Tuesday, April 16, 2013

On North Korea

Before yesterday's bombing in Boston, the world's attention was riveted on North Korea. Our local NPR station plays BBC Newshour in the mornings, so I got to hear this fantastic piece about North Korean refugees. I'm always fascinated to hear about NK adults who, for various reasons, flee the country and suddenly are shocked to find their entire realities in North Korea were all fabricated-- lies and propaganda. It takes months and years of therapy to recover. The stories of physical hardship suffered by women fleeing to China and basically being sold into slavery is also a bit disturbing.

There are a few refugees who became Christians in South Korea and they talk of replacing worship of Kim Jong-il with worship of the real God. They mention some of the underground churches in North Korea, and I wonder what it must be like for them. What must it be like for a child in those houses to read in the Bible about a world outside their country, to have faith that those people and places were real even when their schools and government say they were not?

The show reminded me of a couple good North Korean pieces I've read in the last couple years, and I share them here for your own reading fulfillment.

The first is from the Feb. 24, 2011 edition of The Atlantic "North Korea's Digital Underground." It discusses networks of people who smuggle in media content via thumb drives and smuggle out intelligence and footage.  It interviews broadcasters who beam in anti-regime radio broadcasts but have no knowledge if anyone has ever heard them.

Another is from Dec. 18, 2011 penned by "Kenji Fujimoto," who worked for years as Kim Jong-il's chef, while becoming his friend and adviser, and published a memoir about it. "I was Kim Jong-Il's Cook" details the late dictator's eccentricities and sexual perversions. Fujimoto was apparently a helpful source of intelligence to the West.

I would very much like to read Escape from Camp 14 or Nothing to Envy.

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