North Korea is notorious for many reasons, one of them being the country’s dictator who – along with his corrupt subordinates – robs people of their basic rights and necessities such as freedom of speech, movement and food.
So, it was (obviously) shocking for many when it emerged that Kim Jong-un held a rare high-level meeting with top government officials to address rampant corruption in the country. It was, perhaps, the first time the North Korean government at least acknowledged abuse of power within its ranks.
"It criticized mainly the practices of seeking privileges, misuse of authority, abuse of power and bureaucratism manifested in the party," North Korea’s official KCNA news agency reported.
The Associated Press states “the congress, the first since more than 3,000 delegates gathered for the 6th Congress in 1980, will "be recorded as a new landmark in the history of the party."
It’s not as if officials are not punished in the reclusive state. Kim often executes members of the administration and armed forces but reasons are mostly personal than professional.
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Kim’s measure comes almost a month after Somalia, North Korea and Afghanistan were named the most corrupt countries in the world, according to the Corruption Perceptions Index 2015.
In fact, the hermit kingdom has held this rank for several years now. The problem is deep-rooted in the ruling political party’s decades-old policies and one meeting, while being a step in the right direction, won’t be enough - especially with Kim Jong-un in power.
“The fiction that Kim Jong-Un might be somehow more moderate because of his education in Switzerland has been thoroughly refuted by the continued brutality of the government he now leads,” Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, stated in 2014. “Human rights need to be front and center in all international dealings with North Korea, starting with demanding accountability for crimes against humanity.”
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