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DPRK Spanking, Live Broadcasts and the South Africa Irony

Commenter Hamel wrote:

Prediction: international media stories will focus on the national disgrace caused to North Korea by the 7 nil result, and then lead on (quite naturally) to discussions of the players’ fate when they return to Pyongyang – and perhaps IF they will return

Well, Hamel, from the Guardian:

The collapse in North Korea’s fortunes was all the more surprising after their ultra-defensive strategy had frustrated Brazil for so long in the opening fixture. After today’s match the players trooped silently back to the dressing room, heads down, and did not speak to reporters.

Perhaps fearful of the repercussions back home for his squad, North Korea’s manager, Kim Jong-hun, attempted to deflect blame on to himself. “As the coach, it was my fault for not playing the right strategy,” he said. “That is why we conceded so many goals.”

The Guardian story is actually slightly interesting, dealing as it does with the decision by North Korea to broadcast the game live:

Foreign residents in North Korea said the news of the live broadcast spread like wildfire. “This is significant,” said Simon Cockerell of Beijing-based Koryo Tours, which has organised several trips to the isolated nation.

“I have seen a lot of games in North Korea and they never show them live. I doubt there has been a letter-writing campaign, but they do seem receptive to the public desire to see live football.”

For what it’s worth, North Korea reportedly broadcast the entire slaughter, although the broadcast ended almost as soon as the game did, with no post-game commentary. Probably for the best really — don’t think the masses are ready to watch Jong “Hummer” Tae-se (see also here) do a post-game interview in stammering, highly accented Korean.

Anyway, a comment by Milton drew my attention to an irony I hadn’t really noticed till now, namely, we have North Korea playing in an international competition in South Africa, a nation that spent much of the apartheid era barred from international sporting competitions. Even hosting a South African team — for instance, the Springboks — for a tour was sure to spark massive protests or, as was the case in New Zealand in 1981, a virtual national uprising. Now, you have South Africa playing host to a team from a nation led by one of the worst — if not the worst — regimes of the post-war era, right after it just murdered 46 South Korean sailors, and nary a word is said (unless, of course, you’re a South Korean “progressive,” in which case you’re organizing cheering sessions).

Weird.

UPDATE: More on the live broadcast of the North Korea game, Kim Jong-il and what happens when you lose:

North Korea’s players were feted as heroes when they returned home last year after qualifying for the World Cup. The sport is North Korea’s most popular and has one exceptionally important fan: leader Kim Jong Il.

Kim, 68, used North Korea’s 1966 World Cup success as political capital in his campaign to take over leadership from his father, Kim Il Sung, according to Moon Ki-nam, a former national coach for North Korea who defected to South Korea in 2004.
[...]
[D]efectors, including the ex-North Korea coach, said poor play overseas has meant punishment at home, including being “purged” and sent to coal mines.

The North Korea coach insisted Sunday that no punishment would await the team if it failed to advance.

“Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose; it doesn’t always turn out the way you want. But there are going to be no further consequences,” he said.

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  • http://koreanamerican431.blogspot.com/ baduk

    As I wrote before, KJI was the reason for NK’s big defeat.
    http://news.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2010/06/23/2010062300152.html?Dep1=news&Dep2=headline1&Dep3=h1_02

    KJI is the f***up. He is the reason why so many NKs are dying of hunger. The little piece of s***.

  • cm

    We shouldn’t demonize the North Korean players. It’s the government that is evil, not the people of North Korea. They are the victims. The North Korean players are at distinct advantage because of their situation at home.

    Because of financial reasons, the North Korean team couldn’t even find a decent place to stay over in South Africa, their practice fields were poor quality, they played with soccer cleats that weren’t suitable for wet conditions (that’s all they had), and they ate North Korean style meals of corn gruel and noodles – not really different from the average poor South African. This team reminds me of the South Korean team of 1954. A Canadian reporter recently had a chance to talk to some of the North Korean players, and he was surprised how friendly they were. These are down to earth humble players – most don’t make any money playing their profession. Under the difficult circumstances that they’re playing under, they should be commended.

  • http://ghosttreemedia.com hoju_saram

    Agree with cm. Also, boycotting the NK team wouldn’t have the same effect as the South African boycott. South Africa didn’t have blanket media censorship, so the boycott went straight to the people – white and black. Also, the Springbok team was directly complicit in apartheid. The Nork players shouldn’t be blamed or punished.

    The only thing that would happen in the case of a North Korean boycott would be that the Nork regime would simply tell the populace that they hadn’t qualified, or that they were victims of a western conspiracy. It would have no discernable effect on the regime itself, which I think would be the main reason for the boycott in the first place.

  • hamel

    cm said:

    We shouldn’t demonize the North Korean players. It’s the government that is evil, not the people of North Korea. They are the victims. The North Korean players are at distinct advantage because of their situation at home.

    I used to think so uncondtionally as well. Until Brian R Myers pointed out to me that North Koreans are actually complicit in the maintenance of their regime. They are not poor mindless troglodytes. If they were all innocent, we would expect to see more mass defections (say, of individual military units at the conscript level), or more defections of conscience (most defectors are driven by economic necessity, rather than unbelief in the system) or a major uprising against their regime in some significant way.

    We think it is fear that keeps the regime going. But while there is fear, what is stronger is a belief in the ideology – ethno nationalism and the purity of the (north) Korean race: us against the world.

    So while I certainly wished the NK players well, and I do fear for their safety upon their return to NK, my sympathy can only extend so far, because, to adapt the old adage that “all it takes for evil to flourish is for good men (and women) to do nothing”, I would say that in North Korea, good men and women have been doing nothing for so long that this ridiculous, mock-worthy regime is still alive.

  • Hamilton

    CM, You are wrong. You are applying the wrong standard to the NK team. They eat crap food and have less than Olympic playing fields which you miss-assume attribute as a reason for sympathy.
    They are part of the NK elite. They more than most NK citizens know what is going on in North Korea and they willingly support it. Outside of China and Cuba no other sport team receives that much support for their value to the state without severe control.
    They are part of the state propaganda machine to keep the populace in its place. Any victory is to be exploited as a victory or affirmation of KJI. Any defeat exploited as affirmation of the corruption or injustice of the West. Some of them are also clearly fanatics or psychopaths as evidenced by the tears streaming down faces during the playing of the national anthem. None of them are not privileged enough not to know what KJI and his cohorts are doing to the people. They either don’t care or approve.
    Is there a Forest Gump amongst them? Possibly there is one, but just as likely one as none. The rest are scum. Not that they don’t rightly fear for their lives as all north Koreans do.
    Just to cook your noogle a bit. Where was the sympathy for anyone who worked for President George Bush? Where was the benefit of doubt for any act small or large. The burden of proof was always struck at the end of a pole arm and poo pooed away when provided and gloated over when not provided? Even if continued without complaints by the current president.
    Why do the minions of KJI get a bye? Logic folds in on itself.

  • cm

    “Some of them are also clearly fanatics or psychopaths as evidenced by the tears streaming down faces during the playing of the national anthem.”

    That would be Jeong Dae Sae. He’s a Zainichi, born and raised in Japan, he has never lived in North Korea, nor has any desire to. He explained later why he cried, and it wasn’t because of pride in North Korea.

  • hamel

    He explained later why he cried, and it wasn’t because of pride in North Korea.

    Genuine question: what was he crying about then? (Not that grown men shouldn’t cry – I am quite the sook myself.) I thought I read that it was because of pride in NK. Can you tell me what it really was?

    Also to Hamilton: good point. These are the elite of the elite. Well fed, well trained, allowed to travel overseas? Oh yes.

  • cm

    He said he was so happy to be there, that he finally arrived to fulfill his goal, and play with all the world’s players.

    Some South Korean media surmised that he cried out for the pride of the Zainichi. Many Zainichi don’t think neither North and South Korea, nor Japan are their country.

  • hamel

    As I understand it from reading a chapter on Zainichi in a book on Japanese society, there are several (at least 4) segments among Zainichis. They range from fully assimilated Japanese to card carrying North Korean communists and everythign in between.

    If “Many Zainichi don’t think neither North and South Korea, nor Japan are their country,” are they like the Romany?

  • milton

    Hamel and Hamilton hit the bulls-eye dead on. There’s really nothing else I can add in that regard. To those who are calling for sympathy because they couldn’t afford shoes or a decent meal, let me ask this: whose fault is that? Obviously, it’s the regime they choose to support and represent in international soccer tournaments who put them in such a crappy position. The fact that they continue to live in the North and abide by its rules and ideology means they tacitly agree to the regime’s legitimacy. No sympathy from this end.

    I think there are a couple of reasons why we Westerners do mental gymnastics when it comes to the North Koreans, but had moral clarity when it came to South Africa or Nazi Germany. Here’s some speculation.

    1) Perceptions of lack of agency: Either due to Asian stereotypes about group-think or misperceptions about the North Koreans as completely brainwashed agent-less actors, we tend to think North Koreans aren’t capable of making informed choices and aren’t in control of their destiny. As Hamel pointed out, the opposite is quite true, and it’s even truer in the case of the soccer team. Again, as Hamel pointed out, NK defections for political reasons are fairly rare. During the Cold War era, East European and Soviet defectors were a dime-a-dozen. If most North Koreans really hated their regime, we would expect more defections and we would expect those who had defected to have very negative perceptions of the regime. This is not the case.

    2) Inability to ascribe racist sentiment to a non-white people: Westerners, due to a sense of historical guilt over colonialism and slavery, had no problem attacking white South Africans for their racism, but when it comes to North Korea, an Asian state, we tend to look the other way. I’ve said this point before on this blog, and I apologize because I have forgotten from whom I stole this idea (I think it was B.R. Myers).

    3) Class-cleansing vs. ethnic cleansing: The North Korean genocide is a class-based genocide; it’s not ethnic-group-on-ethnic-group as was the case in the Holocaust, Bosnia, or Darfur. Again, for the same reasons in number 2, we tend to pay more attention to inter-ethnic conflict and downplay class-based conflict. See: the recent Kyrgyz-on-Uzbek fighting in Osh in which Western reporters seem almost relieved to say that the recent outbreak of internecine fighting had more to do with economics than ethnicity (of course, in real life, it’s much more complicated than that).

    4) Lack of knowledge of about North Korea: Let’s face it: NK is not a hot topic. You’d be hard pressed to find a North Korean studies program outside of a Korean university and the number of professional NK watchers can be counted on one hand. In the entire English-speaking blogosphere there are only three blogs that deal with NK. Even the American government is dangerously understaffed and misinformed in this area. People just don’t understand what’s happening there.

  • milton

    That would be Jeong Dae Sae. He’s a Zainichi, born and raised in Japan, he has never lived in North Korea, nor has any desire to. He explained later why he cried, and it wasn’t because of pride in North Korea.

    I have no sympathy whatsoever for Jeong Dae-sae, An Yeong-hak and all of the Zainichi Koreans who are members and supporters of Chongryon. They live in a free society where they have access to all the information and facts they could ever want. And yet, they continue to support and fund the 21st century’s most horrific regime. They are no different from American members of the KKK or the supporters of the Nazi party. There is not a smidgen of difference to be found.

  • http://www.sperwerslog.com Sperwer

    If “Many Zainichi don’t think neither North and South Korea, nor Japan are their country,” are they like the Romany?

    They are profoundly deracinated and deeply confused – in the case of the younger generations, through no fault of their own

  • keius

    @hamel,
    defections aren’t so easy to come by. Only the most “supposedly” loyal are in positions where they might get a chance to defect. The problem isn’t with themselves. It’s with one of KJI’s control mechanisms, the family structure. Let’s assume one of the soccer players defects. What happens to his entire extended family. They either end up dead or wishing they were. It isn’t easy to consign their families to such a fate. Those who defect know what they are doing to their families. Can you imagine the guilt that they have to live with?

  • milton

    Only the most “supposedly” loyal are in positions where they might get a chance to defect.

    This is actually not true. If you read defector testimony, many of them claim to be ordinary people: factory workers, low-level managers, farm workers, etc. Most tend to come from the border provinces, where it is easier to defect, but these days all it takes is some money saved up to bribe the police and border guards. With the rise of private markets, many people (pre-currency reform days) could scrounge up enough to make it out. See for instance, Barbara Demik’s Nothing to Envy.

    It’s with one of KJI’s control mechanisms, the family structure. Let’s assume one of the soccer players defects. What happens to his entire extended family. They either end up dead or wishing they were. It isn’t easy to consign their families to such a fate.

    This is certainly true, but it doesn’t explain why we don’t see many political refugees, nor does it explain why defectors still have positive feelings towards the North. Similar (though not as barbarous) control mechanisms were in place in Eastern Europe and the USSR, but we still saw plenty of defectors of conscious. I think a more salient explanation (supported by defector testimony and surveys) is that most North Koreans are loyal regime supporters. Defectors leave because they need a job, not because they find the political environment unbearable.

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    cm — All perhaps true, although the same, of course, could probably be said of the South African rugby teams. OK, maybe they didn’t eat noodles and gruel, but I’m sure they were a bunch of lovely blokes who played for a nation whose socio-political structure the world found objectionable.

    Hoju_saram:

    Agree with cm. Also, boycotting the NK team wouldn’t have the same effect as the South African boycott. South Africa didn’t have blanket media censorship, so the boycott went straight to the people – white and black. Also, the Springbok team was directly complicit in apartheid. The Nork players shouldn’t be blamed or punished.

    The only thing that would happen in the case of a North Korean boycott would be that the Nork regime would simply tell the populace that they hadn’t qualified, or that they were victims of a western conspiracy. It would have no discernable effect on the regime itself, which I think would be the main reason for the boycott in the first place.

    Two things here. Well, actually, more than two. Firstly, while I certainly agree with you regarding the differing media situations, I’m not sure if I like the conclusion, namely, because apartheid South Africa WASN’T a completely totalitarian state, it was turned into an international pariah, while North Korea, a regime much more odious than South Africa’s by some yet-to-be-calculated order of magnitude, hasn’t been. In essence, South Africa was punished for behaving in a manner that more closely resembled civilized rules of behavior.

    One could also argue that boycotts did little in the case of South Africa (and even less in the similar case of Rhodesia, which fought rather successfully for 20 years under an international boycott regime). Both, after all, were settler garrison states that thrived on the siege mentality.

    Ultimately, though, while one could argue about whether boycotts are more effective on quasi-democracies like apartheid South Africa or the psychological particularities of the North Korean case, I think it’s pretty clear that the sanctions leveled on South Africa had little to do with such calculations, and everything to do with the international community, and the Afro-Asian bloc in particular, finding nothing particularly wrong with Stalinist thugs and tin-pot dictators butchering their own people, but regarding “white colonialism” as beyond the pale. The same reason, I would argue, that the international community goes into a frenzy when Israel farts. And I guess this is what leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

  • Jashin Densetsu

    re south africa, you had soviet and world communist support for the black underclass against the regime. you had corporate interests and plutocrats like the oppenheimers and stuff both in and out of south africa that were against the regime. you had western elites and opinion against the regime and western fetishization of africans. so you had a bunch of different divisions and elements and interests involved. you don’t have this many stuff involved when it comes to north korea. it’s not as intense.

  • milton

    Robert,

    Couldn’t agree more. That’s one of the great hypocrisies of the so-called “international community.” The world hates the Chinese for oppressing the Dalai Lama (different ethnic groups), but doesn’t bat an eyelash when it comes to Saudis or Uzbeks repressing their own populations (same group). Apparently, for some fools (or out of narrow self-interest), totalitarianism is considered a “cultural issue” or an “internal matter” and is hence off limits.

    By the way, I’m stuck in moderation at #10.

  • http://pawikirogii.blogspot.com pawikirogii

    ‘but regarding “white colonialism” as beyond the pale. The same reason, I would argue, that the international community goes into a frenzy when Israel farts.’

    you mean when israel murders innocents. the us enables the hebrew state. the us is 70% white. but you’re right; there is a racial element to israel killing whoever they want, whenever they want, however they want.

  • Anathema

    I distinctly recall that during apartheid, South Koreans, Taiwanese and Japanese were considered “honorary whites” in South Africa, whereas mainland Chinese were not. Not too certain about North Koreans though.

    And yeah, that was one time sanctions worked – the sanctions against South Africa hit our economy hard, I think at one stage during the late 70s/early 80s the South African rand was equal to the British pound, very different story today though.

  • yuna

    The world hates the Chinese for oppressing the Dalai Lama (different ethnic groups), but doesn’t bat an eyelash when it comes to Saudis or Uzbeks repressing their own populations (same group)

    But aren’t you arguing at the same time that “their own populations” in the case of North Korea are somewhow willingly letting themselves be repressed? In which case why bat an eyelash according to your own argument?

  • yuna

    Also, “elite” holds not much in North Korea even if the footballers were part of, which I doubt very much – it looks like nothing short of being directly related to Kim Jongil is going to save you from being held responsible and being shot as well as your family being sent to torture camps at the drop of a hat, and certainly, if they were to defect, this would undeniably result in all such hell.

  • yuna

    Defectors leave because they need a job, not because they find the political environment unbearable.

    Are you saying the North Koreans who risked their lives and their family’s lives are simply nothing more than economic migrants? When we normally talk about “needing a job” that doesn’t usually equate to “needing food to survive”.

  • milton

    But aren’t you arguing at the same time that “their own populations” in the case of North Korea are somewhow willingly letting themselves be repressed? In which case why bat an eyelash according to your own argument?

    I do think North Koreans are in many ways complicit in their own suffering. But, I am not really a moral relativist. I believe there is right and wrong, and the KJI regime (the system as whole, including the oppressor-oppressed dynamic) is wrong or, to paraphrase Reagan , it’s an “evil empire.” People can be changed. As an example, look at how people responded to the colonial regimes of yore (something that was morally wrong). Most natives collaborated with their colonial masters and believed in the system, but once liberated, they changed their minds. I firmly believe that North Koreans will change once the Kimilsungist system is destroyed, because that’s what people do. So, yes, I do think we should care. because in the case it’s the right thing to do.

    Are you saying the North Koreans who risked their lives and their family’s lives are simply nothing more than economic migrants? When we normally talk about “needing a job” that doesn’t usually equate to “needing food to survive”.

    Yes, the latest research on NK defectors indicates that most left North Korea primarily for economic reasons. I was being tongue-in-cheek when I said they were only looking for a job. The point I was making was that North Koreans weren’t leaving the country for freedom or out of dissatisfaction with the ongoing repression. They were leaving because economic conditions. Yet, economic dissatisfaction did not translate into anti-regime sentiment. Here’s what Haggard and Nolan (2010) had to say:

    [G]iven the fact that economic conditions are so adverse, It’s not surprising that more than half the sample (57%) reported economic motivations are their primary reason for leaving the country. Nonetheless, this was followed by political freedom (27%), fear (8%), and religious freedom (1%).

    They do note that the numbers of those seeking “political freedom” are growing, but it still remains a paltry 30%. Interestingly, they also note that those seeking political freedom are “disproportionally college-educated and from Pyongyang.” The only problem with Haggard and Nolan’s analysis is that they don’t ask the refugees about their political orientation. Do they believe in the ideology of the system? Is their disaffection limited to the petty functionaries and bureaucrats (i.e. that KJI really wants what’s best for the people and the cadres are selfish and ruining it)? Do they believe in Kim Il Sung and the system he created as a whole or not? Anecdotal sources suggest they do, but I haven’t seen any comprehensive studies on North Korean political attitudes.

    Source:
    http://www.eastwestcenter.org/fileadmin/stored/pdfs/pswp021.pdf

  • yuna

    Most natives collaborated with their colonial masters and believed in the system

    By believing in the system you mean not everyone risked their lives for freedom. I notice you show flashes of strange extreme views from time to time in your mostly reasonable and well-argued points, which marks you out from the usual crowd from the “2 girls run over mad cow candlelight” victim support group.

    [G]iven the fact that economic conditions are so adverse, It’s not surprising that more than half the sample (57%) reported economic motivations are their primary reason for leaving the country. Nonetheless, this was followed by political freedom (27%), fear (8%), and religious freedom (1%)

    You can only be political if you are not starving. You need nutrients for your brain to function. I hear stories of whole villages dying off because of starvation. I would hardly expect them to tick the box of “political freedom” when they defect.

  • http://www.sperwerslog.com Sperwer

    You can only be political if you are not starving. You need nutrients for your brain to function. I hear stories of whole villages dying off because of starvation. I would hardly expect them to tick the box of “political freedom” when they defect.

    sounds suspiciously similar to the typical apologia of repressive authoritarian govts – right and left

  • yuna

    what’s suspicious about it?

  • yuna

    About the actual boycotting, I did ask raise the question in this post

    Should the international community boycott North Koreans from the World Cup?

    Now it’s too late though I agree with her reasoning in Newsweek more than the reason given in this thread. Having tried to support the North Korean team at the beginning, I see the lack of soul and the guardedness and unwillingness to engage with those curious about them (the non-zainichis) which makes them very different from the idealized image I had from watching the documentary of the 1966 team. They seem so broken.

  • slim

    That Newsweek piece does not depart much from the reasoning here of Milton and Hamilton et al, except perhaps that she has an empathy for the rank-and-file North Korean players borne of not really knowing how relatively well off those guys are compared to their compatriots.

  • yuna

    Empathy, that’s a good word.

  • Minjokjuuija

    Opposition to the South African regime wasn’t driven by some imaginary non-Western “international community” or “Afro-Asian bloc.” It was driven and motivated by Westerners and Western interests.

  • milton

    By believing in the system you mean not everyone risked their lives for freedom.

    No, I mean “believing in the system,” as in “buying into the Grand Myth espoused by government.” If your government is a moral abomination, then by choosing to cooperate, you are legitimatizing the state. In the final act of Plato’s Crito, Crito is wondering why Socrates hasn’t fled Athens, despite his death sentence. Socrates responds that when you choose to live under a government, you tacitly agree to that government’s legitimacy. Says Socrates:

    For they would say, “Socrates, we have great evidence
    that we and the state pleased you;
    for more than all other Athenians
    you would not have particularly stayed at home in her,
    if you were not particularly pleased,
    and you did not go out of the state for a festival,
    except once to the isthmus,
    nor anywhere else, if not on military service,
    nor did you make another journey anywhere like other people,
    nor did you want to know other states nor other laws,
    but we and our state were adequate for you;
    so strongly did you prefer us and agree with our politics
    that you even produced children in her,
    so pleased were you with the state.

    Socrates uses this position to argue that if one has lived under and benefited from the state one should never go against the state (because doing so would be an injustice, and fighting injustice with injustice is wrong). Logically, the argument is air tight.

    But, if the government under which you live is oppressive, I think it is morally wrong to support that state, because oppression is always wrong and immorality should not be supported and it is morally good to fight against the state by any means possible. If someone you know is committing an immoral act and you have knowledge of this act and do nothing to prevent it from occurring, then you are complicit. The state is no different.

    In the case of someone who pays lip service to regime ideology in order to survive, this is a moral gray area. Certainly doing so lacks courage (easy for me to say, as I sit here typing from my comfortable, air-conditioned office while thinking about what type of food I will order for lunch), but is it morally wrong? I guess it all depends on how much you value courage versus survival. The draft dodger values survival more than courage, and society generally looks upon him with scorn. Some would argue though that survival is the highest good.

    I notice you show flashes of strange extreme views

    Ha! Which of my views are strange extreme views? I think my views are considered par-for-the-course in the United States. I could be wrong about that though.

    I’m always up for a good old-fashioned Hegelian dialectic. For me, argumentation is about discovering knowledge and practicing logic. Using rhetoric, wit, and ad hominem attacks to score quick points and bludgeon your opponent into submission can be entertaining, but in my case, I care more about the truth than winning an argument. Evidence and the logic that binds is all that matters for me. I am not married to any of my positions and will gladly give them up. So, if my views seem extreme, you are more than welcome to try to argue me out of them, or to try to reach a “synthesis” between opposing viewpoints. My ear is always open.

    By the way, even though we often disagree, I really enjoy debating with you. You present a viewpoint that is rare on this blog, your arguments are polite and well-reasoned, and worthy of consideration.

    “2 girls run over mad cow candlelight” victim support group.

    I’m a card-carrying member. I’ll be sure and tell the others to be more well-reasoned at our next meeting. ;-)

    I would hardly expect them to tick the box of “political freedom” when they defect..

    Fair enough. That’s a plausible explanation for why most of the refugees are economic and not political. Given the devastating economic situation, and the relative porous-ness of the border, one would expect economic refugees to be in the majority. But the fact remains, that most (many?) of those who defect continue to believe in the “goodness” of the northern Kims (yes, I know this is anecdotal evidence, hopefully someone reputable will do a survey on the political ideology of North Korean defectors). Assume this is true for a minute. We know that defectors, feeling compelled to leave the state, are strongly biased against the state. So, if the majority of them have positive feelings towards the leadership and the system, we can surmise that the regular population is even more positive towards the regime. Thus, from this hypothetical syllogism, we can conclude that most North Koreans are regime supporters. Which also explains why there are so few political defectors.

    The fact that they leave the state yet continue to support the regime or carry on some of the core tenets means that form a moral standpoint, they are unscrupulous, and are therefore complicit in their own fates. This also raises questions about the level of coercion and compulsion. If people continue to believe the myths even after they are removed from their environment, then it seems to show they willfully believe in what they are told.

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  • keius

    @Milton
    “This is certainly true, but it doesn’t explain why we don’t see many political refugees, nor does it explain why defectors still have positive feelings towards the North.”
    If you mean “positive feelings” as towards their home country, then it’s pretty reasonable for them to feel that way. My wife loves China as her mother country. She hates it’s policies towards it’s own people and it’s system of government. A lot of people feel that way but don’t seem to have that much hope for change. People are simply accepting of things that they feel they can not change.
    If you mean that the defecting Norks actually support the regime, then they probably did leave for economic reasons. There’s no motivation quite like an empty stomach. It pretty much means that they’re still brainwashed puppets and are possibly spies. Maybe they verbally support the regime in public in the hopes that things might go easier for the relatives they left behind to rot in concentration camps. Who knows….

  • milton

    Keius,

    I meant “positive feelings” in your second sense. I think there is a big difference between positive feelings towards one’s home country and supporting the North Korean government. North Korean defectors are free to feel proud of being Korean or proud of Korea. I have no problems with that. My problem lies in the fact that they continue (anecdotally, at least) to support one of the most brutal, genocidal regimes in mankind’s history. For instance, I remember an anecdote from B.R. Myers about how he visited the Hanawon center in South Korea, and how most of the defectors there still carried an intense hatred towards Americans. Their worldviews remain intact, even after all the suffering and hardship they went through at the hands of the regime (or perhaps it’s that the Hanawon does a poor job of de-programming?). Regardless, the situation is pitiful.

  • milton

    Won Sae-hoon, chairman of the National Intelligence Agency, told the National Assembly the Kim Jong-Il is exhibiting signs of dementia. This could be good and bad. Good because KJI is way past the point of deserving death for his atrocities against humanity. Bad because if KJI is slowly dying and become senile, it could create a lot of regional and internal problems (assuming KJI is not currently a figurehead and still in control of the day-to-day running of the country).

    Here’s to hoping for a long, painful, humiliating death for the Dear Tyrant. And to hoping whatever comes next is far better.

    http://news.naver.com/main/hotissue/read.nhn?mid=hot&sid1=100&cid=307283&iid=1551188&oid=021&aid=0002039410&ptype=011