Skip to comments.Book review: Nothing to Envy: Real Lives in North Korea
Posted on 02/27/2010 8:21:20 PM PST by Saije
IT IS not sufficient to describe North Korea as a totalitarian dictatorship. Totalitarian dictatorships normally manage to keep the lights on.
North Korea might be better understood as another kind of polity. It is an incompetent hereditary autocracy flavoured with Confucianism, that most hierarchical of eastern philosophies. Or you could cut to the chase and call it a basket case of a country wholly owned by a family of venal frauds.
Running a tyrannical absolute monarchy in the 21st century is not easy. People generally have greater expectations. They might be prepared to tolerate slum housing, slave labour, thought police and no internet, but they usually expect to eat. Kim Il-Sung and his fat little playboy heir have got away with starving their people by limiting their vision as well as their diet.***
The Kims achieved that feat of propaganda because of their hermetically sealed borders, because of the touching patriotism of their people and because of the paranoia they were able to breed following the Korean War of 50 years ago. North Korea has been on a war footing ever since.
That same paranoia, those same closed borders, the police state and the absence of modern communications (the absence of any communications: you'd have trouble sending a messenger pigeon from Pyongyang to Seoul) make it as difficult for outsiders to report from North Korea as it is for North Koreans to receive reports from outside. Writing a properly researched book on the place seems next to impossible. But in Nothing to Envy, Barbara Demick has done it.
(Excerpt) Read more at news.scotsman.com ...
North Korea ping.
Ah, just one problem. The Korean War was 60 years ago(1950-53) not 50.
My tainted poop meter went off after I read that piece of claptrap. "We" did NOT partition Korea after World War 2. "WE" meaning the USA and Russia agreed to accept the surrender of the Japanese army on the Korean peninsula. The Russians would accept the surrender of Japanese forces north of the 38th parallel and the United States would accept surrendering troops south of the 38th parallel. That was it. . IT WAS NOT AN AGREEMENT TO PARTITION THE COUNTRY. What the Russki's did after receiving the surrender of Japanese troops is the began to set up a communist regime centered in Pyongyang and established Kim Il Sung (trained in Moscow)as dictator before national elections could be held. THAT'S HOW IT WENT DOWN PEOPLE!
The Cleanest Race
What emerges is a regime completely unlike the Wests perception of it neither a bastion of Stalinism nor a Confucian patriarchy, but a paranoid nationalist, military-first state on the far right of the political spectrum. Given that North Korea is now calling for a blood reckoning with the Yankee jackals, Myers unprecedented analysis could not be more timely.
“...The Kims achieved that feat of propaganda because of their hermetically sealed borders, because of the touching patriotism of their people and because of the paranoia they were able to breed following the Korean War of 50 years ago....”
He forgot to mention that they also have China to keep them on life-support, because they want a pliant, anti-Japanese and anti-American Gov’t on their border.
From what I have understood, North Korea is a giant gulag, literally a prison country. I have seen stories about children, who were tortured horribly, born to prisoners within that country. These children are apparently treated worse than anything...one of them escaped through a mine field to south korea and told this story.
It seems to me that North Korea is quite literally Hell on Earth.
We have an anti-America government in Washington D.C. N. Korea is our last problem.
But we, the Allies, partitioned the country. The communist north then invaded the capitalist south. The consequent Korean War of 1950-3 devastated the country. Stalemate was achieved and partition was set in stone. And then the West forgot about Korea for another 40 years, until the nuclear ambitions of the North woke us up again.
Unfortunately the West and to an extent the US cannot escape the consequences of its colonization and empire building during the 19th Century. Korea was an independent kingdom until 1905 when Russia was defeated by Japan. Pres T Roosevelt helped negotiate the peace treaty. Korea was recognized to be a zone for Japanese influence and colonization and all Western powers will not compete to control it. Consequence is Japan annexed Korea in 1911 and had the last king arrested and poisoned. Russia always had an interest in controlling Korea in order to safeguard her control of Manchuria. If the US did not do treat Korea like a Third World nation to be traded amongst Western powers and Japan, Korea would have been an independent nation prior to WW2 or possibly an armed neutral (unlike Qin China, the Korean elites in the late 1800’s knew they needed to modernize like Japan to survive). Unfortunately Korea’s fate was decided by US, Japan and Russia.
Very interesting book. And scary as all hell.
We have an anti-America government in Washington D.C. N. Korea is our last problem.
Would a police state like N. Korea still exist if western democracies were not themselves infiltrated with leftists?
Who better helped keep the doomed Soviet Union alive well beyond its natural life-span than the communists who inhabited the British and American governments from FDR/Oxford Five periods through to Ted Kennedy, pen pal of Yuri Andropov—??
Alternatively, with just a little breathing room such as provided by Reagan, Thatcher, Jean Paul II, and over a relatively short period of time, presto! down come the walls.
Makes you wonder what the world would look like after, say, 40 years of conservative dominance in the democracies.
“on the far right of the political spectrum”
Yup, North Korea is really run by Christian conservatives of the far right TEA party bent.
What utter bilge. Anyone who doesn’t realize that North Korea is the ultimate goal of leftist philosophy (a) is a complete moron and (b) has never read Orwell’s 1984.
There are a series of three North Korean police procedurals (detective stories) written by James Church. The name is a pseudonym for a western intelligence officer who has spent time in Asia.
I have read all three. They are well written and give the uncanny feeling of being written by someone who knows what it is like to live there.
You can find the titles and review comments at Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/James-Church/e/B001I9U1RE/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1
The odds are that you can get them at your local library as a shelf copy, or at worst case as a free interlibrary loan.
Once Japan had defeated Russia, the only way to prevent Japan annexing Korea would have been for one or more western powers to annex it themselves or be willing to go to war to keep Korea independent.
This seems like a remarkably unrealistic expectation.
Korea’s fate was decided by its geography.
The odd thing about North Korea is that there is almost nothing that is identifiably Communist about the place. They use the language, but that’s about it.
NK is the only remaining true God-King monarchy in the world.
I guess you did not read the article?
(a)North Korea is the ultimate goal of leftist philosophy,now that is a moronic statement,NK has the same kind of gov as had Japan during the WW2 a god like ruler...
Notice i comment on what you wrote not a personal attack on you..
(b) have read 1984...
Just read a review of it yesterday in the Economist..
It is a interesting take...
“(a)North Korea is the ultimate goal of leftist philosophy,now that is a moronic statement,NK has the same kind of gov as had Japan during the WW2 a god like ruler...”
Um, no it isn’t moronic. The goal of leftism is total control of the population under the state, with them at the top. As Orwell said about oligarchical collectivism, “One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish a dictatorship.” North Korea is such a dictatorship only without the oligarchy part.
Now, many or even most leftists don’t see this. They are the “useful idiots.” But the ones who use leftist, socialist, marxist, and/or fascist ideas (which overlap in many cases) as a route to power certainly do, even if they all see themselves as the ones who end up on top. Of course, not all of them end up in charge thanks to purges, “nights of long knives,” etc., but that’s the goal. In fact, Orwell missed on his concept of oligarchical collectivism. As history shows, even that state is a fantasy and collectivism of any type inevitably devolves into a dicatorship. And again, for the intelligent leftist, that is the exact goal — with them as dictator.
“Notice i comment on what you wrote not a personal attack on you..”
Yup, I noticed. Probably should have been clearer in my first comment that it was directed at the quoted piece, not you...
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.