South Koreans defecting... ...TO North Korea

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crackedpleasures
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04 Nov 2013, 8:17 pm

Jacoby wrote:
crackedpleasures wrote:
Fnord wrote:
Why even discuss North Korea as if it is anything other than a feudal dictatorship?

They're no threat to anybody, economically, militarily, or politically.

It is even worse than Somalia.


It isn't. Somalia is the most dangerous and lawless state on earth, even a short walk is lethal sometimes as gangs shoot and bomb each other constantly and no police force has any control on what happens. Except the province of Somaliland, Somalia is one big lawless place where killings are daily events. As bad as North Korean oppression goes, I'd rather be a slave than dead... I mean, I'd rather be surveilled all days than dying in a gun fight on the street I live in. Somalia is lawless while North Korea is the ultimate police state, they're opposites.

Saudi Arabia by the way is also a lot worse than North Korea. But granted, I can only think of these 2 countries where life would be worse than in the DPRK.


Patrick Henry you are not but Somalia isn't that bad when compared to its immediate neighbors from what I know about it. I'd much rather live in Somalia than I would Eritrea or the Ogaden in Ethiopia. Somalia has a relatively robust economy and isn't as lawless as you think. Somaliland and Puntland are both self-governing and stable. In the south(where Mogadishu is located) is where you find al-Shabaab and the warlords.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xeer


Puntland is very dangerous. In Mogadishu, shootings are daily occurances. Even UN is withdrawing its aid staff because it's too dangerous, and the government controls only a small area of Mogadishu.

Somaliland indeed is safe, they also consider themselves a sovereign state rather than part of Somalia, but so far they have not gotten recognition. However, de facto Somaliland functions on its own. It issues own passport stamps, has own local government, ... and it is safe. Totally different from the other areas of Somalia, so very understandable they would love to officially gain independence as Somaliland. Neighbouring Puntland and Mogadishu is bad enough as it is.


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crackedpleasures
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04 Nov 2013, 8:21 pm

AspieOtaku wrote:
FOr the record most of my family serves in the US military and are against nations like North Korea and such because well? they violate human rights and enjoy torturing people and are against the US constitution and I get tired of my country being vilified for it.


Capital punishment is violating human rights.
Unapproved-by-UN invasions are violating human rights.
Coups against foreign governments without UN approval and decisions is violating international law.
Torture is omnipresent in prisons in the US, both in the States itself as in its foreign soil such as Guantánamo.

The US is an imperialist nation who randomly ignores international guidelines and rules whenever it suits them, and does not care much about lying about motivations for military interventions as long as it suits them well.

I don't hate the US or its people. But I am strongly opposed to the USA as a political entity. Bring on Russia as leading nation.


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91
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04 Nov 2013, 8:43 pm

crackedpleasures wrote:
Watch the documentary "Welcome to North Korea" by Tetteroo. The images don"t lie. South Korea indeed built a separation wall similar to the former Iron Curtain or the "security fence" Israel is building around the West Bank.


There is a DMZ but there is no 'wall', rather there is a minefield and a large amount of space which was designed to deter the North from invading the South. I don't need to watch a documentary as I was there less than two months ago. The barrier does not represent one side walling off the other, rather it is a military fortification that exists between two vary large armies. It is closer to the western front during the First World War than it is to Palestine and Israel. There are fortifications on both sides.

crackedpleasures wrote:
It is choosing between cholera and aids, that's for sure. But in North Korea religion is not determining life, in Saudi you are in a theocracy whose extent of dictatorship is even worse than the north. By this I am not defending N Korea. If I had the choice between Saudi or North Korea, I'd feel that regardless what I choose I'm not going to survive it long term.


Religion, or lack there of determines life in North Korea. If you pray you are off to the gulag. When I cross into Rason they search my bags for Bibles going in. Both are more or less totalitarian in the enforcement of the extremist dogma. There was a time when Pyongyang was call 'The Jerusalem of the East'.

crackedpleasures wrote:
Actually I was surprised when the expat I talked to mentioned traffic jams, I never saw such images. A humanitary aid worker responsible for food distribution during 3 years on duty in North Korea said he never saw actual hunger, but a very dramatic shortage of some types of food, leading to very unbalanced and unhealthy diets. But no real food shortage overall.


There are food shortages in the outer provinces but the underground economy is what keeps people fed there. That grey market, which keeps the country going did not really exist as it does now during the 1990's. Make no mistake, they are one bad crop away from another million people starving to death. They do not rotate crops, they do not use fertilizer and the plant everywhere. Even with all this, they are only just producing enough on their best years. One bad year and it will all go wrong, the systemic fault that caused the starvation in the 1990's has not been fixed and the grey market cannot deliver enough food fast enough if something like that happens again.

I certainly experienced shortages of variety myself, I spent 5 days trying to find orange juice in Pyongyang before giving up and just living on nescafe cans. There is very little fruit in the country, we take apples and other things in with us to give to the kids.

crackedpleasures wrote:
I guess, like an American journalist recently stated, as long as North Korea chooses to isolate itself from the world and keep borders closed, it is impossible to verify all news and to see clear when contradicting info reaches the outside world. We will probably find out the truth retrospectively only once the country has decided to pick up relations with foreign countries and reduce its extreme self-imposed isolationism.


That is somewhat the case, one of the things that surprised me is how much info I could get. What is really difficult is when people are totally mistake or misinterpret what they see. I have spent the last three days working with the telegraph and huffington post because some chap though cannabis was legal in NK. He had encountered raw tobacco and was convinced it was cannabis and that it was legal. After a few of us, who have also been to that same market and know the guides who took him the, spoke with him about it, he has had to start working on retractions but the story is still out there, at this moment. Now it will enter the rumor mill and getting it cleaned up is going to be very difficult. For the record, it is illegal but not really enforced and you can get it on the grey market but if you smoke it in public you are inviting trouble.

crackedpleasures wrote:
I was actually told tourists are more free to move around (with their guides) than people living on the countryside who have to request permits to visit Pyongyang. Needing a visa for internal travelling to your own capital, it sounds insane. But then Pyongyang was made to impress, and only people the Party likes are welcome to live there. Their standard of life is higher than elsewhere in the country, even though it's still low of course compared with neighbouring countries' cities.


Somewhat true, you notice very quickly that you are almost never allowed to just walk around even with your guides, although I have done so in Kaesong, Pyongyang and Rajin. When you are just traveling down the streets of Kaesong, you can see just how poor the country is. Pyongyang is designed to look impressive in some circumstances but you cannot hide the level of poverty there also.

crackedpleasures wrote:
No, it's a brand new band. Moranbong have been around much longer, or am I confusing with another band?


Moranbong were formed in 2012.

crackedpleasures wrote:
Anyway, every North Korean musician wishing to achieve some recognition is obliged to praise the Kim family and Juche in their songs. If not doing that, the song won't even be played.


Moreso, their music cannot run counter to certain themes. They have plenty of music about reunification and welcoming and other topics. Although most of the music remains pure propaganda the most often played song there is Arirang.

crackedpleasures wrote:
The US is an imperialist nation who randomly ignores international guidelines and rules whenever it suits them, and does not care much about lying about motivations for military interventions as long as it suits them well.

I don't hate the US or its people. But I am strongly opposed to the USA as a political entity. Bring on Russia as leading nation.


Moral equivalence arguments just annoy me they invite inaction when action is what is called for. If you think the US is a terrible entity I suggest you try travelling from Moscow to St. Petersburg. Russia has a smaller population than Bangldesh....

http://www.nytimes.com/newsgraphics/2013/10/13/russia/


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thomas81
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04 Nov 2013, 9:48 pm

91 wrote:

Religion, or lack there of determines life in North Korea. If you pray you are off to the gulag.

I don't know which part of your tour you got this information from, but I'm fairly sure this is a lie. I've read information on the Korean people's news agency and seen footage on youtube which suggests that there ARE temples and churches in the DPRK and some religious acceptance, albeit they are heavilly monitored by party members.

I saw an article on the KPNA website that actually boasted of their buddhist population.

EDIT: This certainly isn't an 'underground' church either

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0f_lg4QG2iY[/youtube]

Buddhists
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLV9EoYwgZw[/youtube]

91 wrote:
When I cross into Rason they search my bags for Bibles going in.


How certain are you they were after bibles specifically?

I know they also look for things like pornography and anti-communist propaganda.


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04 Nov 2013, 10:12 pm

thomas81 wrote:
I don't know which part of your tour you got this information from, but I'm fairly sure this is a lie. I've read information on the Korean people's news agency and seen footage on youtube which suggests that there ARE temples and churches in the DPRK and some religious acceptance, albeit they are heavilly monitored by party members.


There are some Churches in Pyongyang, I have been to Changchung 'Cathedral'. The pastors in the churches there are more or less fakes. The best knowledge on religion in NK comes from the people who in the Rason Special Economic Zone although 90% of the investment there is Chinese the US and South Korean efforts are almost universally Christian funded. As such the people who work there and interact daily with the locals are the best sources. Most talk of underground churches and of the fact that possessing a Bible is grounds for arrest. That fact is echoed by defector's testimony. The video you put up is from 1988, back then they flirted quite heavily with reform. They even used to debate economics on KCNA but the fall of the Soviet Union more or less scared Kim Il Sung back into his more repressive ways.

One of the most interesting discussions I had with officials in NK was around the discussion of my decision not to bow. Although my reason for doing so was largely secular, I just physically could not bring myself to bow to the regime. The assumption was, that because I was a Catholic I could not submit. Even though I was there representing a secular university and on entirely secular business the assumption was that Catholics are not going to be able to be obedient. My minder, who was a party member more or less facilitated the process so I could get through Kumsusan Palace without my actions provoking a scene. Although, I was left with no doubt that had I been a citizen, I would have been totally buggered.

thomas81 wrote:
How certain are you they were after bibles specifically?


Because they tell you. They were primarily looking for stacks of them because they are worried that the westerners in the region will supply the local home Churches. The border guards are not the brightest sparks in the universe and Rason is super tense at the moment because of the Kenneth Bae situation. A locked iPhone was enough to distract a search of my phone's contents, its how I got my journal out. I also had some of their money in my shoes (it is illegal for foreigners to leave the country with it).


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Life is real ! Life is earnest!
And the grave is not its goal ;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
Was not spoken of the soul.