Informal Institute for National Security Thinkers and Practitioners - News from the Associate Director, Security Studies Program
Sunday, August 4, 2013
North Korea, a Land of Human Achievement, Love and Joy
I know no one will be able to make it through this entire propaganda piece without either spewing coffee on their computer screen or hitting the delete key so let me just highlight the very worst excerpts. (on the other hand the propagandist author does provide some interesting views of north Korea that may be of interest).
It was all a big mess, and a never-ending drama. A divided nation; millions of deaths. I saw it all in the city of Sinchon. The tunnels where the US troops massacred thousands of civilians during the war, old veterans and survivors of the massacres spoke; recalling those gruesome events.
In 1950, at the beginning of the war, the city of Sinch’ŏn was the site of a massacre of civilians by occupying U.S forces. The number of civilians killed over the 52-day period was allegedly over 35,000 people, the equivalent of a quarter of the city’s population at the time.
It all looked chillingly familiar. I used to photograph the craters left behind after the carpet bombings of Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. Brutality, brutality, brutality… Millions of faceless victims burned alive by napalm, ‘bomb-lets’ that explode decades later when children or water buffaloes are playing on the fields.
Ramsey Clark spoke about the horrors of the past, and about the brutality of the US actions. An old man, one of the survivors of the mass killings of civilians in the tunnels, spoke about horrors he witnessed as a child. The artwork in the local museum depicted the brutal torture and rape of Korean women by US troops, their bodies mutilated; with nipples penetrated by metal hooks.
And just for the record I do not consider the north Korean people as heartless, plastic androids. I know full well that responsibility for the failed economy, the starving north Korean people, the tens of thousands of north Koreans being worked to death in the gulags, and those who are publicly executed for trying to escape the horror of the regime lies squarely on the shoulders of the Kim Family Regime. I empathize and sympathize with the north Korean people and I am completely committed to preparing for the end of the Kim Family Regime so that unification can be achieved and all Korean people can live and thrive freely and in peace.
Then on July 26 I met, together with Ramsey Clark and few other delegates, Mr.Yang Hyong Sob, the Vice President of the Standing Committee of the Supreme People’s Committee. He looked like a very kind man, and I was given a chance to exchange some ideas with him. I explained that the best way to combat Western propaganda is to show to the world the faces of North Korean people.
“It is their common tactic”, I said. “They portray people of China, Cuba, Venezuela, Russia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Serbia, as heartless, as if they were some plastic androids. Then, subconsciously, compassion for the people of those nations vanishes from the hearts of the Western public.Suddenly it is fine to starve them, to bomb them, to murder thousands, even millions of those androids. But once the faces are shown, the Western public gets confused; many refuse to support mass murder.“
North Korea, a Land of Human Achievement, Love and Joy
North Korea Celebrates 60th Anniversary of Victory
As the plane – Russian-built Tupolev-204 – was taking off from Pyongyang Airport, I felt nothing, absolutely nothing. The morning fog was at first covering the runway, and then it began to lift. The engines roared. Right after the takeoff I could clearly distinguish green fields, neat villages and ribbons of ample and lazy rivers below the wing. It was undeniably a beautiful sight: melancholic, poetic, and truly dramatic. And yet I felt numb. I was feeling nothing, absolutely nothing.
Overhead monitors were beaming endless images of one parade after another, of endless celebrations and bombastic concerts. The volume was up, women and men on the screen were singing enthusiastically, soldiers were marching; roaring jets and helicopters were penetrating the blue sky. The conductor was waving his hands. The standing crowd was applauding. Emotions were brought to an absolute extreme; watering the eyes of the people, and omnipresent pride on their faces.
Suddenly I felt empty, scared of something.
After seeing more than 150 countries, all over the world, after covering wars and conflicts, some of unimaginable intensity and brutality, I was suddenly longing for some rest, even for total silence.
60 years ago North Korea won the war. But some 4 million people died many of them, civilians. Maybe it was more than 4 million, nobody knows exactly. The capital city Pyongyang was totally leveled to the ground. I did not want to hear loud music and long speeches. I wanted to pay tribute to those who lost their lives, by sitting quietly by the river covered by mist, listening to the tall grass. But during my 8 days in North Korea, I had very few moments of silence, almost no opportunity to reflect.
What have I seen in those 8 days in DPRK – in North Korea? I saw an enormous futuristic city, Pyongyang, the capital, built from the ashes. I saw enormous theatres and stadiums, a metro system deep below the ground (public transportation doubling as nuclear shelter, in case the city came under attack). I saw trolley buses and double-decker buses, wide avenues, unimaginably ample sidewalks, roller-skating rinks and playgrounds for children.
Statues and monuments were everywhere. The size of some boulevards and buildings were simply overwhelming. For more than a decade I lived in Manhattan, but this was very different grandeur. New York was growing towards the sky, while Pyongyang consisted of tremendous open spaces and massive eclectic buildings.
Outside the capital I saw green fields, and farmers walking home deep in the countryside. Clearly, there was no malnutrition among children, and despite the embargo, everyone was decently dressed.
I saw packed squares, with tens of thousands of people shouting slogans from the top of their lungs. I saw thousands of women in colorful traditional dresses waving their flags and ribbons, cheering when the command was given, welcoming us – international delegates. Marching next to me for peace, was a former US Attorney General, Ramsey Clark, and at my other side, the leader of one of the Indian Communist Parties. There were human rights lawyers from the United States and from all over the world, Turkish revolutionaries, and, for hard to understand reasons, several heads of the Ugandan military.
But I did not come here to march. I came here to film and to photograph, to see the faces of local people, to read what was written on those faces, to feel, to sense, and to try to understand.