Information on North Korea

4 posts


Inspired by a conversation in the shoutbox, I would like to start a thread on North Korea. Please post any resources, articles or documentaries you might have on this strange country. Here is my contribution, a National Geographic special from a few years ago.

Explorer: Inside North Korea


In a nutshell: Basically, this humanitarian eye doctor from Nepal gets permission to travel to Pyongyang to do cataract surgery for hundreds of people who need it, pro bono. Film footage from that trip is the basis of this documentary. You see the destitution of the most "advanced" city in North Korea, the capital Pyongyang. Cataracts are prevalent in North Korea; malnutrition, which is widespread, contributes to them; the North Korean medical profession has neither the resources nor the knowledge to treat cataracts. Therefore, many people in NK walk around blind in one or both eyes, and have been walking around blind, for years. This doctor from Nepal comes in and he and his team do about a thousand surgeries in a week. About a week later, they take off all the bandages, wrapped around the patients' heads, in a big auditorium. The surgeries, which are routine for this Napalese doc and were completed in minutes each, are successful. People who have not seen their family members or anything else, for years, find themselves suddenly able to see. Do you think they spend one second bothering to thank the kind-hearted doctor for bringing this treatment to him? Absolutely not; they walk right past the doctor, prostrate themselves before a large image of the Great Leader in the front of the hall, and swear an undying allegiance to Kim Il Sung. It was stunning. If I had not seen this footage with my own eyes, I would have dismissed the account as exaggerated. But see it for yourself.

From National Geographic :

Thomas777 niccolo and donkey Angocachi
Niccolo and Donkey

The video that I embedded is a slightly different version than the one I recall seeing in 2007 or 2008, but it's close enough.

Forgot this flag: Theo


B.R. Myers, in The Cleanest Race, claims the following:

The number of North Korean refugees currently in China (estimated by the U.S. State Department as 30-50,000 and by NGOs as an order of magnitude higher), or even at the peak of the 1990s famine (several hundreds of thousands), indicates that the DPRK has been more successful at retaining its populace than either late Chosun Korea or the Japanese administration -- proportionally and perhaps also even in absolute terms. In 1897, a few decades after the famines of the 1860s and 1870s, the number of Koreans in the region immediately north of the Yalu River was estimated at 37,000; by 1908, another 30,000 were reported further east, across the Tumen River; the number increased markedly after by the early 1920s, to half a million throughout Manchuria (from here ).

It's worth mentioning that the supposedly pervasive maltreatment of DPRK refugees deported from the PRC, held up in foreign media as testament to the state's aberrance, is in no sense historically unprecedented. Prior to the breakdown of Manchu injunctions against migration of other ethnie into their homeland, it was the Chosun government's policy to execute convicted Korean immigrants repatriated to them by the Qing.