7 Things Not to Envy About North Korea

December 21st, 2011 at 12:09 pm

For some time now, long before Kim Jong-il finally kicked it, I have been wrestling with a morbid curiosity of  North Korean.

Can you relate?

The reasons for my fixation are probably somewhere between Orwellian Obsession and Despot Envy.

Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick

With her book Nothing to Envy, Barbara Demick provides an impressive journalistic contribution to history by giving voice to the people of North Korea by telling the awful, modern story of their national cult by interviewing normal, everyday citizens who defected from the misery of the failed state.

Immediately addressing my North Korean compulsion, Demick asserts that, “While the persistence of North Korea is a curiosity for the rest of the world, it is a tragedy for North Koreans.”

Guilty as charged.

Even alongside the modern era’s menagerie of beasts, North Korea still contains plenty to be intrigued and horrified:

1. The recurring global theme of co-opting and perverting religion and exploiting people’s capacity to Believe

“What distinguished him [Kim Il-sung] in the rogues’ gallery of twentieth-century dictators was his ability to harness the power of faith. Kim Il-sung understood the power of religion. His maternal uncle was a Protestant minister back in the pre-Communist days when Pyongyang had such a vibrant Christian community that it was called the “Jerusalem of the East.” Once in power, Kim Il-sung closed the churches, banned the Bible, deported believers to the hinterlands, and appropriated Christian imagery and dogma for the purpose of self-promotion.”

Pyongyang was the Jerusalem of the East??? It is never a good sign when you live in a country with hinterlands.

Demick shares with us matter of factually that during the famine of the ’90s, it was the, “Simple and kindhearted people who did what they were told – they were the first to die.”

2. North Korea is literally covered in shit

“North Korea was chronically short of chemical fertilizer and needed to use human excrement since there were few farm animals…The countryside reeked of the night soil that is still used instead of chemical fertilizer.”

3. There is a name for that creepy material preferred by Bond villains and Dictators alike

“Vinalon, a stiff, shiny synthetic material unique to North Korea.”

4. North Korean Irony

“In 1991, while South Korea was becoming the world’s largest exporter of mobile telephones, few North Koreans had ever used a telephone. You had to go to a post office to make a phone call.”

, and

“An aside here about sex in North Korea…[what] many North Korean defectors…found most surprising about South Korea was that couples kiss in public.”

1991. Few North Koreans had ever used a telephone, much less a mobile phone. Think about that.

And these poor people are so prude, so repressed, so stifled by the mere grim struggle to subsist on a daily basis that they are most surprised by public displays of affection. Affection. Think about that.

5. Grotesque Canopies of Frozen Menstrual Rags

Life in dormitories of North Korean schools was a bit different than the typical cushy American upbringing:

“[Students] were roused by a military-style roll call at 6:00 AM, but instead of marching off like proud soldiers, they shivered into the bathroom and splashed icy water on their faces, under a grotesque canopy of frozen menstrual rags.”

6. Government Healthcare

A “Let’s Eat Two Meals a Day” campaign was cheerily implemented by the North Korean government during the famine of the ’90s.

How’s that for a new diet fad?

“They [North Korean citizens] jumped from the tops of buildings, a favorite method of suicide in North Korea since nobody had sleeping pills and only soldiers had guns with bullets.”

How’s that for actual death panels?

7. Big Brother

One young man featured in Demick’s book used his new life in South Korea to read all the books unobtainable in his homeland.

“His favorite was a translation of 1984. He marveled that George Orwell could have so understood the North Korean brand of totalitarianism.”



Upcoming Events

December 20th, 2011 at 11:21 am

I hope it isn’t sold out.

Ticks Found in Area



The Revolution by Ron Paul

December 20th, 2011 at 5:00 am

“I would choose freedom even if it meant less prosperity.” – Ron Paul

The Revolution by Ron Paul

I approve of most books that come with an additional reading list. Hooray, Reading!

I especially approve of books with “A Reading List for a Free and Prosperous America.” Good for you, Ron Paul!!

The Revolution is refreshing because Ron Paul dutifully and thankfully goes after the Bush Administration and goons like Alberto Gonzales responsible for the Patriot Act and its focus on citizens rather than foreign terrorists. In The Revolution, Ron Paul accuses politicians of treating Americans like sheep and even criticizes a Senator’s quote with a summation of “creepy propaganda.”

And Ron jumps into the real issues, like weed, for which Mr. Paul diplomatically tells us, “People’s opinions on this issue are so deeply and fervently held that it can be very difficult to persuade them to revisit the evidence dispassionately.” But he quickly assures us that, “We seriously mistake the function of government if we think its job is to regulate bad habits…When you actually study the beginnings of the federal war on drugs, you uncover a history of lies, bigotry, and ignorance so extensive it will leave you speechless.”

And all this from a medical doctor no less. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a leader familiar with healthcare?

Ron Paul hits his stride and wraps things up with a topic he is clearly comfortable and passionate: money (End the Fed is his 2nd book), sharing with us a letter from John Adams to Thomas Jefferson:

“All the perplexities, confusions, and distress in America, arise, not from defects in their Constitution or Confederation, not from a want of honor or virtue, so much as from downright ignorance of the nature of coin, credit, and circulation.”

And I agree. We are all foolish in many ways, especially money. Consumption Is The Problem.

Ultimately, it will be difficult for Ron Paul to garner the needed blind support of the masses because he is a walking embodiment of a theme familiar to readers of Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom. Freedom is messy and ugly and difficult because it demands freedom for everyone, even those you don’t like.



The Latest Fitness Craze

December 9th, 2011 at 6:08 pm

Hop-Kick

The Hop-Kick.

Everyone’s doing it.

Step 1: Stand erect.

Step 2: Giggle.



Sports Question

December 1st, 2011 at 8:21 pm

When Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow kneels in the end zone, is he thanking god that he wasn’t molested by a coach?

Or is he condemning the Pope for condoning Priest Pedophilia?

Tim Tebow Tebowing

No one likes to get Fined.

But have you ever been Sanduskied?