Insights from North Korea

Interesting stuff on the BBC.

Initially I was simply irritated by our minders who seemed to have no concept of the expectations of a television film crew.

But my irritation slowly gave way to a realisation that their expectations of us were because they simply did not know any different.

North Korean TV only broadcasts hagiographies of the two leaders and pictures celebrating the country’s army, model farms, model villages etc.

Our minders had probably never seen any other kinds of news item or documentary about their country or the rest of the world.

They’re completely cut off from so many concepts we don’t even think about in the West. All just so the communists can stay in power a few more years.

They were not allowed to, and they could not, because no-one has access to the internet in North Korea.

Instead, the North Koreans have a special internal intranet which I was shown at Pyongyang University.

A postgraduate metallurgy student who spoke good English explained that he could not compare his research with a fellow student in say, London or Los Angeles, because the system would not let him.

But, he added brightly, “the Dear leader has kindly put all we need to know on our intranet system”.

But all this has consequences.

But many defectors from the North complain about how they are treated in the South.

“People look down on us here,” another recent arrival told me. “They treat us like poor, badly educated cousins with funny accents. It is hard for us to get work here.”

People in the North tell you that they long for the two countries to be united again.

“It has been 60 years since the country was divided by the civil war. Unification is our dream”, a university student in Pyongyang told me. “It must happen one day”.

A bit like the attitude of West Germans towards East Germans prior to unification, the South Koreans are not too keen of the thought of 23 million hungry and badly educated cousins pouring across the border.

Destruction (or more likely, implosion) of the north will only solve the first problem. Even if that happened tomorrow, the mark left by communism will take years be wiped away.

1 comment

  1. “They treat us like poor, badly educated cousins with funny accents

    And they aren’t? 😉 Poor show by the Southerners anyway.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: