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Former North Korea bodyguard accuses Kim Jong Un of rights abuses

Defector Lee Young-guk said the North Korean leader should be referred to the International Criminal Court.
By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |   Feb. 23, 2016 at 9:57 PM
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GENEVA, Switzerland, Feb. 23 (UPI) -- A former bodyguard to the late Kim Jong Il said the current North Korean leader leads a life of luxury while ordinary North Koreans die of hunger.

After speaking at the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy, defector Lee Young-guk told Voice of America Tuesday Kim Jong Un should be referred to the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

According to Lee, Kim has built 14 luxury villas for his enjoyment and makes seasonal visits to each retreat to go hunting or swimming.

The defector said that as the leader of North Korea Kim should be taking care of his people, but is instead pursuing his own interests.

Lee added Kim should take responsibility for the countless North Koreans languishing in political prison camps, where they are dying from hunger, malnutrition and beatings.

Information control in North Korea is tight, and the Pyongyang regime "closes the eyes and ears" of the people – preventing most, even senior officials, from ever knowing anything about Kim's lavish lifestyle and the abject conditions in the prison camps.

Lee said Kim needs to be referred to the ICC, if it means North Koreans can now know the truth about the leadership.

The defector worked as the late Kim Jong Il's bodyguard between 1978 and 1988. He was imprisoned at Yodok concentration camp for five years after his arrest in 1994, when he attempted to flee the country.

Lee left North Korea permanently in 1999 and gained entry to South Korea in 2000. He currently works as an activist at a North Korea human rights organization.

Lee's criticism of Kim Jong Un comes at a time when the North Korean leader is shaking up the bureaucracy and making significant changes in the country's system of governance, Yonhap reported.

A recently published South Korean research paper that analyzes political trends in North Korea stated Kim Jong Un is moving away from his father's "military-first" policies in favor or returning more power to the Korean Workers' Party and bolstering economic development.

Kim Jong Il's policy of prioritizing the military's needs was costly for North Korea and added to the famine that killed millions in the 1990s, according to U.N. estimates.

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