A North Korean defector revealed that people in the North Asian country feel they have no other choice but to show allegiance to Kim Jong Un because of the consequences that would follow if they don't — namely being sentenced to hard labor in the notorious prison camps.
"(In the camps) you are forced to labor and you live a life no better than a dog or a pig," said the defector, who spoke with Sky News but did not reveal his identity as his daughter is still inside the isolated Pacific country. "It is better to die."
He noted that in private, people are critical of their dictator, but do not dare to make those views public.
"If you criticize Kim Jong Un you will go to a prison camp and not come back," the man said. "In North Korean society you can do everything but criticize the Kim family. If you are caught, even if you have money, you won't be able to survive. It's a frightening system."
The defector stated that people are forced to come out to support Kim, and argued that news footage presenting North Koreans as thankful is not genuine.
"Everyone is aware that there is no other place in the world as poor as North Korea, and that no other country suffers as much as our people do," he revealed.
"We don't follow the system because we like it, we are only following because we are scared of it."
He argued that even the corporals and captains live in houses that are "in poor state."
The defector also confirmed past reports that have accused Kim's regime of using school grounds for public executions.
"Yes, school grounds, because North Korea uses this as a tool for instilling public fear of being punished by their government," he said.
Several human rights groups have spoken out against the nightmarish conditions in North Korea's prison camps, with Christian Solidarity Worldwide calling on Kim's regime to be held responsible for crimes against humanity.
"Essentially, North Korea is the most oppressive regime in the world; it is certainly the most closed, isolated country in the world. It's a regime that stands accused by the U.N.'s own Commission of Inquiry of crimes against humanity," Benedict Rogers, East Asia Team Leader at CSW, told The Christian Post in an interview in March.
"Those crimes against humanity include the incarceration of 100,000 to 200,000 prisoners, who are jailed because of political crimes, and are subjected to the worst forms of torture, slave labor, denial of medical care, sexual violence, and in some instances execution," Rogers added.
A Canadian pastor who was recently freed after spending two years at a North Korean prison camp also opened up about what he suffered there:
"During the winter, I had to dig holes that measured one meter wide and one meter deep," Rev. Hyeon Soo Lim said on Sunday at the Light Korean Presbyterian Church in Mississauga, Ontario.
"The ground was frozen. The mud was so hard that it took two days to dig one hole. It was incredibly challenging. My upper body was sweating. My fingers and toes were frostbitten."