Why A Revolution in North Korea is Unlikely to Occur

written by kansai2kansas as a "Cause-Effect" topic for his English 101 class in Spring 2011 semester

Unlike the recent uprisings which have recently happened in several Muslim countries in Northern Africa and Middle East, it is futile to wish that a revolution in the North Korea will ever happen. Apart from the lack of unity amongst its people, the citizens of North Korea are also not united by any thread whatsoever. Nobody dares to revolt against Kim Jong-il, the Dear Leader who enjoys foreign lobsters and French wine everyday while his citizens starved to death (Lankov 233). In this piece I will discuss the main causes and roots as to answer why a revolution in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is unlikely to take place.

First of all, in order to even ignite the idea of inciting a revolution, there has to be some sort of unity amongst the North Korean citizens. In most dictatorships today, the primary reason the citizens can unite themselves on an underground form with little fear of persecution is because they have a reliable telecommunication network. Mubarak was toppled by college students who coordinated themselves with Twitter. And the world gets to know about the evils of Gaddafi and Ahmadinejad through videos posted by their populace in Youtube. However, in North Korea internet and mobile phones are practically nonexistent to the common population (Lankov 244). It is against the law for most of the ordinary North Koreans –who number to about 22 million people—to access the broadband or mobile network. The only ones who have free access to the internet and mobile phones in North Korean territory are the elite officials of the sole party in North Korea, the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) and diplomats from the embassy of the People’s Republic of China, which is the only country in the world that has harmonious ties with North Korea. Even then, the rates for internet access are exorbitant (up to US$2/minute). Hence the people of North Korea are almost entirely blocked out of this 21st century technology.

Secondly, most citizens of North Korea have virtually no knowledge of what the outside world looks like. Despite having the permission to own tellies and radios, the only channel broadcasts allowed in the country are government-run stations, which continuously show movies and newscasts glorifying the self-reliant Juche ideology and the ideals of having a great leader like Kim Jong-il (Butler). Due to the difference between North Korea’s NTSC system and South Korea’s PAL system, it is impossible to receive South Korean channel broadcast in the regions bordering South Korea. The only ones who can ever watch foreign broadcast stations are those in the regions bordering China. Even then, the television stations are constantly checked by government officials. Anyone found watching/listening to foreign broadcasts can risk being sent to prison camp without trials. Therefore, most people of North Korea have no idea that people outside the country are living lives with relative freedom to voice out their opinions and physically emigrate from the country.

In North Korea, there is also an extensive network of WPK loyalists and spies, who are willing to report any dissenting opinions or mere japes against anyone in Kim Jong-il’s administration. Anyone caught voicing such opinions can risk being sent to one of the several labour camps without possibility of trial or worse, get a death penalty (Sang-Hun). Those who report such dissents will be rewarded money and/or protection by the Party, hence a lot of North Koreans can see that it is much better off for them not to rebel against the government. After all, if one makes fun of the government, what are the chances that one of your neighbours will simply let go of it without reporting to the authorities? Moreover, if one gets arrested and sent into the labour camp and yet is able to escape, the Kim Jong-il administration will in turn arrest several of his/her kins with similarly no possibility of trial. It is thus quite evident how risky it is to speak against the government.

In North Korea, Kim il-Sung –the deceased father of the incumbent leader Kim Jong-il— has a God-like status. With an official title of the “Eternal President”, it is compulsory for all citizens to display a picture of Kim il-Sung and Kim Jong-il side by side on their respective walls (Kristof). This is akin to the near-religious fervour displayed by citizens of Germany towards Adolph Hitler during the Nazi era. Due to the deified status of North Korean leaders, religious freedom is suppressed. Out of a population of 22 million, the true adherents of Christianity and Buddhism –which are the two largest religions in the country— number in the thousands. Even then, not all of them have the freedom to worship as they like, as all of the places of worship are government-monitored. Hence, it is evident that the true “deity” of North Korea for most North Korean people are its leaders. The propaganda even says that Kim Jong-il can control the rain and has the power to make sun rise or set. With your own leader’s family as deities, it struck people’s conscience that they may be monitored from their own souls regardless of physical surveillance. This in turn makes them afraid of rebelling against Kim Jong-il (or members of his Party thereof) at all.

All in all, the economy of North Korea, which is heavily centralised toward the Pyongyang government, is arranged in such a way that whether one gets constant food and electricity supply or not heavily depends on one’s loyalty to the government (North). If one is loyal, one will get a full stomach and constant electricity all year-long. If one is just an ordinary citizen who shows neither extraordinary loyalty nor disloyalty, one will get limited food rations and limited electricity supply (which can be cut off on certain days). Pitiably, this is the best paradigm of a supposedly utopian Stalinist society: direct control of the citizens by the government in their way of life, communication, and financial means. In contrast to the communist regimes of China and Cuba (which have in recent decades opened up to certain outside technologies which symbolise “freedom” such as mobile phone and internet), citizens of North Korea has no freedom at all: no internet, no mobile phone, no passport (with the exception of diplomats), and limited knowledge of the outside world. Hence, it is evident that it is much more beneficial if one shows loyalty to the government. After all, why risk danger for one’s entire family for a labour camp if there is a political system that can be so rewarding when one shows one’s fealty?

Works cited

Butler, Rhett. "North Korea: TRANSPORTATION AND TELECOMMUNICATIONS." Rainforest - Mongabay.com. Web. 10 May 2011. .

Kristof, Nicholas D. "Death Doesn't End Rule of Kim Il Sung, 'Eternal President' - New York Times." The New York Times - Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. Web. 10 May 2011. .

Lankov, Andrei. "(233) Famine: A Disaster Waiting to Happen." The Korea Times. Web. 10 May 2011. .
Lankov, Andrei. "(244) Surfing Net in North Korea." The Korea Times. Web. 10 May 2011. .

"North Korea Economy." Expedited Visas, Visa Applications, Rush Passport, Passports, Travel. Web. 10 May 2011. .

Sang-Hun, Choe. "An Escapee Tells of Life and Death in North Korea's Labor Camps - The New York Times." The New York Times - Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. Web. 10 May 2011. .


It's too late for swimming

The iPhone's weather app is showing a temperature of 13°C , which means it's too late for swimming now. It's a pity that none of us had the chance (nor the wills) to swim when it was still warm outside.

A friend suggested going to Great Wolf Lodge in Mason, OH if we want to have an indoor waterpark experience. I guess I'll check the place out after the bills are paid for the month.

I have been blogwalking on some Indonesian blogs lately, and seeing some snapshots of Indonesian cuisine made my mouth water. Especially when it comes to my fave Indonesian meal of Martabak and Pempek Palembang (I blame this on Kimi! Oh by the way, I've put your link in my blogroll! ^^).

An Indonesian friend in California told me that even Indonesian restaurants in the country (which mostly converge in California, NY, and Texas) don't taste as original as the ones back in the tropics, particularly since their respective owners want to comfort more of the American people's tastebuds.

Shucks. I should make it a target to have an annual pilgrimage back to Singapore or Indonesia or even Netherlands to taste Indonesian food every once in a while.


"You Don't Know Jack" movie review

Jack Kevorkian, whom the media oftly refer to as "Doctor Death", gained notoriety in the medical world for audaciously promoted a peaceful termination to agonising lives of people struck with incurable diseases. You Don't Know Jack is a biographical movie of his dealings with the issue of mercy-killing, starring the legendary actor Al Pacino as the lead role.

The intro started with Kevorkian regretting to have seen his own mother dying in such pain during the last days of her life. Partially blaming himself for not taking action, he henceforth intended to give peace to those people who no longer have any satisfying or fulfilling lives, such as those sentenced with Lou Gehrig's disease, pancreatic cancer, and other terminal illnesses. However, he was not the Grim Reaper as some cult fiction portrays him to be. For one, he does not even charge those patients. Also, before he could end a patient's life (painlessly) with a gas device, he always made sure that he videotaped one last interview with the patients and their family, in order to ensure the legal system in the future that he did not just murder those patients on a whim. He even dissuaded most patients from ending their lives when there was still hope. Such a case was shown when Kevorkian asked a patient whose body was slightly scarred from a fire accident to refrain from suicidal wills. Kevorkian told him that the real problem was not the fire burns but clinical depression, which was curable. Eventually, that patient decided to choose life, which Kevorkian happily obliged.

The latter half of the movie deals with Kevorkian's legal battles against the state of Michigan, which sparked a ferocious nationwide debate on the issue of mercy-killing.

I personally find the movie highly amusing due to the fact that it is well-produced. Al Pacino plays Kevorkian so well that he even adopts Kevorkian's Detroit accent. The movie also carries a sardonic, comical undertone by showing Kevorkian's genius outside the medical field (he sold some surrealistic paintings to art galleries) and the soundtrack of Bach played throughout the duration(who is Kevorkian's favourite musician).

In the end, it does not matter whether you are a conservative religious or an atheist...it is highly likely that you will find this movie as amusing as I did. You Don't Know Jack does not attempt to argue on whether physician-assisted suicide is right or wrong. It is, simply put, a movie about Kevorkian's dealings with euthanasia, his patients, and the consequences he would face later on in public.

The morality behind euthanasia is for yourself to decide.

Rating: 8 stars out of 10


American Sign Language

I registered for the classes of ASL 101 and ASL 102 back-to-back as a foreign language requirement to complete my Associates. And in contrary to what most other people say, I think this is among the hardest languages I've studied, especially since I'm not adept in facial expressions.

As a result, I would have dropped my ASL 102 at the completion of 101 next month....if not for the highly-attractive young female professor who is teaching the class.

I love coming to this class. It is probably the first course where I have a perfect attendance (i.e., no skiving off classes).

Seriously, I do think that more universities should have a professor like her.

A slightly tall brunette-haired lady in her mid-20s, with a lithe figure, sweet complexion and always wears nice cardigans... ASL is probably the only class in my campus where male students don't doze at all throughout the lecture, not even for one minute. We just stare at those beautiful eyes, even if we don't understand one bit what the hell she's talking about.

So why did I decide to register for the class anyway?

(FYI, I had no knowledge of who the teacher was until the first day of class)

Because of the movie Orphan. Yes, that psycho-thriller movie about the adopted girl who ended up almost killing the entire family.

I rated the movie 4.0/5.0 in Flixster, and it was indeed one of the best movies in 2009. The movie has one of the characters, Max, who is a deaf-mute girl who communicates with her family using ASL.

It got me saying: Oh my, what a cute language!

I always have an adjective for different languages. While German is coarse, English is practical, Japanese is awesome, French is lovely and Chinese Mandarin is complicated, I'd say that ASL is cute.

I didn't know if I ended up liking ASL because I thought that the kid Max expressed the ASL well, or simply because I liked ASL for what it looks like. Anyway I ended up registering for these classes.

Little did I know that I would change my opinion of ASL later on. I should've known it.

But I don't regret taking this class. Why should I?

'post~script The professor unfortunately is happily married and has a toddler. Which kinda shucks, but that does not discourage males from looking at her anyway! Tsk tsk.. Shame on them! Haha.


(499th) day of Summer

While signs of autumn seemed to have arrived on early September (it dropped from 28 C to 12 C in less than 24 hours, how annoying is that?), some people just can't wait to have autumn back on the doorstep.

Ah, autumn!

The most romantic month of the year in Kentucky is not February.

It's October, when the rustic charm resonates in the surroundings with early steps of autumn. Autumn in Kentucky also tends to have more rain than any other time of the year, which gives the impression of living in the outskirts of Oregon.

Calm, peaceful, and slightly cool. Makes you want to cuddle with your lover.

When I get married, I'd probably have the ceremony outdoors in autumn. Winter would be freezing while summer would be too sweltering.

Spring would confuse people as to what dress code one should wear, since the cold days and hot days come alternately.

Not that I have anyone in mind though.


A decision (not) to delete Facebook

Facebook's policy on account deletion requires its users to deactivate for a period of 14 days without any logging whatsoever. Those who are tepid hence could always decide to log back in and reactivate their accounts.

Take me, as an example.

After mulling it over, I have decided not to delete my account. There are simply some whose main avenue of communication with me is thru Facebook, and should I delete my account, there is a good chance I may never see them again.

I shall be deactivating it temporarily though, until I sort some personal matters out.


Why old movies are not worth watching

In deciding whether a movie is worth watching, I tend to have several aspects in mind. I favour movies that are:

  1. Hollywood, French, German, or Japanese produced

  2. Produced after year 1999

It's not about BWs or silent movies, really (though I have to admit, I am not knowledgeable in that aspect since I have not watched any BW or silent before).

Despite being a young film aficionado, I am not biased against indie movies. Just because a movie is indie does not mean that it is going to suck (though I admit around 50% to 60% of indie movies have a poorly-written script).

Here are several reasons why think that any movies produced before 1999 are not worth watching:

1. Movies of those era (especially Westerns and dramas produced between 1950 to 1989), tend to have a loud, blaring classical soundtrack that eats up the first 10 minutes of the movie intro.

I find that very annoying, especially when that soundtrack has almost the same decibel loudness as the characters speaking in the movie. I'd rather watch something where I can hear the characters speaking...I'm not deaf, I don't need soundtracks that loud and that long.

2. Older movies tend to have poorer CGI (this should be obvious).

I am not a fan of CGI-heavy movies like the The Transformers or Chronicles of Narnia franchises, but I personally think that if you have to have CGI in your movie, you gotta do it right, baby! There is nothing more painful than having to be entertained with a good storyline in the beginning, only to have your eyes hurt having to watch poor attempts at CGI by prehistoric people.

3. That classical soundtrack I mentioned above in No.1 would be played in endless loop throughout 80% of the movie duration.

with the same loud, blaring decibels.


Of course, exceptions do exist. I find both The Sound of Music (1965) and Heidi (1993) highly likable.

But such exceptions are rare. Until this day, I still cannot get myself to watch highly-recommended oldies such as Scarface, The Godfather franchise, or Lawrence of Arabia. I just haven't got the willpower to watch them yet.


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