View Full Version : North Korea- They’re Not Brainwashed- They’re Just Miserable

1st April 2010, 19:33
They’re Not Brainwashed, They’re Just Miserable

This month, North Korea reportedly executed the Korean Workers' Party's economic policy director, Pak Nam Gi, for being a "bourgeois infiltrator" who ruined the country's economy. Upon his 2005 appointment to the position, a post akin to a finance minister, Pak had allegedly vowed to put an end to the "capitalist fantasy." But the 77-year-old technocrat's disastrous currency-reform program, launched Nov. 30, 2009, ended up damaging something very real: the informal market economy that today provides for most North Koreans' sustenance. The "reform" chopped two zeros off the currency, gave citizens only a brief window to exchange their wealth, and capped the amount of old bills that North Koreans could trade in at roughly $40.

More... So complete was the resulting economic chaos that it precipitated an unprecedented outpouring of civil disobedience. And though the sporadic protests appear to have been relatively small and uncoordinated, the reported prominence of octogenarian war veterans among the protesters was enough to unnerve the government. The fiasco was obviously self-inflicted and visibly inconsistent with the regime's tendency to attribute all ills that befall the country to foreign "hostile forces." Pyongyang bumped up the limit for currency exchanges and in February made a historically unparalleled apology to the public delivered by Pak and Premier Kim Yong Il. And because leader Kim Jong Il's favorite son and rumored successor, Kim Jong Un, was associated with the policy, someone had to pay. Pak was the scapegoat.

From the outside, the apology looks like a watershed moment for one of the world's most repressive regimes. Yet understanding how North Koreans actually assess these events is enormously difficult. In highly repressive states like North Korea, people engage in what social scientists call "preference falsification," or, more colloquially, "keeping your head down" -- suppressing the outward expression of their true feelings in favor of maintaining a facade of support. But two recent large-scale surveys of North Korean refugees conducted in China and South Korea suggest that privately held assessments of the regime are indeed highly negative. The surveys, of which I am a co-author, paint a picture of an atomized society where trust is scant and collective action negligible.

With the refugees having voted with their feet, it would of course be surprising if they did not hold the regime in low regard. But when we controlled for observable characteristics such as age, gender, occupation, and even life experiences such as receipt of food aid or arrest and detention, the refugees' views do not appear too different from our best statistical projection of those of the remaining resident population. In short, the surveys offer a unique glimpse into the Hermit Kingdom.

The roots of discontent with the economic situation date back to the 1990s, when a famine killed between 600,000 and 1 million people -- about 3 to 5 percent of the population. The once centrally planned North Korean economy marketized when the country's payment and food distribution system collapsed, but the regime was never comfortable with the resulting loss of control. Suddenly, new paths to wealth, status, and potential political influence opened as merchants of food, household items, radios, and even services such as bicycle repair began to appear. Perhaps out of fear, envy, or ideological antipathy, the regime has periodically tried to stamp out the market -- hence November's reckless currency reform.

The surveys' results suggest that the regime's discomfort might be well founded. Countries such as North Korea, where people routinely hide their true opinions, are prone to sudden, explosive political mobilizations like the ones that swept Eastern and Central Europe in the late 1980s. Those mobilizations happen when nascent expressions of discontent cascade -- each person who sticks their head above the parapet encourages another to do the same. And in North Korea, the market appears to be just such a semiautonomous zone of social communication (and potentially political organizing) beyond the state's reach.

Meanwhile, the state monopoly over information that once kept North Koreans in the dark about the true nature of their situation is fast crumbling, a victim to economic integration with China, improved telecommunications, and the erosion of control conferred by the socialist economic system. The survey responses depict a society that is increasingly bold about consuming foreign news at the same time that it becomes increasingly available.

In response to the threat of dissent, the regime has tightened its grip, for example by criminalizing economic activity not directly sanctioned by the central authorities. Significant numbers of North Koreans are detained in low-level penal facilities where abuse is ubiquitous. The vast majority receive no trials or formal legal proceedings before incarceration. The penal system is increasingly used as an instrument not only for intimidating traders and entrepreneurs but also for extortion, as officials extract bribes from market participants understandably eager to avoid being imprisoned. Employment in the establishment institutions of the party and state is increasingly sought -- not out of patriotism but because such positions provide a platform for economic predation on the general public.

These practices, however, might be backfiring if the goal is to keep the country's population quiet. The state's actions are widely regarded as unjust and appear to be contributing to the politicization of the country's people. Consumption of foreign news, participation in the market economy, and contact with the police (especially the political police) are associated with holding dissenting views -- and the tendency, however muted, to communicate them to one's peers. The currency reform disaster adds an exclamation point to trends that were already well under way.

That said, it is a large leap from privately held views to effective collective action. And without any civil society institutions to speak of, North Koreans might be incapable of channeling mass discontent into effective political action. There are no trade unions such as Solidarity in Poland, no churches to play the role that the Roman Catholic Church did in the "people power" revolution in the Philippines, and no forum of intellectuals such as the Civic Forum in Czechoslovakia.

So what are the lessons for North Korea's current rulers and their authoritarian counterparts elsewhere? Pervasive repression, ruthlessly applied, appears to work -- at least up to a point. However, viewed through the prism of veteran analyst Edward Luttwak's infamous formulation that dictators should set the marginal cost of repression equal to the marginal rent extracted from the population, it appears that the North Korean leadership has been overdoing it on repression for more than two generations. Having thoroughly degraded the society, the leadership is now devouring its own.

Original story link;
http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/03/30/theyre_not_brainwashed_theyre_just_miserable?page= full

27th November 2010, 06:03
note i post the above story last April 1st, i thought then > what in the world happened to North Korea ?
Today, i read the following news report "South Korea buries marines killed by N Korea attack" i thought to myself, what other nations government is capable of acting and reacting in this manner > towards its own people and economic well being? i realized sadly, for a brief moment ~ the only country i could think of was my own > the United States of America. :tsk:


"South Korea buries marines killed by N Korea attack"

South Korea has held funerals for the two marines killed when North Korea fired artillery shells at the South's Yeonpyeong island earlier this week.

It comes as the US calls on China to do more to increase its pressure on Pyongyang to prevent further incidents.

At least four South Koreans died in the incident - one of the worst clashes since the end of the Korean War.

The South, which returned fire, has announced it will begin joint military exercises with US forces on Sunday.

China has said its "top priority" is to keep the situation under control. Beijing has begun a series of talks with Washington, Seoul and Pyongyang in an attempt to ease the tensions.

The funeral for marines Seo Jeong-woo and Moon Kwang-wook was held at a military hospital in Seongnam, close to the capital, Seoul and broadcast live on national television.

"We will make sure we take revenge on North Korea”

End Quote Maj Gen You Nak-jun Marine Corps Commander

Hundreds of government and military officials, politicians, religious leaders, activists and civilians attended, said the Yonhap news agency.

Among them were Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik and Maj Gen You Nak-jun, head of the marine corps.

"We'll certainly repay North Korea a hundred- and thousand-fold for killing and harming our marines," said Maj Gen You.

"South Korean active-duty marines and all reserve forces will engrave this anger and hostility in our bones and we will make sure we take revenge on North Korea."

Officials and relatives placed white flowers on the two coffins draped in the South Korean flag. Marines sang as the coffins were carried out.


The soldiers were killed, along with two civilians, on Tuesday, when the North launched a sudden barrage of shells at Yeonpyeong island, close to the maritime border between the two countries.


The attack was one of the North's most belligerent actions since the end of the 1950-53 war, which concluded without a peace treaty.

It led to the South replacing its defence minister and evacuating most of the island's civilian population.

Pyongyang said it had been provoked by the South's military exercises, which were being carried out close to Yeonpyeong.

China, Pyongyang's only ally, has been increasing diplomatic efforts to ease tensions on the peninsula and avoid further eruptions.

On Friday, China's Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi met the North's ambassador in person, and spoke on the phone to his US and South Korean counterparts, according to a statement carried by the state-run Xinhua news agency.

"The top priority now is to keep the situation under control and to ensure such events do not happen again," the statement said.

North Korea: Timeline 2010

26 March: South Korean warship, Cheonan, sinks, killing 46 sailors

20 May: Panel says a North Korean torpedo sank the ship; Pyongyang denies involvement

July-September: South Korea and US hold military exercises; US places more sanctions on Pyongyang

29 September: North holds rare party congress seen as part of father-to-son succession move

29 October: Troops from North and South Korea exchange fire across the land border

12 November: North Korea shows US scientist new - undeclared - uranium enrichment facility

23 November: North shells island of Yeonpyeong, killing at least four South Koreans

Few details of the conversations were released, and the US state department has not yet commented.

But the top US military commander, Admiral Mike Mullen, has said he does not know "why China doesn't push harder" with Pyongyang.

In an interview with CNN due to be broadcast on Sunday but released as a transcript, Adm Mullen said Beijing appeared to mistakenly believe it could control North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-il.

"I'm not sure he is controllable," he said, adding that Mr Kim was "not a guy we can trust".

"That's why the leadership aspect of this from China is so important, because if any country has influence in Pyongyang, it's China,"

The US and South Korea are due to begin four days of pre-arranged military exercises on Sunday.

China said they will escalate tensions and has warned against any infractions into its exclusive economic zone, which extends 320km (200 miles) from its coast.

Pyongyang said the drills were pushing the region to "the brink of war".

But the Pentagon said Beijing was being kept informed about the naval exercises, and insisted that they were not directed at China.

Meanwhile, South Korea has increased troop numbers on Yeonpyeong and says it will change its rules of engagement to allow it to respond more forcefully if incidents such as Tuesday's happen again.

The cabinet decided that the old rules of engagement gave too much emphasis to preventing a military incident escalating.

A presidential spokesman said the South would implement different levels of response in the future, depending on whether the North attacked military or civilian targets.

This week's tension comes as the North is undergoing an apparent transition of power from leader Kim Jong-il to his young son Kim Jong-un.


28th November 2010, 03:31
The North Korea is future version of one world government. Doesn't it?
The criminals, corrupted governments run all the countries.
When you see the brutality just by the number of kills, U.S is many times exceed the North Korea.

If there happens war in Korean peninsula, it will be orchestrated by powerful nations. The first one is U.S.
South Korea need approval from U.S to attack North Korea, literally this country never had own right to defend itself for 20th century.
It's known fact. Most Koreans do know. Any military experts in other countries know it.

U.S can drop bombs or shoot missiles to the North but the South can't.
Because the regime is sole dependent on U.S. Most of the Korean elites are front men of U.S.

The conflicts have had to exist for the warmongers and TPTB.
Poor Koreans.

28th November 2010, 06:25
Thank you Hughe~
for your insightful remarks and keen observations.

The governmental sociopathic behavior being played out here upon this planet cannot continue. The higher (vibrational) Consciouness > won't allow it to continue for much longer! This is what my intuitiveness reveals to me~ What does your intuition say to you all here?