Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Other Site of Korea

What's on your mind when you hear a word "KOREA"? Seoul, K-Pop, K-Drama and movies? I believe people will think about a country with good economy, modern living which is South Korea trademark. Even if you search about "Korea" in Google, all South Korea related pictures and websites appear in the first place. Do you ever think about the opposite of those mentioned above? Poor economy, hunger, isolated country and communism? If your answer is "yes", you belong to that very small people in the world who think about the other site of Korea.

Me, myself think about South Korea when I hear the word "Korea". North Korea was almost never come into my mind. I never searched anything about it, never knew what kind of country it is, how their people live and so on. Until last week I searched Google map and I found this

cre : Google map

North Korea is a big white country with the only city listed : Pyongyang. A question came into my mind, how come this country appear like this? Even Google is not able to map it (which is I found out later : not allowed).

My curiosity began at this point and I started to search about this country. The more I browse, the more unbelievable facts I found. Later on, I searched for people's blogs, pictures and videos who have been there before. One of my friend knew that I was searching for North Korea related stories and she recommended me to read a book "Nothing to Envy" by Barbara Demick. I read the blogs, book and watched the videos with jaw drops.

In this 21th century, there's a country that still isolated itself from the outside world. Cellphone and internet are forbidden in North Korea (maybe not for the government but who knows). It is also forbidden for their people to have their own passport. Foreign tourists allowed to visit DPRK only in a group tour. They always accompanied by 2 or 3 guides (a.k.a watcher). The guides jobs are to be their travel guide of course plus to prevent the tourists to make a direct contact or conversation with DPRK local people or take pictures of them which is also prohibited.

Bad economy and hunger are still in DPRK people daily life. Since the communism and propaganda are still very strong, most of the people have no religion and praise their Great Leader Kim Il Sung and Dear Leader Kim Jong Il as their god. Kim Il Sung statues is all over North Korea (approximately 34000 statues). People are still give a bunch of flowers and bows in front of Kim Il Sung's statues to respect their Eternal President until today. Even foreign tourists who make a visit to DPRK also "asked" to do the same thing by the guides. Since the statues are so many, you can imagine how many flowers needed to give respect to The Great Leader. Maybe florist is the perfect job for living in North Korea. 

Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il pictures are also everywhere to be found, in the office, in the classroom, even in the MRT. Pictures of smile Kim Il Sung also everywhere to be found in street sides, MRT station, school, practically everywhere. Some songs and poems are composed to praise Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.
Picture of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il is everywhere to be found
cre : The Journal
The propaganda was already engaged to the people since they were a child. It was said that there's a song called "We Have Nothing to Envy The World' as the DPRK version of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star". The children in kindergarten start their school day by sing this song. Here's the lyric : 
Our father, we have nothing to envy the world
Our house is within the embrace of the Workers' party
We all are brothers and sisters
Even if a sea of fire comes towards us, sweet children do not need to be afraid
Our father is here
We have nothing to envy in this world
The father in the song of course refers to Kim Il sung / Kim Jong Il. What can they do when the sea of fire comes towards DPRK anyway?

Kim Il Sung established his own political thesis, the Juche idea. Instead of use the common calendar, DPRK has their own calendar counting from 1912, the year Kim Il Sung was born. For example it's 2011, but in DPRK it called Juche 188. Thanks to Juche idea, DPRK stated to be the greatest country in the world. Their flag is the highest among other countries' flag, their Arc de Triomphe is 11 meters higher than the one in France. If they're not in such bad economy condition, maybe they'll build Kim Il Sung statue higher and bigger than Statue of Liberty. Kim Il Sung birth was also the greatest one. It was reported marked by double rainbow and a bright star in the sky. When I read this, I was wondering whether he was born in the afternoon or at night. Bright star can only be seen at night, while rainbow can only be seen in the afternoon, or maybe it was so special so a bright star can be seen in the afternoon or rainbow can be seen at night. Nobody knows.

The propaganda was so strong. They have their own version of history about Korea War. It was said that Kim Il Sung single leader of DPRK army beat Japan soldier from their land, but the truth was China helped them but never mentioned in their history. DPRK people also believe when Kim Jong Il made a visit to DMZ area, he put out fog so the enemies (US and South Korea soldiers) can't see him. 

Kim Il Sung propaganda also can be seen in the day he died back in 1994. The people was so mourn and so sad till lead them to depression and many of them committed suicide due to this situation. Some are hung themselves, jumped from a high building and even starved themselves to death. Like the other communist leader Lenin, Stalin and Mao Ze Dong, Kim Il Sung body was also embalmed. Eventhough he died 17 years ago, nowadays DPRK people are still crying beside his emblamed body, mourning his death. Here's a video from DPRK TV news back on the day Kim Il Sung died (cre : StalinLeninMao). Talking about DPRK TV channels, there are only 2 channels and of course those 2 channels always tell about The Great Leader and Dear Leader or  play some propaganda songs.

Due to their bad economy condition, until today food shortage and lack electricity are still coloring DPRK daily life. USA, China and South Korea are their main international food aid. For the lacking of electricity, it was stated that at night the whole city of Pyongyang is almost dark, only the buildings and statues related to Kim Il Sung have enough (or more) electricity. So here's a satellite picture of North Korea at night

cre : NASA

I really can't imagine how to live in such country. North Korea is a total opposite from her brother (or cousin?) South Korea. I never visit North Korea myself (yet maybe), but if you ever interested to take a tour to North Korea, the only way is from Beijing. There are some tours provided North Korea Tour, you can Google them.

Now when I hear "Korea", this picture appear in my mind in 0,0000000000000001 second

Smiling Kim Il Sung
cre : everywhere
I guess I'm overdose.


Anonymous said...

waw, interesting article sis :), I can't imagine how can north korea being so isolated, whereas their big brother Russia and China are not as isolated as North Korea, I hope one day, world can be peaceful with open mind and sharing from all people in the world, whatever their ideology,religion, or origin state :)

Christine said...

Hi.. Thanks for liking it.
I think she'll open to the modern world sooner or later just like China and Russia :)

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