[OP of "North Korean punishments are inhumane, but quite effective"]
While North Korea has nothing to be proud of, how they've managed to control and manipulate their population & avoiding a civil war is quite impressive in my opinion.
Understanding the Kim regime's resilience requires an understanding of the tools it has used to stay in power. The first is social engineering—creating a country where the very building blocks of opposition are lacking. North Korea has no merchant or land-owning class, independent unions, or clergy. Intellectuals are regime-loyal bureaucrats, not dissidents, and strict restrictions on the activities of students have cowed them into submission.
Second, the regime pushes an ideology. The Supreme Leader (suryong) system established Kim Il-sung as the center of a cult of personality. At the core of the regime's juche ideology is nationalism with a xenophobic, even racist, slant. Anti-Japanese sentiment, hostility to South Korea, and propaganda against the United States create legitimacy for the regime. As the regime inculcates its ideology and cult of personality, it strives for tighter controls on information. In the 1990s, after the famine, the regime's control of information decreased and cross-border smuggling grew, but recently the regime has tried to reassert its control.
Perhaps most important, the North Korean regime is brutal in its use of force. Dissent is detected through an elaborate network of informants working for multiple internal security agencies. People accused of relatively minor offenses undergo "reeducation"; those accused of more serious transgressions are either immediately executed or interred in miserable political prison camps. Even more daunting, according to the "three generations" policy, the regime punishes not only the individual responsible for the transgressions but his or her whole family.
People accused of political crimes are arrested and sentenced to prison camps without trials, while their families are often kept in the dark about their whereabouts. Up to 120,000 inmates were in the country’s four major political prisons in 2014 and were subjected to gruesome conditions, according to the United Nations report.
Two million to three million people were believed to have died during an extended famine in North Korea in the 1990s, The New York Times reported in 1999, around when the country began to recover.
At the time, North Korea used food as a tool to enforce political loyalty, prioritizing its distribution based on who was most useful to the nation’s political system, the United Nations report stated.
More recently, the inmate population in North Korea’s political prison camps has been culled through “deliberate starvation,” the report found, adding that suspects are also starved “to increase the pressure on them to confess and to incriminate other persons.”
These punishments are extremely inhumane as everyone knows but they're quite effective in asserting power and control. I'm quite impressed at how even the military is starved to cripple them from even having any thoughts of oppossition. The abuse is so blatant that no one dares to even think about rivolting against their leader.