Saturday, June 13, 2015

North Korea

There are two countries in the world that include the name Korea. Can you guess from the name which one is which?

The Republic of Korea

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

Who really knows? Though usually the more despotic and autocratic a country is, the more its leaders like to include positive public relations terminologies in the naming of the land. But still, who really knows? Like Japan before the Americans forced them in the latter years of the 19th century, like Albania before the fall of Communism, North Korea is surrounded not by an iron curtain but by one made of solid granite, and other than a retired American basketball player who seems to be a friend of the current leader, plus dissidents who have fled to the south and the occasional spy or journalist who manages to get in, much of what we think we know is speculation. We definitely know that it was run by Kim Il-sung for forty years after World War Two, and that his son is now in charge. We definitely know that everything in the country is firmly under the control of the leadership and that the word "opposition" is reserved exclusively for basketball coaches. We definitely know that it has nuclear ambitions, because in 2006 it announced the successful testing of a nuclear weapon, in 2009 it walked out of international talks that hoped to put fences around this aspiration, and in 2014, after suspending the process in order to con the Americans into providing food-aid, it test-fired two more of its Nodong missiles to see how well they worked; they worked extremely well. We definitely know that North and South Korea are still technically at war, that they are separated by a demilitarised zone, and that attempts at rapprochement have thus far failed.  We think we know that maybe up to two million people have possibly died of what could have been unnatural causes in the last five or perhaps ten years, and that these causes may have been starvation consequent upon shortages, straightforward corruption and sheer incompetence having the same effect, other natural disasters, or through the actions of the police and military in their role as keepers of law and order. The CIA World Factbook describes internal North Korea as having "molded political, economic, and military policies around the core ideological objective of eventual unification of Korea under Pyongyang's control", and this is very probably accurate, only we don't really know.

Korea, incidentally, is a bad western pronunciation of Goryeo, a name of much ancientness, and it is the North which operates under the sobriquet Democratic People's Republic. The country has the most beautiful official website,, headlined with the statement that "The DPRK is the Juche-oriented socialist state which embodies the idea and leadership of Comrade Kim Il Sung, the founder of the Republic and the father of socialist Korea." I am not certain how Juche is pronounced, but I tend towards the German when words began with a J, and "u" as in "umbrella" seems fairly compelling, with the "ch" as in "loch" rather than, say, "church", and the "e" most likely aspirated. "Yucky" would be a good way to write phonetically. 

The same homepage also tells us that "the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is a genuine workers' state in which all the people are completely liberated from exploitation and oppression. The workers, peasants, soldiers and intellectuals are the true masters of their destiny and are in a unique position to defend their interests." 

Wouldn't it be wonderful if this turned out to be true, and the western anti-propaganda all a lie; and then this paradisal realm could serve as a role-model for the rest of humanity, and MacDonalds and Walmart might be forced by popular pressure to change their employment strategies. You simply have to take a look at this website, if only for the gorgeous picture of the glorious leader surrounded by his adoring acolytes.

Marks for: 24.9 (the number of million people in this country)

Marks against: 12.38 (the amount of GDP in dollars that doesn't reach those 24.9 million people)

Copyright © 2015 David Prashker
All rights reserved
The Argaman Press

No comments:

Post a Comment