Illustrations from North Korea – level 3

10-06-2014 07:00

These illustrated messages of misery by a man who survived more than two years in a North Korean prison camp show the unimaginable horrors prisoners are put through.

North Korean defector Kim Kwang-il, who was jailed for travelling to China to sell pine mushrooms, submitted the disturbing illustrations depicting torture, abuse and starvation. The sketches shed more light on what life is like inside North Korea.

This image shows prisoners being forced to stand in stress positions, which they describe as ‘pigeon torture’. The prisoners are made to stand in the stress position for three days straight, enduring agonising pain.

A drawing of a prison guard kicking a man into a small cupboard illustrates how prisoners are forced to live in confined spaces. Another constant for many North Koreans is the threat of starvation. To survive, hungry prisoners resort to eating mice and snakes. The corpses of prisoners are typically eaten by mice or sent to the crematorium by other starving prisoners.

The sketches are part of a new, damning UN report that directly accuses leader Kim Jong-un of committing crimes against humanity, reminiscent of Nazi Germany. The 400-page report calls for Kim to face charges in the International Criminal Court – including the extermination, starvation and enslavement of the country’s population.

Difficult words: defector (somebody who leaves his country and joins the opposing one), to shed light on something (to reveal something about something), endure (to survive something very hard), agonising (extremely painful), confined (small), resort (to do something which you wouldn’t do normally), damning (extremely critical), extermination (killing of a lot of people), starvation (suffering or death because of no food).



If you read and listen to two articles every day, your reading and listening skills can improve fast. You can learn quickly and after some time you will not have to translate into your own language. You will simply understand. Why should you do this?

When you listen to people in your native language, you do not translate. You simply understand. The same has to be in English. When you learn English, you have to learn the whole sentences in context.

Students, who translate English texts, do exercises and do tests are very good at translating, doing exercises and doing tests, but they have problems with understanding English in real life. In real life, nobody waits for your translation. People usually use simple English when they speak but they use it fast. You have to understand with no translation to your native language. If you translate, you cannot be part of communication because you are thinking about the language too much. These words are maybe hard to read but they are true.

You also have to hear every new word 5 to 10 times if you want to remember it. That’s why we use the same words in one level. If you read and hear the same words again and again, you will understand them and remember them. If you know words from one level, you can go to a higher level and learn new words. It is important to go step by step, and read and listen to words which are used in English often. This is what we do with our news. In our short news, we use words which are used in English often. Level 1 has the 1000 most important words. Level 2 has the 2000 most important words, Level 3 has the 3000 most important words.

So, if you want to understand English fast and learn fast, read two articles or more a day. You can improve your reading and listening quickly when you read easy English news. We will help you learn English fast and understand it. When you use this website every day, you can learn 3000 words which you need for communication with anybody in English.

How to improve your English with News in Levels: 


  1. Read two news articles every day.
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