Video Duration 25 minutes 00 seconds
From: Inside Story

North Korea : Challenges of a ‘pariah state’

What is life like for the 25 million people living under the rule of Kim Jong-un?

North Korea, perhaps the most secretive country in the world, is seen by many in the international community as a belligerent pariah state.

It is home to a 1.2 million-man active duty army, the fourth largest in the world. And while it does not have the ability to deliver nuclear weapons or missiles, it does have nuclear weapons – eight of them.

However, the country faces several challenges. According to the United Nations, one third of North Korea’s population does not have enough to eat and more than a quarter of all children are stunted from malnutrition.

For years, North Korea has faced frequent and often severe food shortages. Famines in the 1990s are believed to have killed hundreds of thousands of people – if not more.

The man in charge of the armed forces is 31-year-old Kim Jong-un – often referred to as ‘dear leader’ – who is the youngest head of state in the world. Like his father and grandfather before him, he rules North Korea with zero tolerance for dissent – a crime said to be punishable by death.

In this episode of Inside Story we ask what life is like for the 25 million people who live under his rule, and explore conditions in a country where the slightest bit of dissent can lead to prison or even death.

Presenter: Fauziah Ibrahim 


Yeonmi Park – A delegate attending the 2014 One Young World Summit in Dublin, who fled North Korea with her family in 2007 when she was 13 years old.

Robert Carlin – A former US state department policy adviser on North Korea, and a visiting fellow at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation.