Open Sources, August 15, 2013

HAVES AND CAN’T HAVES:  Two million North Koreans have “authorized” cell phones; meanwhile, the regime is cracking down on the unauthorized kind.  I default to skepticism of any self-serving claims that a transaction involving the government of North Korea will result in social or political changes in North Korean society, but Orascom may be the one exception I’m willing to acknowledge.  I don’t think any state can monitor that many phones, and in a society where money can buy anything, more of these phones are going to get into the hands of wealthy North Koreans who aren’t necessarily loyalists.

The phone story is also one aspect of a bigger trend about widening class differences in North Korea under Kim Jong Un–really, its economic evolution toward fascism.  There are more cars and consumer goods in Pyongyang, yet they’re seizing crops and forcing farmers to resort to cannibalism in the provinces.  What distinguishes North Korea’s political system from just another deviation of fascism?  Extreme nationalism? Check. Official religion? Check. Totalitarian state? Check. Mass mobilization and militarism?  Check, and check.  The only thing we were missing was the controlled mixed economy, and now we have that, too.

Although fascism and Marxism share too many elements to distinguish cleanly, Marxism emphasizes class warfare, not nationalism; fascism emphasizes nationalism, not class warfare. North Korea has chosen its side.  The ideology of a society with growing class divisions can hardly emphasize class warfare.

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FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, PEOPLE–STAY OUT OF NORTH KOREA!  I feel sorry for Ken Bae, I don’t think he deserves anything the North Koreans did to him, and I think our government should threaten to indict the North Korean officials responsible for his detention he isn’t returned A.S.A.P., but I wish people would get over their messianic delusions–whether religious or economic–and stay the hell out of North Korea.  Just … stay out.

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THIS ARTICLE didn’t persuade me of the merits of a peace treaty with North Korea, but it did help explain why North Korea and its sympathizers are demanding one (because the negotiation would open the way to additional North Korean demands).  It’s hard to believe that a peace treaty would make Korea more peaceful when the North can’t even comply with an Armistice.

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WHY WE CAN’T JUST IGNORE NORTH KOREA: Rep. Paul Cook of California explains.

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OUR GOVERNMENT CAN’T PRINT ITS OWN MONEY, BUT it’s a sure bet nothing like this will happen when the North Koreans print them in their own little unauthorized U.S. mint.

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NORTH KOREA IS FOUND RESPONSIBLE FOR YET another cyberattack against South Korean government and media targets.

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SO RAMSEY CLARK IS A NORKSIMP, TOO?  A reader forwards this video of Ramsey Clark making a propaganda speech for the cameras in Pyongyang, standing next to Alejandro Cao de Benos.  I’m not really surprised that Ramsey Clark would do this, but I’m surprised that some journalists ignore things like this and then give Clark sympathetic coverage as a quirky, well-meaning “peace activist” when he’s delivering a message they find more agreeable.

One comment

  1. [...] Other news from the Korean colony: Joshua Staunton covers the gamut (Kenneth Bae’s imprisonment, cell phones, cyberattacks, etc.) over at One Free Korea. [...]

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