Great Confiscation Updates: So Much for That “Collective Spirit”

So much for that “collective spirit” Christine Ahn is so fond of talking about:

In January and February at neighborhood meetings, participants from many regions spoke out and threw objects at the chiefs who said the currency reform has been successful and that people should show devotion to the party. Since the currency reform, many people have become homeless; and for that, they took their frustrations out on the neighborhood chiefs who are the mouth-piece of the government.

Such incidents were unheard of prior to the currency reform. If it did happen, the “rebel” would be prosecuted and punished. However, due to the currency remain silent. Such incidents are seen as the beginning process of widespread anti-government sentiments. People’s outward expression gains more strength because Kim Jong-Il acknowledged the failure of the currency reform. [Open News]

Just add cell phones, hope, and guns. Surely in a place where domestic institutions are so oppressive and international institutions are so ineffective, no human right is so fundamental to securing the others as the right to bear arms. And in a place where “peace” is so deadly to so many, it would be difficult to argue that a revolution to destroy that oppressive system would increase the net suffering of the people.

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People are still killing themselves over the effects of The Great Confiscation. Another is reported to have died of shock.

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If you’re a Wall Street Journal subscriber, here’s a link to a story on an apparent official North Korean acknowledgment that The Great Confiscation was a failure.

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Open News thinks that the dismissal of financial official Park Nam Ki means that the military is winning a power struggle. Always bet on the guys with guns.

9 Comments

  1. Donga Ilbo reports army is fast running out of food and the conscripts have been put on short rations and light duties. This is serious. Previously the military has had special rations, even if they were stolen from UN or USAID shipments. No special rations. Now we have the military at odds with the Party. Good news for change.




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  2. David, combined with the fact that KPA soldiers are joining the underground Church, the military vs. the Juche cult government is looking like the possible fault line of the early stages of a formal dissidence. Combined with the ajumma rebellion, this dissidence could be trouble for the Juche godmakers. If KJI is as weak and sickly as some suspect (lets see if he really travels to China), this could be the beginning of the end.




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  3. KCJ, do you have a more recent link than 2007? I’d like to gauge whether this trend appears to be coming to a boil, staying at a low heat, or cooling off.

    When collapse does come, it would be nice if there’s a network of people of faith throughout the country, to offset the military and the meth heads.




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  4. No, I don’t, but it stands to reason that the fervor has increased, and certainly not leveled off at all by the testimony of defectors. Open Doors puts the number of underground Christians at a half million. The Christian NGOs in the ROK possess mature plans and abundant resources to surge into NK at the slightest crack of an opening. The ROK has more than 176 missionary-sending organizations (there were 21 in 1979) and sends more missionaries abroad (per capita) than any country on earth.

    Kim Jong Il fears that cross-border contacts will puncture the hermetic seal that he has tried, with considerable success, to place around North Korea – the seal that preserves the Kim dynasty and its “divinity.” Anything that casts doubt on the beneficence or omnipotence of the “Dear Leader” has to be repressed. That is why there is renewed government interest in ensuring that North Koreans coming back from China are not “infected” either by South Korean democracy or any form of religious belief. As one interviewee explained after her experience with North Korean border guards, the DPRK government fears that “Juche will be toppled by Christianity.”

    Source: Prison Without Bars: U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom report

    Dr. Andrei Lankov believes that post-Juche NK could rapidly convert to Christianity.

    “It is remarkable how successful Protestantism is among Northern defectors who are currently living in South Korea. Many of them converted in the first months of their sojourn. Once again, this can be partially explained by the active involvement of right-wing Christians with the refugee community (the secular left and South Korean society in general are quite indifferent if not hostile to these people). Still, it is clear that North Koreans are willing to embrace the religion with exceptional zeal. Perhaps this is a sign of things to come…”

    Dr. Andrei Lankov, Associate Professor at Kookmin University, in Seoul




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  5. Interviewee 36: “Agents are educated in the National University of Security and Defense, but sometimes professors come and teach them secretly. An agent is
    told to have a religion, but it is for infiltrating the enemy.”

    Interviewee 37: “We just learn that ‘because a religion is a drug, it can be spread in a second, and [that is how] Gorbachev of Russia fell because imperialism penetrated
    through religion.’ In this way, [all threats] are related to religion.”

    However, refugees who confess to religious belief, or are suspected of spreading Christianity, are viewed as “political offenders” or “foreign spies.” They are subject to the harshest penalties, including hard labor and lengthy imprisonment. The potential spread
    of Protestantism particularly is viewed as a destabilizing force, a “poison that could affect other people,” because it presents an ideological alternative to KimIlSungism. The North Korean government views Buddhism and Shamanism as types of “superstitions,” the security agents said, but not as political or ideological threats. These religious traditions “do not spread.”

    Prison Without Bars: U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom report




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  6. A couple observations and questions.

    First, I hope those Christian NGOs are geared to come in at the first sign of a crack will be bringing blankets, medicine, food, and not just Bibles. My biggest problem with some Protestants (and not just a few Catholics) is that they sometimes forget that the body needs to be fed as well.

    James 2:14-26 should be required reading for the Christian NGOs right before setting foot in the north.

    Second, why is Protestantism “particularly… viewed as a destabilizing force” and not Catholicism, which would seem to present a similar alternative to Kimilsungism? Is it just by force of numbers or zealotry or what?




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  7. First, I hope those Christian NGOs are geared to come in at the first sign of a crack will be bringing blankets, medicine, food, and not just Bibles. My biggest problem with some Protestants (and not just a few Catholics) is that they sometimes forget that the body needs to be fed as well.

    Really? I’d like to see some of these NGOs that do not respond compassionately to the needs of the poor and distressed. The NGOs that I monitor are primarily focused on humanitarian relief. Heard of Haiti?

    Second, why is Protestantism “particularly… viewed as a destabilizing force” and not Catholicism, which would seem to present a similar alternative to Kimilsungism? Is it just by force of numbers or zealotry or what?

    First of all, this isn’t my original analysis that you quote – it comes from the 2008 U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom report. The reasons given are that Protestant Christianity is associated with the USA and its volunteerism, freedom of association, pluralist tendencies and capitalism. My read on ROK NGOs is that both groups of Christians have plenty of assistance to offer suffering North Koreans and are ready, willing and (with some hlep from security forces) able to deliver it when the opening occurs.

    I notice you don’t seem too concerned about South Korean carpet baggers or other possible exploiters of North Korea, just these pesky Christians and their Bible-thumping.

    KJI fears Christianity. Period. As his influence and popularity wane, anything he hates or fears will find resonance in the nascent dissidence movements. It could be the perfect storm for the missionaries, both Catholic and Protestant.

    FWIW, the Catholics keep a lower profile (and some are more prone to Leftist causes, like the CPAJ) and are more likely to plant stable institutions in a failed North Korean state. The Protestants are more likely to evangelize, plant churches quickly, divide and redivide, and perhaps peter out in places. A lot depends on the intellectual and spiritual hunger of the NK people. Just a factoid: Shamanism has exploded in the North, and although illegal, the government cannot stop it. That speaks of a spiritual hunger and a yearning for the supernatural.




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  8. KCJ wrote:

    I notice you don’t seem too concerned about South Korean carpet baggers or other possible exploiters of North Korea, just these pesky Christians and their Bible-thumping.

    Yep, that’s me, the Christian who “obviously knows nothing about Christianity.”




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  9. There are reports that Kim Jong-il’s #2 is going to Beijing in his place.

    I wonder if they fear having KJI out of the country when all this disgruntlement is going on, or perhaps the Dear Leader’s health is fading.




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