Under the rule of Kim Jong-Un, North Korea remains among the world’s most repressive countries. All basic freedoms have been severely restricted under the Kim family’s political dynasty. A 2014 UN Commission of Inquiry found that abuses in North Korea were without parallel in the contemporary world. They include extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions, and other sexual violence.
North Korea operates secretive prison camps where perceived opponents of the government are sent to face torture and abuse, starvation rations, and forced labour. Fear of collective punishment is used to silence dissent. There is no independent media, functioning civil society, or religious freedom.
Freedom of Expression
The North Korean constitution has clauses guaranteeing the freedoms of speech and assembly. In practice, other clauses take precedence, including the requirement that citizens follow a socialist way of life. Criticism of the government and its leaders is strictly curtailed and making such statements can be cause for arrest and consignment to one of North Korea's "re-education" camps. The government distributes all radio and television sets; citizens are forbidden to alter them to make it possible to receive broadcasts from other nations; doing so carries draconian penalties.
There are numerous civic organisations but all of them appear to be operated by the government. All routinely praise the government and perpetuate the personality cults of the deceased Kim Jong-il and his father Kim Il-sung. Defectors indicate that the promotion of the cult of personality is one of the primary functions of almost all films, plays and books produced within the country.
Freedom of Religion
North Korea is officially an atheist state and the North Korean Constitution provides for "freedom of religious belief". However, government policies continue to interfere with the individual's ability to choose and to manifest their religious belief. The government continues to repress the religious activities of unauthorised religious groups.
There were several cases of foreigners imprisoned for evangelism in North Korea. The most prominent was Kenneth Bae, who was detained in December 2012 and released on November 8, 2014. Kenneth Bae is a Korean-American Evangelical Christian missionary who was sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment by the North Korean government in April 2013. In another case the North Korean news agency explained that it is a criminal act to spread Bible tracts, as this hurts the people’s absolute trust in their leader.
Freedom of Movement
North Korean citizens usually cannot freely travel around the country, let alone travel abroad. Emigration and immigration are strictly controlled. Only the political elite may own or lease vehicles, and the government limits access to fuel and other forms of transport due to frequent shortages of gasoline/petrol, diesel fuel, crude oil, coal and other fossil fuels. Forced resettlement of citizens and whole families, especially as punishment for political reasons, is said to be routine.
As of 2015, North Korea is ranked second to last (ahead of Eritrea) on the World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders. The constitution of North Korea provides for freedom of the press, but in practice, all media is strictly controlled by the government.. The national media is focused almost entirely on political propaganda and the promotion of the personality cults surrounding Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il. It emphasises historical grievances toward the United States and Japan.
Freedom of the Press
Reporters Without Borders claims that radio or television sets that can be bought in North Korea are controlled to receive only the government frequencies and sealed with a label to prevent tampering with the equipment. It is a serious criminal offense to manipulate the sets and receive radio or television broadcasts from outside North Korea. In a party campaign in 2003, the head of each party cell in neighbourhoods and villages received instructions to verify the seals on all radio sets.
As North and South Korea use different television, it is not possible to view broadcasts across the border between the two countries; however, in areas bordering China, it has reportedly been possible to receive television from that country. A United Nations envoy reported that any North Korean citizen caught watching a South Korean film may result in that person being sent to a labour camp.