As Close To Hell On Earth…

… North Korea

I received this from someone who travels to North Korea regularly.   I believe this was translated from Korean and some of the formatting may be funky.    I have taken some of the dating information out to help preserve his identity.  It is long and some of it may be a little too anecdotal, but read past the break to the end.


When I traveled to North Korea (earlier this year), things were very different compared to my last visit in (even earlier this year).

Throughout the city propaganda slogans were posted to encourage workers to become more productive. Despite these efforts productivity still falls behind the Party’s desired goals. A middle school band plays military battle songs exalting Kim Il Sung during morning and evening rush hours. Cars with loudspeakers broadcast the Party’s policies to set the atmosphere toward increasing productivity, but the citizens walk away with emotionless faces and seem to be only focused on their own survival.

I. North Korea’s current situation
II. South Korea’s current situation
III. Why are they are doing nuclear testing and missile launchings?
IV. Will there be war between North and South Korea?
V. How do we foresee the future?
VI. What can we do?

I. North Korean’s current situation
1. The Marketplace and the Black Market
Last August, Kim Jong-il collapsed due to a stroke and his brother-in-law Chung Sung Taek (Presently the vice-chairman of Administration and member of the Defense Dept) became the acting president. On his tour of Sinuiju, he ordered the marketplace to be closed, but the citizens did not follow the orders and continued to open the markets. As a result, seven merchants underwent public execution. (Transfer of goods along the border cannot be stopped like the yellow winds that blow in across the border: Not only are material goods being transferred, but news from China and South Korea filters into North Korea and plays a large role in changing the opinions of the North Korean people. By finding out about their country’s current crisis, they realize that they have been deceived by their own country.)

In (A Date) 2009, at a meeting of junior party monitors, an assignment was given to halt the activities of importers from China in order to prevent goods from reaching wholesale merchants so that the retailers would naturally have to close their stores. In April, two importers were executed for violating the government’s instructions, and those that helped them were sent to the Center for Re-education.

However, the reality in North Korea is that 80-90% of their necessities are obtained through these marketplaces, and with the government having no plans to provide rations and yet still forcing closure of these markets, the citizens are left in utter frustration and discontentment -This factor will result in rioting in North Korea.

2. This year it is reported that army rations are down to only 7 small potatoes per day.  An official notice was sent out to the senior officers stating that starting in June, food rations will be cut off for the rear stationed army soldiers. After the food supplies are cut off from the rear stationed soldiers, it will not be long before the food supplies are cut off from the frontline soldiers. At present, even in Pyongyang food rations to its citizens are available only15 days out of the month. In the outlining areas, a worker receives a handful of corn for a day’s labor with which he scavenges grass from the mountains to mix together to make a porridge to eat. In rural areas, people say that the second great famine is coming. The food shortage is serious. This time however, the citizens will not just “sit down and die” as they did during the great famine of 1995.

3. Childcare. Many people are abandoning their babies to the orphanage. There are people that leave babies at the orphanage with letters saying that they will come back for their children after 3 years. “Kkotjaebi” (Flower swallow) children are seen in the marketplaces stealing food or scavenging food that has fallen on the ground. In March, it was reported that children were so cold and had no place to sleep, so they slept in the trash to keep warm. Their bodies were found covered with maggots.

4. There are increasing reports of murder
A mother will knock on a door and the homeowner will open the door. Her kids, hiding behind their mother, pull out a murder weapon and kill the homeowner.  In the past, these incidents were reported to occur in the dark streets at night, but now these robbery murders are occurring on the porches of residential homes in broad daylight. It was revealed at a time of public execution that these criminals even gather and boast about how many murders they have committed.

Public executions are performed after gathering large crowds of people together (In Chongjin: up to 130,000 people were gathered). At these events, the crimes are read out loud to demonstrate in public that the consequence of murder is death and to establish social order. However, the onlookers’ response has changed to empathy for the accused, with a general sentiment that if they were in the victim’s shoes, they may also have had to kill to survive.
II. South Korea’s current situation

The amount of money given to North Korea by the South Korean government during Kim Dae Jung and Roh Moo Hyun’s presidencies is 2.9 billion dollars. In cash, gifts and aid money, the amount comes to 6.9 billion, 59.5 million dollars. This amount is 3.7 times the amount of China’s 1.9 billion dollar support and 90% of North Korea’s total export of 7.7 billion dollars.

—The Ministry of Unification. The National Intelligence Service.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MOFAT)
The government reports that for the Mt. Geumgang tourism and Kaesong Industrial Complex fees and wages, the payment is 2.9 billion 2.22 million dollars. The cost for rice, fertilizer, and raw materials, totaled 4 billion, 57.28 million dollars: For 2.7 million tons of food and 2.56 million tons of fertilizer that was requested, 3.2 billion dollars was spent. The government estimates that North Korea used 5-600 million dollars to develop long-range rockets and 8-900 million dollars to develop nuclear weapons.

In March of 2007, North Korea announced the building of a center for the reunion of separated families in Pyongyang. $400,000 in cash and 3.8 million dollars in building materials was collected, but construction was never started.
All the cash given to North Korea most likely went to Kim Jong-il’s slush funds, local government funds, labor party funds and military funds.

1. Kaesong Industrial Park
From the very beginning, the introduction of capitalism in the industrial park presented to be a problem. Initially, it was designed so that workers would be replaced on an annual basis, but in reality, replacing workers became impossible. The workers and their families at the Kaesong complex began to hear news about South Korea by word of mouth with growing fantasies about life in South Korea. More than the cash flow produced by Kaesong Industrial Park, something of more importance was being realized. Accusations were made that the industrial park workers were the “poster children” to promote South Korea’s capitalism.
Payment for lunches, Choco-pie for snacks, incentive payment for holidays and 3 months of bonus pay—These all had an effect on the workers’ hearts.  In the Kaesong Industrial Park negotiations, they will use Hyundai workers that are being held hostage there. In the bigger picture of things, the Kaesong Industrial Complex is the target of strategic exploitation.

2. The Labor Union Strike
In present times of world economic recession when stocks and companies and banks are closing its doors, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions declared a strike. It is not accidental to see the paralysis of the industrial nation and the prevention of exportation of goods. By taking advantage of the commotion caused by former president Roh Moo Hyun’s suicide, North Korea will use whatever means it can to deem Lee Myung Bak’s presidency ineffective. In an emergency statement given by university professors, it was stated that difficult times will continue.

3. Tension in the Yellow Sea
On January 17, 2009, North Korean military made a statement that it would enter an all out confrontation with South Korea. On May 27, when the South Korean government joined the PSI to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, North Korea stated that this act was a with declaration of war and that it would retaliate with strong action.  They said that it was a violation of armistice agreement and they threatened
that they would follow through with military action. The forces stationed at Nampo Naval Headquarters and the coastal fleets have been detected with more than twice the usual amount of ammunition in preparation for war. Along the Yellow Sea near Nampo on Cho Island, they have intensified military drills and practice landing exercises. The location of this is near the launch site of the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in South Pyongan Province, in the Cheolsan County, near of village of Dongchang.

4. The buildup of tension
Ignoring international criticism, North Korea on MAY 25 pushed ahead with the second nuclear test and is even preparing for the third set of missile tests. If war was to occur on the Korean peninsula as rumored, how would North Korea’s dilapidated military equipment compare with South Korea’s superiority in number and quality?  The United States has a strong will to safeguard its forces stationed in the area and to extend its nuclear umbrella to its allies in order to secure against North Korea’s military force.  If war breaks out, there is a real threat of nuclear attack by North Korea.  However, they know better than anyone else that war is costly and that they may not be able to afford to maintain their top goals and keep their system intact. Therefore, North Korean policy makers know that preemptive attack would be suicidal and the risk would be too great to take that action. The threat of preemptive attack by North Korea is false.  They will use whatever means to threaten with long-range missile ICBM. However, regional wars can erupt at any time.

South Korean President Lee Myung Bak is being tested in its management of the North Korean crisis. In this present situation, the possibility of a similar incident such as occurred in 2002 with the Yeonpyeong naval battle can erupt at any time. The difference, however, between 2002 and now is that we no longer have in charge as Commander-in-Chief President Kim Dae Jung who still attended the World Cup Soccer final games with Japan even after hearing about the incident. However, the war of 6-25 and the Yeonpyeong incident of 6-29 both occurred in June, and so we cannot neglect the historical significance of this month.

III. Why are they doing nuclear testing and missile launchings?
1. North Korea’s internal affairs
North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-il collapsed from a stroke in August of 2008.  Without an appointed successor, this caused a sense of crisis in the State’s power. More than ever before, they sensed a need to increase maintenance of unity and control. There was a dimension of the missile tests to detract attention from the mysterious illness of Kim Jong-il and the question of his successor.

The following are true:

First, Kim Jong-il still has irrefutable power over the military and the party. Secondly, Kim Jong-il is the absolute dictator over all of the various departments (i.e. Security Council, Dept of Safety) and therefore has strict control over all of the citizens.  Thirdly, with the nuclear tests and missile launches, Kim has further isolated himself from the outside world.  In the final analysis, Kim Jong-il may be cracking down with nuclear testing and an economic crisis in order to increase his internal control and create external tension.

2. Negotiations with the USA In February of 2009 when North Korea fired its intercontinental missiles, Japan cried out that they were warheads. The UN resolution accepted North Korea’s claim that they were satellites. Because of this claim that they were only satellites, the event was essentially ignored.
Then North Korea became restless.

With the first Taepodong-1 missile in 1998 and the nuclear testing in 2006, North Korea was called into the 6 party talks and food aid and other requests made by North Korea were given consideration. But this time, saying that they would not be deceived again, the USA, South Korea and Japan ignored North Korea and did not pay attention to their tactics. Realizing that the situation was not tilting in their favor, North Korea launched the second nuclear tests and medium-range missiles. They also announced that in mid-June, they would be prepared to test an intercontinental missile that could potentially reach the US. But the US Secretary of Defense strongly warmed that should the missiles reach mainland US, it would be shot down and that North Korea would be attacked.  The US speculates that North Korea may try to launch these ICBM missiles before the post war Korea-US summit meeting to be held on June 16. Although North Korea claims that its nuclear testing is for self-defense purposes against its enemies, it is plotting to stir up a crisis so that through bilateral talks with the US, it might receive more concessions.  However, the United States says that it will not “ buy the Yongbyon nuclear reactor for the third time.”

3. Negotiations with South Korea
The tension between the North and South caused by the missile launches is being handled better by the conservative administration of Lee Myung Bak than it would have during the previous administrations of Kim Dae Jung or Roh Moo Hyun.  However, the long-term burdens of the South Korean government will become greater as time drags on and opposition to progressive conservatives builds and there are more divisions in public opinion causing deadlock in dialogs.

Supporters of the 6-15 and 10-4 Joint Declarations of South and North Korea will use all their strength to have the left wing politicians dominate the South Korean government by 2012, in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Kim Il-Sung’s birthday.  At a national event of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, union workers used bamboo sticks to fight the police. In 2006 during Roh Moo Hyun’s administration, at the Independence Movement of May 1 (World Labor Day), 250 people flew in on Asiana from Pyongyang to participate in this event.  Labor unions, professors’ emergency statements, democratic farmers’ organizations, the KTU, are all working together to promote communism in South Korea.

IV. Will war break out between South and North Korea?
1. USA’s Response
On May 29, Army Chief of Staff George Casey visited the International Institute for Strategic Studies and said that if war erupted on the Korean peninsula, US would be ready for war.  If North Korea was to fire its missiles, US will send special planes and bombers to intercept and ambush them.  On May 20, three battalions of special stealth fighter wings of the US LA Marines were readied in a state of emergency. And at present, 2000 marines are prepared and on alert, ready for orders to go to Korea as needed.

2. South Korea’s Response
South Korea, unlike the left wing government, has said that if an unexpected hot conflict ensues, then the commanders will retaliate with harsh attacks.  And if by chance the government becomes frozen and inactive, South Korea, in cooperation with the United States will be the first one to advance to the North. To avoid the problem of mass defections of North Koreans into China, it is likely that China will also be the first to enter North Korea. However, United States, China, Russia, Japan and South Korea all do not want to enter war.

3 Crisis of War on the Korean peninsula
Presently, in response to North Korea’s provocation of war, the combined US-Korean armed forces are closely monitoring North Korea, and have upgraded their alert from third to second stage.
There are many reasons why war breaks out, but policy makers will concern themselves with the cost of war and whether they will be able to handle the cost in order to win. North Korea may think it has a chance against South Korea alone, but it is a different matter when considering South Korea with the backing of US military.
Therefore, even North Korea is aware that for North Korea to initiate war on the peninsula is suicide. However, former Workers’ Party Secretary Hwang Jang-yop has stated that North Korea’s greatest weapon is not its nuclear weapon, but its 120,000 soldiers in the North Korea Special Forces. Even before the United States’ forces arrive in South Korea, these Special Forces will be able to turn the South into a fireball. Using the underground tunnels, 5-60,000 soldiers will infiltrate the South, hinder US-Korean operations, and destroy all of the industrial facilities. Suicide Special Forces will be in charge of assassinations, destruction of public buildings and indiscriminate shooting,
creating complete chaos. 
South Korea must show its strong resolve to resist and prevent North Korea’s miscalculations of war.

V. How do we foresee the future?

The year 2009 started off with coercive blackmail.
The North Korean People’s Army spokesman declared an all out confrontation. They said they will shut down the Kaesong Industrial Complex. And they shot off the missile and nuclear tests. They declared the armistice invalid, and increased the tension along the Yellow Sea coast.  What is the significance of all this?  Succession is a very uncertain. And with this, the Korean peninsula can fall into a state of upheaval.

North Korean policy maker’s miscalculations
The system of absolute leader is based on a system of a personality cult.  The successor must be seen as a hero to the people.  In the past, Kim Jong-il demonstrated himself with the 1989 KAL explosion, and something similar is demanded of Kim Jong-un.  The crowds are following news about the successor, Kim Jong-un. An unprecedented third generation of power The nuclear test is most likely being used to create allegiance to the new leader who is only in his mid-20’s. Loyalty to the next successor can be changed at any time with a power struggle.  When the absolute power falls, his personal influence also decreases. In this way, Kim Jong-il’s health must be good in order to secure Kim Jong-un’s success.

China used to be North Korea’s strong supporter of its system of absolute leadership.  However, after the North’s second nuclear test, the Chinese Defense Minister strongly condemned North Korea for its actions.  The potential of China-North Korea relations to change depends on the relationship with the next successor. This factor is of great concern to the United States. The Chinese will negotiate with the US over matter of Taiwan, while US will use North Korea in its negotiations. One must consider whether this to be a crisis or an opportunity.
Two US journalists were captured in North Korea and sentenced to 12 years hard labor. North Korea will try to use this situation to their advantage as bargaining chips in the negotiations with the United States.

North Korea is collapsing
1. Decreased productivity: food, industrial infrastructure, lack of goods, demoralization

2. Market Economy: Prohibition of distribution without monetary support

3. Financial systems and ifs officers paralyzed: Problem of successor, nuclear testing, Missile launches, apathy of citizens, and corruption of local officers.

4. Kim Jong-il’s health is deteriorating.

VI. What can we do?

1. We must help North Korean defectors in South Korea.
The North Korean defectors that are now living in South Korea are people who have escaped because they dislike North Korea. These are people that will return to North Korea when reunification occurs. Because they have lived in the South, these people will be best able to help fill in the gap between the two nations. Many of them have two or more jobs in order to send money to their families in North Korea.

2. We must help North Koreans that cross the border into China.
North Koreans that cross the border into China risk their lives because of financial needs and in search of food. Most of them desire to return to North Korea. With the help of NGO and Christian missionaries, if they do return to North Korea, they mostly speak well of what they have heard about South Korea.

3. We must help North Korean defectors that are hiding in China
These North Koreans defectors spend 2-5 years in hiding in China. These people suffer horrendous abuses and are victims of sex trafficking, but cannot return to North Korea for fear of retribution. These people are caught in the trap of slavery throughout China.  It is estimated that there are 2-300,000 people in this situation.  The way of escape is to bring them out into South Korea.

4. We must increase the frequency of radio broadcasts.
Through radio, people become aware of the differences between the North and the South.  China’s success in opening its doors to the West, the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union, the differences between democratic and communistic economies, people’s freedom and creativity, etc… Through radio, the people become aware of the outside world.

5. We must continue to send in propaganda balloons into North Korea. Balloons containing pamphlets with stories of Kim Jong-il’s corrupt life and testimonies of North Korean defectors living in South Korea and one dollar bills are flown into North Korea. One dollar equals one month’s wage in North Korea. When they find these balloons containing money, North Koreans do not report these to the officials who take the money away from them. These balloons have a high rate of success in reaching the North Korean hearts.

We can learn from the reunification that occurred in Germany. Much wisdom is needed in the process of narrowing the huge differences between two very diverse systems.

al sends


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