Study: North Korea political caste system behind abuses

June 6, 2012 07:46

WASHINGTON - A caste system under which North Korea ranks its citizens based on their family's political background and punishes those deemed disloyal to the leadership underpins the country's human rights abuses, according to a study published on Wednesday.

The "Songbun" system, which classifies North Koreans as "loyal," "wavering," or "hostile," has largely escaped notice, even as UN agencies and rights groups have documented abuses, including vast camps of political prisoners, public executions, and extreme information controls, the report from a US-based advocacy group argues.

"Every North Korean citizen is assigned a heredity-based class and socio-political rank over which the individual exercises no control but which determines all aspects of his or her life," the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea said.

The three classes are further divided into 51 categories by family background or occupation, which determine the precise mix of privileges, punishments or surveillance, the report said.

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