North Korea: North Koreans enjoy the lowest levels of freedom in the world according to Freedom House's rankings. Kim Jong Il, who assumed power in 1994 upon the death of his father, North Korea's founding leader Kim Il Sung, retains all political power. The regime maintains a network of prison camps in which thousands of political prisoners endure brutal conditions. All facets of personal life -- including employment, education, residence, and access to medical care -- are determined by a semihereditary system that classifies citizens into subgroups based on family "loyalty" to the regime. Decades of severe economic mismanagement have left the country dependent on food aid -- which is tightly controlled by the regime -- and the population is starving. This year, North Korea made several leadership changes, promoting key members of Kim Jong Il's family to positions in anticipation of succession. In particular, Kim's son Kim Jong Un now appears to be confirmed as the heir apparent.