This World - Access to Evil

Twas indeed a rare thing screened on SBS on Tuesday night. And I'm not talking about the truly bizzare programme on a tad after 1am, which is a Turkish version of The Nanny. I shit you not.

Nope, instead I'm referring to footage of life in North Korea, courtesy of a fine BBC documentary from This World journalist Olenka Frenkiel. Part-travellogue, part-investigative journalism, part-propaganda-karaoke (Q - to a NK school kid: Would you like to send a message to President Bush? A: I want to tell him to get out of South Korea and stop slaughtering South Korean children.), this was engrossing television.

As well as the obligatory shots of the million strong NK army and some of the 35,000 KI-S portraits, the doco did well to demonstrate the major electricity crisis in Korea as well as some indication of the famine that has ravaged the country. Most startling was the examples of torture which is taking place in the gulags scattered through the northern part of the country, and revealed by a handful of defectors. The suggestion that prisoners are used as human lab-rats in the development of chemical weapons is startling, but then not surprising given the ruthlessness of the regime. The fear that the product of these experiments may soon be used on enemies of the regime are very real.

Finally, the doco sheds some light on the 'sunshine' policy of the south, which seems to be motivated by the need to prop up the incumbant regime rather than forming a united Korea. Afterall, if two Koreas become one, the flood of people moving from north to south would do much to drag down the standard of living in South Korea in a way that makes German reunification look like a picnic (with plenty of Bratwurst). Managing, rather than defeating, the enemy seems to be the South Korean goal.


Anonymous said…
In addition to the observations you make of the doco, I would like to highlight the way that most interviewed North Koreans were swept up in their own government's propaganda.

They love themselves. More than Americans do - and that says something. The narcisissm was electric. And that kid who mentioned (paraphrasing) that Bush wants to kill him stole the show a bit.

But effective propaganda aside, why does the NK government excel at convincing their ppl that the rest of world is out to get them? Either they are simply control freaks (which ties nicely with their Communistic values, as standard Western philosophy would have us think), or, do they truly fear 'Western invasion' and the 'evil Americans' as they say they do.

I don't know - it seems everytime we ask them why they want nukes, they tell us the above reason and we chuckle and think their just neurotic red narcissists.

And then bomb them into oblivion, I guess?

No wonder that kid doesn't like Bush.

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