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North Korea’s Amnesty Does Not Mean Amity

On January 10, the North Korean government released a statement that they have planned an amnesty of convicts in prisoner camps across the country starting on February 1.  The release of prisoners is occurring as a way to commemorate the birthdays of Kim Jong-il and Kim II-sung who ruled North Korea for 60 years. The population of about 23 million people doubts that Kim Jong Un will make any drastic changes, therefore the amnesty is another attempt to gain popularity for the new ruler and appease the public.

It is predicted that in the camps there are 200,000 political prisoners, but the government has not said how many they plan to release or what crimes will be pardoned.  North Korea usually releases prisoners every five years to celebrate important occasions.  The last time prisoners were released was in August 2005 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Koreas freedom from Japan’s colonial rule.

Although there will be a number of prisoners released, United States investigators claim that the ratio of free people to prisoners will remain the same. This is the case because often times following an amnesty, many people are imprisoned; therefore, the percentage of prisoners will be maintained. Recently, Washington met in Pyongyang to discuss ways to prevent food shortages and to start nuclear disarmament.  If the third generation of Kim dynasty continues to rule, change may not be possible with Kim Jong Un trying to fill his father’s very big shoes.

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