North Koreans start their morning commute down a road intersection in Pyongyang on Tuesday. The fate of North Koreans suspected of opposing the ruling establishment is draconian. The few who have escaped tell of unspeakable acts of torture, of long hours of slave labour, of confinement to tiny cells and, finally, starvation and disease. Photo: AP

Otto Warmbier’s death brings to light the brutality of North Korean dynastic rule

Donald Kirk says with the outside world largely focused on Pyongyang’s nuclear development, within the hermit kingdom unspeakable acts of torture, enslavement and other crimes against humanity remain commonplace

Topic |   Kim Jong-un

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North Koreans start their morning commute down a road intersection in Pyongyang on Tuesday. The fate of North Koreans suspected of opposing the ruling establishment is draconian. The few who have escaped tell of unspeakable acts of torture, of long hours of slave labour, of confinement to tiny cells and, finally, starvation and disease. Photo: AP
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Donald Kirk

Donald Kirk

Donald Kirk is an author and journalist from Washington, D.C., and travels to South Korea, with stops in London, India, Pakistan, the Middle East, Japan, Hong Kong and the Philippines, among other places, writing on the confrontation of forces in the post-September 11 era. He was the Seoul correspondent for the International Herald Tribune from 1997 to 2003. Before gravitating to Northeast Asia, he covered much of the Vietnam War for the Chicago Tribune and the Washington Star. He has also written books on Korea, notably Korea Betrayed: Kim Dae Jung and Sunshine and Korean Dynasty: Hyundai and Chung Ju Yung.