Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
US Department of State
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea) is a dictatorship under the absolute rule of Kim Jong-il, general secretary of the Korean Workers' Party (KWP) and chairman of the National Defense Commission (NDC), the "highest office of state." The country has an estimated population of 23.5 million. Kim's father, the late Kim Il-sung, remains "eternal president." Local elections held in July 2007 were not free or fair. There was no civilian control of the security forces, and members of the security forces committed numerous serious human rights abuses.
The government's human rights record remained poor, and the regime continued to commit numerous serious abuses. The regime subjected citizens to rigid controls over many aspects of their lives. Citizens did not have the right to change their government. There continued to be reports of extrajudicial killings, disappearances, arbitrary detention, and political prisoners. Prison conditions were harsh and life threatening, and torture occurred. Pregnant female prisoners underwent forced abortions in some cases, and in other cases babies were killed upon birth in prisons.
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