In the wake of North Korea's claim to have exploded a nuclear bomb, articles featuring criticism of the cruel and secretive government have again flooded Western newspapers. The London Sunday Times reports that North Korea's obsession with racial purity has led to the killing of disabled infants and the forced abortion of women who bore children to Chinese men. Refugees paint a picture of a regime which is less a Communist workers' state than a monarchy based on notions of racial superiority.

A North Korean refugee doctor, Ri Kwang-chol, says that deformed babies are killed soon after birth. "There are no people with physical defects in North Korea," he told a seminar in Seoul.

Women who escape over the border into China are often sold by traffickers. If they are pregnant when they are caught and returned to North Korea, soldiers abort the foetus and the babies are suffocated or tossed into bins. The Korean Bar Association says that 58% of defectors interviewed by its lawyers have reported stories of forced abortions. A 2003 human rights report by the US Committee for Human Rights in North Korea found that the regime was practicing what it termed "ethnic infanticide".

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