Truth about North Korea doesn’t rest with the west
When news of Kim Jong-il’s death was made public, there was a cheer around the world. Finally, the world had been rid of another tyrant, another evil dictator who was hated by many global citizens. However, I am not sure that this is the logical conclusion. Our lack of understanding about virtually every aspect of life in North Korea leads me to suggest that we have no place to criticize the country.
At this point, I am sure many people have already written this off as a sympathy bid for a communist country. Let me assure you, it is not.
Since 1953, there have been fewer than 2,500 Americans who have visited the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). Despite this, America, as well as virtually all western nations, holds the belief that they understand North Korea in its entirety.
While it is true that it was very difficult at one point to enter North Korea, these restrictions have been removed for years. Despite this, western media chooses to remain ignorant of the country’s situation, drastically oversimplifying the circumstances, akin to that of Cold War propaganda.
Watching the news, some suggest that the footage of weeping citizens is fake or at least manipulated. These sources suggest that the North Korean population actually despise their leader and their country and that the mourning is simply a result of coercion.
This, however, is an oversimplification. It is entirely possible and even likely, that a percentage of North Korean citizens loathe the political structure. It is impossible to say that all citizens feel this way, despite the fact that the media portrays it as a fundamentally repressed group of people who could not possibly like anything about their leader.
While this may seem as though I am not faulting North Korea, I do not deny that there are numerous problems. The adoption of the Songun policy, a military-first policy, has had a negative effect on some of the population. Unfortunately, this extreme policy has become a necessity, particularly due to the growth of hostility of both South Korea and the United States.
Here we also see the inherent bias in western media. We consistently view reports on North Korea as being an aggressor, however this is not the case. In the past decade, the DPRK has made several concessions regarding nuclear weapons. Additionally, less than a year ago North Korea attempted to resume talks with the South. Despite this, the media has already established North Korea as the antagonist, and subsequently portray them as such.
The prime example of this is the shelling of Yeongpyong Island. While North Korea was guilty of this act, few sources mention the fact that South Korea typically bombs the shores very close to North Korea. While this event is portrayed as an attack, it would be more appropriate to frame it as a defensive measure. Again, this highlights the enormous bias in western representation of the nation.
Head of the Center for Research on Globalization, Michel Chossudovsky, suggests that North Korea is more a victim than a threat. He goes on to argue that North Korea has been portrayed as a country which is threatening to global security, but that there is no actual evidence to support this fact. He also points to the fact that North Korea has been a victim of the United States in the physical sense, as the Korean War resulted in the deaths of nearly a quarter of the North Korean population.
Similar to Lenin and Stalin in the Soviet Union, Kim Jong-il could be the victim of western media portrayal. Likewise, he was regarded as a god amongst men, a genuine “Dear Leader.”
All of these leaders have been portrayed as maniacs that are willing to end the world at any second. Additionally, the media portrays the citizens as a group that was united in their hatred of their leader. In the same manner as we found that there was a genuine love of Lenin and Stalin, we will likely learn the same of North Korea.
So what can one conclude from this? Firstly, the fact that we know so little about North Korea makes it virtually impossible to have a complete understanding of the country, politically, economically and socially.
Secondly, as a result of this lack of understanding, the west has been allowed to draw unsubstantiated conclusions and as a result, villainized a relatively innocent nation simply because they live in a communist nation. North Korea hasn’t been the victim of communism; they have been the victim of America’s hatred of communism.