The State of North Korea

 Posted by on 16 April 2007 at 7:54 am  Uncategorized
Apr 162007

Paul recently pointed me to this fascinating report from StrategyPage on the current state of North Korea:

North Korean Mass Diplomat Defections Nightmare

April 8, 2007: The North Korean regime has issued a strong “reminder” to its diplomats, and other personnel stationed abroad, that they are not to have more than one child with them on a foreign posting. This suggests North Korea is worried about possible defections by diplomats, consular officials, business agents, etc., who’ve got their wives and kids with them in some foreign country. If they can only take one child with them, those that remain home essentially become hostages to their good behavior. The North Korean government has become increasingly alarmed at the number of diplomats defecting and, even worse, those who stick around, but in the pay for American, South Korean and Chinese intelligence agencies.

The response to this order was startling; many of these parents have refused to send children back to North Korea. To old North Korea hands, such defiance to authority is startling. But these North Korea government officials know their country is a basket case, and are willing to risk losing their jobs, rather than send any of their children back to a home country that is, day-by-day, becoming a hellish parody of the communist “workers paradise.”

Historians of communism consider North Korea the pinnacle of police state perfection. Josef Stalin would be envious, or maybe proud, because Stalin was one of the founding fathers of North Korea. The degree of state control in North Korea is far in excess of anything ever achieved in the Soviet Union. But this was achieved using a population already disciplined by centuries of efficient feudalism, and several decades of Japanese colonialism. The Japanese were very disciplined, very strict and very brutal. By comparison, the North Korean communist government was something of a relief. Moreover, the North Korean communists worked the nationalist and cultural angle successfully. Because of the total control of the media, the North Korean communists created an alternate universe for their subjects to live in.

As small numbers of North Koreans managed to escape over the years, and make their way to South Korea, usually via China, it was amazing to see the culture shock. The North Korean refugees were numbed by the degree of difference between the fantasy view of the outside world created by the North Korea communists, and the reality.

But in the last decade, reality has seeped into the Perfect Police State, changing the attitudes of the guards, as well as the inmates. True Believers have been gradually replaced by Practical Pretenders. What’s happening now, with North Korean government officials openly defying their government, while pretending not to, is the best example of how North Korea culture is evolving. It’s weird, it’s wretched and, in a perverse way, wonderful.

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