Tag Archives | North Korea

The Hunger Games In North Korea

imagesGrimly close to a real-life version of everyone's favorite dystopian novel/movie? Guernica on author Shin Dong-hyuk, who in 2005 slipped out of North Korea through a hole in an high-voltage fence:
Born into one of North Korea’s six “complete control districts” (labor camps), which have remained virtually unnoticed by the global community despite their visibility on Google Earth, Shin was born stripped of his humanity. Classified as “irredeemable” because of an uncle’s crime against the state (fleeing the country after the Korean War), Shin was regularly overworked, abused, and starved. In Camp 14, an isolated compound about 30 miles long, Shin was taught to believe that violence was normal and snitching a duty. When. at the age of 13, he discovered that his mother and older brother were planning an escape attempt, he promptly told a prison guard. Shin’s mother and brother were brought in front of the crowded camp and shot.
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Meet The Jongettes: North Korea’s First Girl Band

Can they compete with our own Supremes? No word on where to download their hit song ‘We Will Defend General Kim Jong Un at the Risk of Our Lives’. The Daily Mail reports on the debut of North Korea’s first girl pop act, who sang, played, and engaged in synchronized swimming:

Meet North Korea’s first girl band. Decked out in military uniform and close to tears, [they] played live in capital Pyongyang to celebrate the 70th birthday of Kim Jong il, who died two months ago.

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Is North Korea Addicted To Meth?

meth-in-ruili-yunnanCould between a quarter and half of the North Korean population be meth users? SINO-NK reports:

Though the North Korean government would never admit to outsiders that there is a drug problem in the country, the Daily NK has filed many reports over the past several years suggesting that “bingdu” (meth) is available practically at epidemic levels inside the DPRK. Articles claim, among other things, that commodity prices rise and fall depending on the harshness of ongoing crackdowns on bingdu; that middle schoolers in Hamhung, South Hamgyong Province, were caught producing bingdu; that teenagers give it as a birthday gift to peers; and, most recently, that Kim Jong-Un had ordered a crackdown on bingdu producers, sellers, and users.

Quotes from defectors and sources who spoke to the Daily NK report that anywhere from ¼ to ½ of the population in North Korea are using the drug. And as reported by Isaac Stone Fish in Newsweek, bingdu is often taken as a replacement for medicine in the DPRK.

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Chinese ‘Twitter’ Claims North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un Assassinated

Dead TwitterReports Lucas Shaw via Reuters:
Did social media just prematurely kill off the leader of North Korea? Rumors that Kim Jong-un, the country’s supreme leader, has been assassinated just months after he took power originated on Chinese microblogging service Weibo and have now spread all over Twitter. Others are reporting that Jong-un, believed to be 28 years old, may be on the run rather than dead, but both reports claim that some kind of coup is taking place. One person on Weibo wrote (loose translation): "north korea's biggest leader kim jung un, this morning in beijing time 2:45 am, had his residence broken into and was assassinated by unidentified people, who were shot dead by his bodyguards in korea's embassy in beijing, vehicles are rapidly increasing in number, and have surpassed 30 of them, this sort of battle formation hasn't been seen in over two years. please verify this."
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Is North Koreans’ Grief Authentic?

nkoreaWig & Pen ponders whether the intense displays of mass, hysterical mourning of the death of Kim Jong Il are genuine, and the facials “tells” for faked sadness:

Two weeks ago, while gazing at photos of North Koreans in mourning–including grown men chewing the scenery–I recalled head shots depicting emotional states in the books and training materials of Paul Ekman. What, I wondered, would Professor Ekman, our leading authority on “reading” emotions from facial expressions, make of that frenzy of facial contortions from the Hermit Kingdom?

Kim Jong Il…knew exactly how the [his] population lined up: loyal core, 5-25%; wavering, 50-75%; hostile, 8-27%. But those who dissented–even in a whisper, even by hanging his portrait askew–ended in prison camps, subjected to forced labor and starvation.

How might Dr. Ekman audit the “grief cred” of our North Korean subjects? He’d certainly have us look for any upward angling of the eyebrows’ inner corners.

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Kim Jong-il’s Photoshopped Funeral Picture

A few stragglers were removed from the right-hand photo, released by the Korean Central News Agency. (Compare the left sides of both pictures.) The chilling thing is, why bother altering the truth over such a minor detail? Do all totalitarian regimes display the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder, or just North Korea’s? Via TIME Magazine:

The big question is why did the North Koreans alter the image? Aesthetically, the doctored photograph is tad bit cleaner, lines straightened, but hardly improved. Psychologically speaking though, the clone job adds order to an already tidy scene. I’ve been examining photographs released by the KCNA for years and many are strikingly beautiful—enormous, perfectly-positioned crowds, immaculate and intricately composed. Now we may know why.

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Two Icons, Two Deaths, Two Worlds: The Media Simplified Them Both

Jong-Il / HavelThe world has said goodbye to two leaders who were worlds apart. One was a widely celebrated anti-communist, the other a widely despised communist. However, both the lives and thoughts of the Czech Republic’s Vaclav Havel, and North Korea’s Kim Jung-il were given short shrift.

The playwright turned President Havel who parlayed human rights activism into becoming Czechoslovakia‘s post-Communist President was a leader for the pro-democracy Charter 77 Movement, not just a Red-hating politician on a power trip.

Yet, the press praised him more for what he opposed than what he believed. The people who loved him adored him for both.

One report: “Thousands of silent mourners have accompanied the body of Vaclav Havel through central Prague as the Czech Republic began three days of national mourning for the icon of the Velvet Revolution.

About 10,000 mourners mostly in black, some carrying Czech or Slovak flags, joined a solemn procession taking the former president’s coffin from a church through narrow cobbled streets to Prague Castle, the seat of Czech presidents, on Wednesday.”

Havel was an intellectual, a non-violent revolutionary who also presided over the break up of his country into two: the Czech Republic and Slovakia.… Read the rest

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North Korean Leader Kim Jong-il Dead

Kim Jong-ilReports David Chance and Jack Kim of Reuters:
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il died of a heart attack while on a train trip, state media reported on Monday, sparking immediate concern over who is in control of the reclusive state and its nuclear program. A tearful television announcer dressed in black said the 69-year old had died on Saturday of physical and mental over-work on his way to give "field guidance" — a reference to advice dispensed by the "Dear Leader" on his trips to factories, farms and military bases. Kim Jong-un, Kim Jong-il's youngest son, was named by North Korea's official news agency KCNA as the "great successor" to his father, which lauded him as "the outstanding leader of our party, army and people."
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