A North Korean defector has detailed the depths of the country’s propaganda machine which tells children its supreme leader can read their minds.
Yeonmi Park grew up in the hermit kingdom where the concepts of ‘love’ and ‘friendship’ do not exist, at least according to its ultra strict education system.
Feelings of adoration are to be directed at the supreme leader alone.
Park’s parents never told her they loved her – a similar situation to many of her country-folk, who were used to seeing scores of people starved to death in the streets.
Park is one of several hundred North Korean defectors who have escaped to the United States, the New York Post reported.
She and her mother fled in 2007 when she was 13, crossing the frozen Yalu River into China.
There Park’s mother was raped by human traffickers and they were both sold to Chinese men – the younger woman for less than £225.
With the help of Christian missionaries, the woman fled to Mongolia then to South Korea, before Park moved to the US in 2014.
Now working as a human rights campaigner, the 26-year-old explained that North Korea is not like other dictatorships like Iran or Cuba.
“In those countries, you have some kind of understanding that they are abnormal, they are isolated and the people are not safe,” she told the New York Post.
“But North Korea has been so completely purged from the rest of the world, it’s literally a Hermit Kingdom.”
Park and her sister were taught that Kim Jong Il, the country’s former leader, and his son Kim Jong Un were gods.
Teachers explained to them that the Kims could read the minds of everyday citizens, prompting them to think well of the tyrants.
Pupils were also encouraged to find faults in their classmates and verbally attack them in ‘criticism sessions’.
Similar disturbing revelations are made in ‘Escape from Camp 14’, the story of Shin Dong-hyuk.
Known as the only person to be born into and then escape from one of the country’s concentration camps, Dong-hyuk was subject to unimaginable hardships growing up.
The camp’s secondary school was “little more than slave quarters from which he was sent out as a rock picker, weed puller and dam laborer.”
At one point, one of Dong-hyuk’s classmates was beaten to death by the teacher for hoarding a few kernels of corn.
Park told the Post of her struggles finding enough food to eat.
She grew up eating insects in a country where more than 10 million people are starving or face severe food shortages, according to the United Nations.
Both her uncle and grandmother died from malnutrition and it was a regular occurrence to see dead bodies in the street.
“I have visited slums in Mumbai, I have visited slums in other countries, but nothing is like North Korea because North Korean starvation, it’s a systematic starvation by a country that chose to starve us,” she said.
Park criticised the government’s decision to develop nuclear weapons when it could feed its people with the money.
The campaigner has called on the international community to condemn China’s sponsorship of the North Korean regime.
Park now lives in Chicago with her husband and young son.