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My trip to North Korea: 13 misconceptions corrected

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Soviet cogitations: 10737
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 21 Dec 2004, 23:53
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Philosophized
Post 04 Jun 2014, 05:11
Liberation News wrote:
My trip to North Korea: 13 misconceptions corrected
Western media is full of false reporting
By Marcel Cartier
APRIL 21, 2014

FULL ARTICLE

I had the unique opportunity to spend several days in three different parts of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, more commonly just referred to as “North” Korea. This was an exceptionally life-changing experience that challenged many of the pre-conceptions that myself and fellow western visitors who accompanied me from Beijing had going in. Here are some things about North Korea that may surprise you, as many of them surprised me, as well.

1. Americans Are Not Hated, But Welcomed
2. Customs and Border Patrol Were A Smooth, Easy Experience
3. Pyongyang Is Beautiful, Clean and Colourful
4. Kim Jong Un Haircuts Are Practically Non-Existent
5. North Koreans Laugh, Smile and Joke – A Lot
6. Monolithic Ideology Does Not Mean Monolithic Personality
7. People are incredibly well dressed across the country
8. Children Begin To Learn English At the Age of 7
9. Tourism Will Be Boosted In The Near Future
10. Koreans Are Keen To Talk About The Country Candidly
11. Beer Is Considered A Soft Drink, Micro Breweries Are Popular
12. Most of the Tabloid Stories About the DPRK Are Utterly False
13. Koreans Will Not Hesitate To Make You Join In Their Fun

In short, I found the Korean people in the north to be some of the warmest, most authentic human beings I’ve ever had the chance to interact with. It would be silly to refer to the country as a “workers’ paradise” due to the depth of problems it faces. As in all societies, there are positive aspects and negative ones. However, considering that they have overcome centuries of imperial domination, the loss of about a quarter of their population in the Korean War, and continue to maintain their social system in the face of a continued state of war, they have done tremendously well. The accomplishments in free education through university, the non-existence of homelessness, and a proud and dignified people should be presented in order to gain a fuller, more nuanced picture of the country.

I must say that the way that the DPRK is portrayed in the western bourgeois media actually says a great deal more about the effectiveness of our propaganda apparatuses and brainwashing techniques than it does about theirs. The fact that I even have to write about the surprising things I witnessed in DPRK is evidence of the serious lack of understanding we have about the country. The problems facing Korea are never contexualized as they should be – as an oppressed nation aiming to free itself from servitude to big powers intent on gobbling up every remaining state free from a dying unipolarity.

Oh, and I almost forgot about nuclear weapons! Well, let’s consider if the North Korean military was holding military drills annually off the coast of New York that simulated the carpet bombing of Manhattan and the occupation of the entirety of the country, of which they already controlled the western half. Would it not be sensible given that context for Americans to develop a nuclear deterrent? The Koreans are not war hungry or even “obsessed” with the army or military. However, given the way that the situation in Libya played out, they are all the more convinced – rightfully so – that the only reason their independent state continues to stand is due to the Songun (“military first” policy) and the existence of nuclear capabilities. To be sure, they have no intention of using it unless put in that position to have to do so.

It is my sincere desire that there will be continued cultural and people-to-people exchanges in the near future between people from the DPRK and the western countries. Pretty much all of the people who traveled with me back to Beijing were in awe of just how different their experience was compared to what they had expected. They – like myself – gained a great deal from the humanizing experience of interacting with Koreans. Although westerners are relatively free to travel much more so than DPRK citizens, it’s ironic how the Koreans seemingly know a great deal more about us than we know about them. That will need to change in the years to come.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 29 Sep 2011, 13:51
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Post 04 Jun 2014, 05:17
I watched an Abby Martin interview with this guy a while back. It was right after he came back from his trip to the DPRK where he spoke the same stuff written in the article above. I myself am planning to take a trip to the DPRK within the next couple of years.
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My laws shall act more pleasure than command,
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 30 Aug 2008, 18:12
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Post 04 Jun 2014, 18:32
I went there myself a few years back and this article is largely true. Although there are a few things I think I should point out.

Pyongyang is a nice city but that's because it is the showcase capital. Koryo Tours (who I went with) pointed out that it is not representative of the rest of the DPRK, and driving through other areas, we could see that.

North Koreans smile and joke a lot when they know that foreigner visitors are watching them and expecting them to do such. More often than not they will just ignore you. A lot of the time large groups of "partying" North Koreans seemed to just appear from nowhere and have a great time. They will invite you to join in official dances and celebrations but they won't just try and strike up a conversation with you.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 18 Apr 2010, 04:44
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Philosophized
Post 04 Jun 2014, 20:49
I haven't been to DPRK, but the video I posted earlier in this section of the forum pretty much tells the tale - and from an officially sanctioned perspective at that. Anyone who says Pyongyang isn't the most grey and lifeless city (apart from an actual ghost town, many of which still retain a great deal more character and charm) they've ever seen is simply propagandizing for the regime.
Miss Strangelove: "You feed giants laxatives so goblins can mine their poop before the gnomes get to it."
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 30 Aug 2008, 18:12
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Post 04 Jun 2014, 21:51
Quote:
Anyone who says Pyongyang isn't the most grey and lifeless city (apart from an actual ghost town, many of which still retain a great deal more character and charm) they've ever seen is simply propagandizing for the regime.


It's certainly grey - a byproduct of putting up so many cheap apartment blocks - but I wouldn't call it lifeless. There's plenty of people doing normal things (working, commuting, leisure etc.). Even the North Korean regime can't just make millions of people do nothing all day everyday.

Another thing in the original article that the author might want to revise is his view on the quality of the buildings! Considering the recent apartment block collapse I think it is safe to say he is talking crap about that one (although probably out of willful ignorance).
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 29 Sep 2011, 13:51
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Post 13 Jul 2014, 18:37
I personally don't think that the lack of advertisements make for a dull or grey city. In the video Gulper posted, I actually thought that the city looked quite beautiful and I would bet that if you were to show it to anyone without first mentioning that it's Pyongyang first, it would take a while before most people guessed that it were a city in Korea let alone Asia.

I don't think that the video displays a dead city like Gulper suggests. It may not be alive as a thriving metropolis, but then again it still looks a lot better than most of the cities I've been to.
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My laws shall act more pleasure than command,
And with my prick I'll govern all the land.
Soviet cogitations: 12389
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 18 Apr 2010, 04:44
Ideology: None
Philosophized
Post 13 Jul 2014, 19:43
Yeqon wrote:
I personally don't think that the lack of advertisements make for a dull or grey city. In the video Gulper posted, I actually thought that the city looked quite beautiful and I would bet that if you were to show it to anyone without first mentioning that it's Pyongyang first, it would take a while before most people guessed that it were a city in Korea let alone Asia.

I don't think that the video displays a dead city like Gulper suggests. It may not be alive as a thriving metropolis, but then again it still looks a lot better than most of the cities I've been to.

You're entitled to your opinion, but I stand by mine. First of all, anywhere there's a thriving crowd of truly free people, there's going to be some littering, a bit of bragging and swearing, some loitering and roistering about, and quite a lot of cars on the road. Do people who feel they're truly free shuffle about like zombies on the pavement?

As for the city not looking "Korean" or "Asian", that's a rather damning pronouncement in itself, on several levels, don't you think?
Miss Strangelove: "You feed giants laxatives so goblins can mine their poop before the gnomes get to it."
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 29 Sep 2011, 13:51
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Post 13 Jul 2014, 21:24
Comrade Gulper wrote:


As for the city not looking "Korean" or "Asian", that's a rather damning pronouncement in itself, on several levels, don't you think?


I didn't mean it like that. When I first watched the video, the city's greenery and tranquility reminded me of my beloved Kiev in the early hours of the morning before the morning rush hour. All I meant was that nothing in the video apart from the noticeable Juche monuments really set the city apart from say a city in Europe in the early morning hours. I also didn't think that the people walked or looked anything like zombies. Other videos on YouTube show that the residents look and act very normal.

Even the lack of heavy traffic has a certain charm to it. It makes for a change from the constant honking and yelling of the daily rush-hour traffic jams. But like you said it's all a matter of opinion. Constantly being surrounded by too much people tends to give me a headache.
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My laws shall act more pleasure than command,
And with my prick I'll govern all the land.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 09 May 2008, 14:59
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Post 14 Jul 2014, 02:58
Comrade Gulper wrote:
First of all, anywhere there's a thriving crowd of truly free people, there's going to be some littering, a bit of bragging and swearing, some loitering and roistering about, and quite a lot of cars on the road


Now we know. Freedom of thought is represented by the number and density of assholes on the street.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 10 Sep 2006, 22:05
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Post 14 Jul 2014, 03:50
And having cars clogging up the fragging streets. Say what you will about the DPRK but at least they aren't contributing to the destruction of the planet via car culture.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 06 Dec 2009, 23:17
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Post 14 Jul 2014, 04:14
Well it's only because NK is so poor. Otherwise they still have perhaps one of the best highway systems of all ex-communist countries which, i guess, was built with people there actually being able to afford cars ( at some point in the future ) in mind. Nowadays peasants use it to dry grain. And from what i've seen the public transportation there ( even in the showcase Pyongyang ) isn't that much better either. Not that people are allowed to freely move around the country anyway.
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