Books, Television

North Korea Fascinates Me

North Korea is a crazy place.  I recently learned that the 3 generation regime in North Korea has killed more people than Hitler and Stalin combined.  That’s a lot of misery.  I am so sad and disappointed that there is no solution that can immediately end the misery of millions of North Koreans.  This PBS video linked to above shows a bit of that misery.  The HBO editorial news show Vice had a great episode about a visit to the “hermit nation.” Last year I read Adam Johnson’s excellent novelization of aspects of what we know about the lives of everyday North Koreans titled The Orphan Master’s Son.  This book won the Pulitzer Prize.  Perhaps the only way that I can try to get in touch with this issue is to continue to learn about it.  I do hear some hope in this PBS documentary, particularly the bit about cell phones flowing into the country.  But if North Korea’s government were to change tomorrow, it would be a herculean task to bring the country into the 20th century, let alone the 21st.  Young people’s education consists of memorizing the speeches of the regime’s potentates, learning about how foreign powers want to kill them, and make Texas’s insane propagandized textbooks seem a beacon of truth.  I happened to meet Adam Johnson at a book event about a year ago, and he was a fascinating speaker.  One of the books he recommended on this topic is The Aquariums of Pyongyang.  I am going to take his advice finally, I think.

I don’t think I would ever agree to go to North Korea, even if I had an all-expenses paid trip paid for by Bob Barker from Showcase #2.  There is, of course, the danger of being in the country and falling afoul of the security state.  But what I’m more concerned about is supporting such a terrible dictatorship.  Bringing my foreign currency in and turning it over to the security state isn’t exactly what I have in mind for vacation.  I can’t help but imagine that it would go to support the misery and the gulags and the torture.

Can you teach me something about North Korea? If so, please comment below!