Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The agony that is North Korea, Part 2...

If you need triangulation on what North Korea is about read this:

In February 2002, I traveled to Pyongyang in an effort to locate my uncle. I never found him, but I spent about a week with the Workers' Party leaders, ranging from the chairman of the Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries to the then-ambassador to the Permanent Mission to the U.N., who repeatedly told me that their real enemy was not South Korea, with whom they are still technically at war, but the U.S., which, along with the Soviet Union, had drawn up the 38th Parallel in 1948 and perpetuated the war by isolating them through sanctions. They were mystified as to why the United States was allowed to have nuclear weapons when it was the only nation in history to have deployed them on civilians, never mind starting wars all over the world.

My most vivid impression of Pyongyang was that an entire generation must have been eradicated for such a place to exist. Nothing on their empty, energy-deprived streets indicated that anything prior existed. Every book, piece of artwork and building was either made by the Great Leader or about the Great Leader. Their only official newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, was four pages long and consisted almost exclusively of praise for their Great Leader. Their state-controlled TV showed mostly undated footage of the Great Leader. Everywhere I went, music played in the background and the subject of the lyrics was inevitably the Great Leader. [More]

Like Hitler's demonstrations at Nuremberg, the NK miliary can definitely put on a show. But if you have never tried marching in goose-step, you may be in for a shock.
"(The goose-stepping) says that here we can train all these men to do something that is completely unnatural," says author David Schimmelpenninck, who chairs Brock University's history department. "When you see men goose-stepping, that is much more ominous and much more impressive in a perverse sort of way than when you see men marching as they normally would in most NATO armies. [More]
It is also physically exhausting.

North Korea is strange and far away, but worst of all is the feeling that we have squandered our resources in Iraq, leaving us with almost no options.

The feeling may be accurate.

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