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The communist government of North Korea is perpetrating atrocities against its own people to a degree comparable to those committed in the Nazi era in Germany, while the U.S. media is all but ignoring reports of the crimes, according to an eyewitness who recently returned from Asia.
Dr. Norbert Vollertsen, a German physician who volunteered to work in North Korea, gave his account of starvation and deprivation among the general population and contrasted the pervasive misery with the affluent and sheltered North Korean political elite. Aid meant for the desperately poor and starving, according to Vollertsen, is paying for the luxuries of the nation’s leaders.
Vollertsen recounted what he saw and endured during an address to the Defense Forum Foundation yesterday, which was carried live on C-SPAN. The DFF offers information on defense, national security, foreign policy and human-rights issues.
The doctor’s remarks confirm earlier reports of famine in North Korea.
“I’m a friend of the North Korean people … I must act,” Vollertsen stated.
Comparing his nation’s Nazi past with the current situation in North Korea, Vollertsen said, “I am a German,” and that he learned from those who “55 years ago … did not care.”
Having spent 18 months in North Korea, Vollertsen hopes to persuade Western media and governments into pressuring that nation’s leaders into allowing international organizations, such as the Red Cross, to monitor the distribution of aid and instances of human-rights abuses.
While serving as a volunteer emergency room physician in North Korea, Vollertsen unexpectedly gained a unique opportunity to observe both the desperate plight of most North Koreans, as well as the privileged lives of high government officials.
The North Korean government awarded Vollertsen their nation’s Friendship Medal after he offered a portion of his own skin during a skin grafting procedure at a poorly equipped North Korean hospital.
One of the benefits of the award was the privilege of nearly unrestricted travel throughout one of the most secretive nations on earth.
During his travels across the country, Vollertsen noted how the nation’s hospitals attempted to care for patients without the most rudimentary equipment or supplies: no electricity, running water, heat, disinfectant, anesthesia or even bandages and soap.
In addition to nearly non-existent medical facilities, Vollertsen remarked on what he referred to as a general state of mental depression afflicting those he encountered, “without emotion … full of fear … like in a concentration camp.”
During one of his journeys, Vollertsen found a North Korean soldier lying in the roadway — dead. A colleague of Vollertsen who was accompanying him on the trip examined the body and — having lived under the communist regime of East Germany — was alert to signs of torture. The dead soldier did display evidence of torture, including cigarette burns on his back, both old and new.
From the time of his arrival in December 1999, Vollertsen noted the great quantity of sophisticated amenities, from French perfume to German luxury cars, available to the North Korean elite — the same elite that controls the distribution of aid to the nation.
Following his continual protests of the deplorable conditions suffered by the average North Korean and his questions about how international aid contributed to the country was distributed, the North Korean government expelled Vollertsen in December 2000.
Since then, Vollertsen has sought to make the world aware of what he recounts as a gross mishandling of international aid.
His attempts have been blunted, however, by a general disinterest, including from the establishment media.
In March 2001, Reed Irvine, chairman of Accuracy in Media, noted that although “North Korea has not succeeded in silencing him,” with few exceptions, “our media … have shown little interest in what he has to say.”
When contacted by WorldNetDaily, Irvine stated that the media’s response to Vollertsen had not changed and that he was “very disappointed” that Vollertsen’s story was not of interest to most media outlets.