Sunday, July 17, 2005

North Korea: The Totalitarian Nightmare Continues

Disturbing piece by Nicholas Kristof in the Times about the Orwellian state of North Korean society. Kristof suggests our policy is only helping the Dear Leader stay in power, but I'm not sure I could stomach his prescription, which seems to be normalized relations. Says Kristof:
Every single home in this country has two portraits on the wall, one of the Great Leader, Kim Il Sung, who is still president even though he died 11 years ago, and one of his son, the Dear Leader, Kim Jong Il. Inspectors regularly visit homes to make sure the portraits are well cared for.

Every subway car carries those same two portraits as well, and every adult wears a button depicting the Great Leader. And every home (or village, in rural areas) has an audio speaker, which starts broadcasting propaganda at 6 each morning to tell people how lucky they are...

When I arrived at Pyongyang airport, I was obliged to hand over my cellphones and satellite phones, to be picked up on my departure. Even many senior government officials have no access to the Internet.

...When everyone is raised to worship the Dear Leader, when there are no contrary voices, people genuinely revere the leader.
This is common among states controlled by dictators, a kind of nationwide Stockholm Syndrome. Upon the death of Stalin, the biggest tyrant the world has every seen, there was a real, nationwide outpouring of grief as a stunned populace wondered how they would every get by without the Man of Steel. North Korea remains the biggest unsolved problem on the world stage...

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