he explained.

“I feel sorry for these people, they will all be cannon fodder.

“All this is for Kim Jong Un, this is all for the Kim family.

“People are scared.

“On the surface they look thankful, but none of it is genuine.”

Last week, Mr Kim greeted thousands at a parade marking the 105th anniversary of the birth of late North Korean leader Kim Il-Sung We follow Kim Jong Un because we're scared We follow Kim Jong Un because we’re scared cf9b070c3a40dbeb3c0f1a8ac42f6ccbae86db4f444a60c67977f3c86cc2e09d 3937387
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On the surface they look thankful, but none of it is genuine, says the defector

He told us access to information about the outside world was increasing inside North Korea, but so was the regime’s control.

“Everyone is aware that there is no other place in the world as poor as North Korea, and that no other country suffers as much as our people do.

“We don’t follow the system because we like it, we are only following because we are scared of it.

“Never because we like it.

“Even the military people, corporals or captains, I’ve been to their houses, they are in a poor state.

“Most people don’t have loyalty, honestly.

“You can’t trust what’s on TV, it’s all forced.”

Interviewees said sports stadiums were used to stage public executions We follow Kim Jong Un because we're scared We follow Kim Jong Un because we’re scared 313920c8573e9d74cd5bc58ce0b9fa320e65e5adc443cfcd811df8696531ce3d 4005365
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Schools and sports stadiums are used to stage public executions

An NGO researching atrocities under the Kim regime has revealed how public executions are intended to instil fear of the government and to be witnessed by as many people as possible.

The Transitional Justice Working Group’s executive director Hubert Youngwhan Lee told Sky News: “The most commonly used locations are river banks, under bridges, markets, or even on school grounds, or public stadiums.

“There are certain types of locations that are frequently used for the public killings.”

Asked to clarify whether school grounds were being used for public executions, he replied: “Yes, school grounds, because North Korea uses this as a tool for instilling public fear of being punished by their government.”


Donald Trump responds on Twitter: "Does this guy have anything better to do with his life?" We follow Kim Jong Un because we're scared We follow Kim Jong Un because we’re scared 8b764056d04886a8d0bcb5bcbdd55d309a330276017b5d221c0d542293572e8c 3992505

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He said public killings continue to be carried out under Mr Kim’s leadership, with testimony as recently as 2015, three years into his rule.

His colleague, researcher Sehyek Oh, who is from North Korea, has carried out 375 interviews so far with fellow defectors, including former officials, as they gather evidence ultimately intended to be used in court, to bring those responsible to justice.

The Seoul-based group is using mapping software to document locations believed to be used for mass graves and public executions by the regime.

For all of the current focus on Kim’s nuclear ambitions and the danger he poses overseas, they hope his crimes against his own people will not be forgotten.

A United Nations Commission of Inquiry reported in 2014 that crimes against humanity, involving extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, and deliberate starvation, were being committed in North Korea, with abuse on a scale without parallel in the contemporary world.

Another UN agency warned earlier this year that the country was suffering its most serious drought in 16 years, raising fears of worsening food shortages this autumn.



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