I have always thought that North Korea was the closest thing to Hell on Earth that we have left. Unlike many other areas of the world that are also marked by evils and atrocities, NK, like Hell, is institutionally, supremely ordered. The Taliban regime of a decade or so ago seemed to be taking its first steps down this road (yet another example of the left and the right meeting at the furthest extremes), but they never managed to develop the required all-encompassing machinery of control to reach North Korea's level of perfection.
What is most tragic for the North Korean people is that the institutional machinery there is so pervasive that any type of civil war or insurrection from below still seems unrealistic, at least in the current circumstances. There is no Northern Alliance or Karzai (who may have their own shortcomings, but are still a leap forward from what the Taliban regime was becoming before 9/11). There is currently no viable resistance or alternative we can support even if we wanted to.
There are no immediate, clear-cut answers, IMO. I believe the general policy (followed by both Republican and Democratic administrations) of delicately isolating and weakening the NK regime, helping the people when we can feel some confidence that it is actually the people that are being helped, using carrot/stick propositions when there is leverage, and patiently monitoring for signs of cracks that can be exploited, is the only choice at this time.
I don't believe China's policy is to support the viability of the North Korean regime at all costs, but I do believe that there are aspects of it's policy that are deeply troubling. First and foremost, the policy of returning refugees/defectors (call them what you will. They are people in need of humanitarian assistance who just escaped from Hell) to the North is tantamount to murder. At the very least, China should allow all such escapees to transit to South Korea, who will take them.
It may be that China is doing what it does to avoid internal/administrative headaches, to deflect NK ire from turning against China, and maybe even to uphold its longstanding policy (which in my view is to further its own domestic objectives) of "non-interference" in the internal affairs of other countries. To put it bluntly, although they are just barely comprehensible as short-term justifications, they are a serious moral cop-out. It reminds me of the policy that many countries (including the US) had to turn away most fleeing Jews before World War II (the notorious Ship of Fools incident), a policy that remains emblematic of moral cowardice in the face of evil. If/when the NK regime is eventually overthrown, I would not be at all surprised if there are many in NK who will not look back on China's actions kindly.
As a guy who work with refugees for a moment, I can only add that refugees tend to lie about the coutry they flee from...
Some of them do this because of fear being send back, some are just attention seeking, some have other reason to do this...
So this story may be true, partialy true or completly false.
Just my 2 grosze...
There is the little matter of the physical details. It's hard to fake a missing finger, a meat-hook wound in the groin, and burn scars all over the body. Was he a butcher working in a barbecue who had a series of accidents with the (non-existent) short ribs?
I respect your personal experience, but the accounts of the refugees from North Korea are too numerous, detailed and consistent to be denied.
This was one of the most terrible things I have read in some time. With the injuries this guy is reported to have and with his later admission of having reported his family the whole thing seems quite believable to me, sadly.