The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) remains one of the most repressive countries in the world. Ruled by the authoritarian leader Kim Jong Un, the government responded to international challenges and the Covid-19 pandemic in 2021 with deepened isolation and repression, and maintained fearful obedience in the population through threats of execution, imprisonment, enforced disappearances, and forced hard labor in detention and prison camps. In 2021, the North Korea government extended extreme and unnecessary measures under the pretext of protecting against the spread of Covid-19 by closing its borders, and tightly restricting domestic travel as well as distribution of food and other products within the country.

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