On that same note, it would also help to publicly acknowledge that the real obstacle to stopping the horrors in North Korea is, by now, not a lack of information, but a lack of will to act. It might have been true about a decade or more ago that the atrocities of the North Korean regime were among the world’s least understood and least reported. But for years now, at great risk, Christian missionaries have been helping North Koreans escape, and various private groups and foundations, often working with North Korean defectors, have been laboring to bring the abuses to light — in detail, and with documentation. There has been abundant testimony by both North Korean defectors and Western researchers and analysts to the U.S. Congress; detailed accounts and analyses of the government-induced famine in the 1990s that killed an estimated one to two million North Koreans; reports from the Washington-based Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, ranging from the 2003 report on The Hidden Gulag to the 2011 report on abductions (Taken), to the 2012 report on what is basically North Korea’s system of political apartheid (Marked for Life: Songbun). There are by now stacks of books, such as The Aquariums of Pyongyang (2005), or Escape from Camp 14 (2012) on the gulag. There is the heart-breaking 2008 movie, Crossing, which conveys in the story of one boy and his father an amalgam of the real agonies of North Koreans who cannot survive in their own country, and risk everything to flee.
More information is all to the good, especially if it might induce the UN Human Rights Council to forego its fetish of fulminating about free societies such as the U.S. and Israel, and instead focus on what Pillay has correctly, if belatedly, worked around to highlighting as the monstrous, systemic human rights violations of the North Korean regime. But if Pillay wishes to amass the equivalent of an in-depth inquiry, that need not take months or years of further toil — it can by now be found online, overnight. The big crunch is that the vaunted international community must find the will to do something about it.