There are two worlds in North Korea: One is the world of senior military officers, Communist Party members, and the country's ruling elite. They enjoy a lavish lifestyle, fancy restaurants, diplomatic shops with European foods, nightclubs, even a casino. The world for ordinary people in North Korea is completely different. In their world, one can see young children, undersized, undernourished, mute, with sunken eyes and skin stretched tight across their faces, wearing uniform blue-and-white-striped pajamas. Anyone who's seen pictures of Dachau or Auschwitz would find the scene distressingly familiar.
Most of the patients in the hospitals suffer from psychosomatic illnesses. They're worn out by compulsory drills, innumerable parades, mandatory assemblies beginning at the crack of dawn, and constant, droning propaganda. Clinical depression is rampant. Alcoholism is common. Young adults have no hope, no future. Everywhere you look, people are beset by anxiety.
Everyday workers and farmers are starving and dying.
Unwarranted arrest and detention are common, and one can only imagine what the conditions are like in the so-called "reform institutions" where entire families are imprisoned when any member does or says something to offend the regime. These camps are closed to all foreigners, even to stringently non-confrontational organizations like the International Red Cross.