A North Korean Defector Describes Life Under Kim Jong-Un
It's the most secretive state in the world, despite much speculation about its government and its people.
North Korea remains a great enigma, led by dictator Kim Jong-un. His totalitarian regime, run on a stance of zero tolerance and a hatred of the west is built on a foundation of communism and pure power.
And now Hee Yeon Lim, a 26-year-old defector from Pyongyang (North Korea's capital), has explained what it's like living under the dictator's regime - including public executions, his teen sex slaves and his lavish lunches.
She's the daughter of an army colonel, and a former member of the regime's inner circle.
When her father, Wui Yeon Lim, 51, passed away, Hee Yeon decided to flee the country along with her other family members.
She now lives in South Korea, and spoke from a hideaway - her name has been changed to protect her identity. It's a big risk, even for former residents, to spill the beans on the dictator.
Her outstanding memory is that of a group of 11 musicians, who were executed in a football stadium for making an adult movie.
Hee Yeon Lim explained: "The musicians were brought out, tied up, hooded and apparently gagged, so they could not make a noise, not beg for mercy or scream.
"They were lashed to the end of anti-aircraft guns.
"It was so horrible and I could not eat for three days as it made my stomach churn. What I saw that day made me sick in my stomach. Despite our privilege, I was scared. I saw terrible things in Pyongyang."
Hee Yeon also discussed Kim Jong-un's extravagances, adding that when he goes for lunch he does so in style. Costing almost £1,000 ($1,353) a time, he eats like a king, while his people are often left to eat nothing but grass.
The 33-year-old also regularly picks sex slaves from schools, despite being a married father of three.
Hee Yeon added: "Officials came to our schools and picked out teenage girls to work at one of his hundreds of homes around Pyongyang.
"They are taught how to massage him and they become sex slaves. Yes, they have to sleep with him and they cannot make a mistake or object because they could very easily simply disappear."
Once he's finished with them, he either dismisses them or marries them to top officials.
To escape, like many others, Hee Yeon had to bribe officials (the economy, being so poor, is corrupt). It cost them £5,000 ($6,767) to go via Laos and then to Seoul.
Around 30,000 North Koreans now have refugee status in South Korea, with many more across the world.
The nationalised economy of the country is weak, based on industries like machine building, mining and textiles, with little exported, and often its 25 million-strong population suffer famine or food shortages - except for Kim Jong-un and his people, who seem to be relatively well off.
It has the fourth largest army in the world - an imposing stat with which to threaten America, Japan and neighbours South Korea - which is often used to control the lower classes. One word against Kim Jong-un, or his father Kim Jong-il, or even his grandfather Kim Il-sung, can result in a lifetime of misery.
Featured Image Credit: PA