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Monday, December 11, 2006

North Korea needs a makeover!

So, the other night I watched PrimeTime with Diane Sawyer as she documented her 12 days in North Korea. It is a country closed off from the world with its entire population under the control of one man, Kim Jong-il and his father, Kim Il-sung's, legacy. In North Korea, no one dares to breathe without the proper paper work. And although the students Sawyer interviewed boasted of being able to go into Korean hospitals and be cured for free, getting food is not always so easy. Sawyer commented that North Korea relies heavily on China and Russia for aide in feeding its people. People may not be dying in the hospitals, but they're dying from hunger. Now, if widespread famine, secret political prisons, nuclear weapons and dilapidated public housing were not bad enough Sawyer has the journalistic chops to bring us the real story; the hard truth about North Koreans. Brace yourselves
They can't have cell phones. They don't take an interest in U.S. fashion. A teenage girl in North Korea only has a small closet the size of a dorm refrigerator. North Korean three year olds were forced to follow the direction of a teacher and learned a song to perform-which they did perfectly. (To which Sawyer remarks, "Can you imagine American three year olds doing this?") Their college students want to study in their free time. They don't want to dye their hair blond. They dance traditional dances instead of dancing "to their own beat." They don't have the opportunity to eat lots of Western style junk foods like their South Korean neighbors. They don't smile at foreigners. No one has pets. And they've never heard of Google!
Need I continue? Yes, North Korean is a country in trouble. The people are not treated as images of God, but cogs in a machine. They are used by the state for its own means, for the benefit of a few and given very little. However, to imply that these people are deprived because they don't drool over an issue of People magazine is obtuse. The West cannot help a country by passing along materialism and the views and morals of American youth. In a way, it seemed to me that Sawyer was calling many of the people in North Korea, uncool and backward. For example, if North Korea was a kid at your middle school, she would always have gotten picked on for not having a cell phone, bringing a packed lunch, wearing the same ugly clothes her Mommy picked out for her and not being able to tell you what part of Spear's body was all over the web. North Korea would totally need a makeover!
This is just poor journalism. It makes the viewers feel sorry for the North Koreans' not because they live under a horrible socialist government but because they can't have an IPod, or designer jeans or cable TV. Surprise! No one needs those things! The difference is the North Koreans don't have the choice. North Koreans' could be very happy without all the magazines, movies and fast food but they need the freedom to choose. Freedom and capitalism are two different things. Frankly, the North Koreans would be better off with just the freedom. Would it still be so terrible if their youth chose to participate in traditional waltzes after liberation, or do we expect all free people to bump and grind?
Let us pray for the people of North Korea. May a peaceful solution be reached.