In February, the United Nations released a detailed and comprehensive report on North Korea's humans rights abuses and concluded that the atrocities being committed in the country were "without any parallel in the contemporary world."
But this is the Democratic People's Republic of Korea we're talking about here — a country that references good-government three times in its own name. Of course, North Korea wasn't at all pleased with the report and for several weeks, the state media has been attacking and launching diatribes against the UN and United States.
North Korea's threats and complaining fell mostly on deaf ears, so they decided to do something a bit more creative. On Wednesday, the Korean Central News Agency released its own human rights report on the West in an article titled "News Analysis on Poor Human Rights Records in US." The report listed a number of grievances it sees with America's track record on human rights.
What's so bad about America. A few key points include:
1. "Under the citizenship act, racialism is getting more severe in the U.S. The gaps between the minorities and the whites are very wide in the exercise of such rights to work and elect."
2. "The U.S. true colors as a kingdom of racial discrimination was fully revealed by last year's case that the Florida Court gave a verdict of not guilty to a white policeman who shot to death an innocent black boy."
3. "That's why 52 percent of the Americans have said that racism still exists in the country while 46 percent contended that all sorts of discrimination would be everlasting."
4. "The U.S. is a living hell as elementary rights to existence are ruthlessly violated."
5. "At present, an average of 300,000 people a week are registered as unemployed, but any proper measure has not been taken."
6. "The housing price soared 11.5 percent last year than 2012 and 13.2 percent in January this year than 2013, leaving many people homeless."
7. "The number of impoverished people increased to 46.5 millions last year, and one sixth of the citizens and 20-odd percent of the children are in the grip of famine in New York City."
8. "All sorts of crimes rampant in the U.S. pose a serious threat to the people's rights to existence and their inviolable rights."
9. "The U.S. government has monitored every movement of its citizens and foreigners, with many cameras and tapping devices and even drones involved, under the pretext of 'national security.'"
10. "Meanwhile, bills on easing arms control were adopted in various states of the country, boosting murderous crimes. As a result, the U.S. has witnessed an increasing number of gun-related crimes in all parts of the country and even its military bases this year. In this regard, the United Nations on April 10 put the U.S. on the top of the world list of homicide rates."
11. "The U.S. also has 2.2 millions of prisoners at present, the highest number in the world. For lack of prisons on the part of the government, individuals are providing detention facilities to make money."
12. "A Russian TV said that in the U.S. the wealthy classes are now keen on the investment in providing private prisons for their high profit and so more people will be imprisoned."
13. "Its chief executive, Obama, indulges himself in luxury almost every day, squandering hundred millions of dollars on his foreign trip in disregard of his people's wretched life."
The report concludes by calling the U.S. "the world's worst human right abuser and tundra of a human being's rights to existence."
Do they have a point? Several of the issues the report touches on are certainly real problems in America today, and for the most part, the report's numbers and stats check out (though, as the Washington Post points out, only the stats on gun crime are suspect).
But there's a couple problems. First, Americans, for the most part, know about these issues and are working to improve on these problems. Americans can openly complain about their country and government without fearing a trip to a work camp, so the option to change and improve America is a very real one (even if it's also a difficult one).
Second, and perhaps more importantly, these "abuses" don't even begin to compare to what the North Korean government does to its people. Again, scary language and selective story-telling are not enough to divert our attention to the U.S., away from the truly evil human rights violations taking place in North Korea every day. Just because Johnny's doing something wrong doesn't mean that Steve's actions are any less terrible, especially if, objectively, Steve's actions are just way, way worse than Johnny's. North Korea can stir up all the bluster it wants, but there's no changing the fact that it's a country guilty of the worst human rights violations in the world today.