EPGAH: What was that bit about North Korea? They invaded South Korea, they massacred and kidnapped South Koreans, and in general, they deserved to be reduced to rubble and cowering.
If it hadn’t been for China’s interference–who didn’t want a thriving democracy at their border, rather than a country who would rather be illegal immigrant slaves than starve in their own country–there wouldn’t be a North Korea anymore, just a unified thriving Korea.
Why does North Korea get a pass, and why is there deafening silence over all the bad guys Russia and China became butt buddies with (And still are, like Kim Jong) and/or gave guns&bombs to?
Your average North Korean really hates the US and regards us as a deadly enemy and that first paragraph would be exhibit #1 for that attitude. I would not get your hopes up about a US invasion of North Korea being an easy win.
I do not know if it is fair to say that North Korea attacked South Korea. They had been attacking each other back and forth across the line for some time. Who started that back and forth is the subject of a good debate. The best evidence shows that the “North Korean invasion” that started the war was actually a case of two large armies attacking each other at about the same time. It is true that the North overran much of the South though.
Nobody is actually starving in North Korea anymore is how I see it. If you go there, you won’t see any starving people. Most people will look pretty well fed. But you might see a few middle aged men who seem far too thin for their age. That may be due to what they went through in the past. If you go to the rural areas, there are trucks full of smiling field workers everywhere, people pushing carts or with horses on all the roads and the fields full of happy workers. The rural villages look very respectable by 3rd World standards. If you go at harvest season, you will see fields full of harvested crops, in particular corn.
There are day care centers in many places that are open 24 hours a day so workers working any shift can drop their kids off.
North Korean industry is better than you might think. They have made a knockoff of a Mercedes Benz that looks and reportedly drives almost exactly like the real thing. I doubt if many could afford one though. Workers in factories are treated very well, much better than their counterparts in most capitalist countries.
The cities are full of workers too. Everywhere you go in Pyongyang, you see men working on the streets or on construction. You also see truckloads of working men going to wherever. They’re definitely pretty busy in North Korea.
The nights are a bit weird as they are short on electricity due to the oil problem. You will see tall buildings everywhere in Pyongyang at night with most of the lights out. The streets are not well lit up either. Nevertheless, there are some people out and about often, especially teenagers and young people, including girls and young women. They don’t seem to be worried about the lack of lighting. You even see people with their stands out selling things at night in the poorly-lighted streets. There are lone women out there manning their street stands on very dark streets after dark. They don’t seem to be worried about crime. I would gather based on the behavior of people out in these poorly lit streets that the crime rate must be awfully low.
And you will see people chatting and texting away on cellphones everywhere you go in Pyongyang. There’s an Internet, but it is mostly a North Korean intranet. Smuggled in South Korean soap opera tapes are very popular and many people watch them. Not much is done about this. Things are loosening up so much that they are having a mini-STD epidemic because so many married women are now having affairs. No one much cares about that either.
The price of oil went up 10X overnight with the fall of the USSR. I ask you how would the US fare if the price of gasoline suddenly went from 2.50 to 25.00? You think everything would be just fine. As a result of that, the heavily mechanized agriculture in the rural areas nearly came to a halt and many factories simply shut down and were not able to function anymore. That’s one reason that they wanted those nuclear power plants.
In the far north, there is a lot of gold mining going on, mostly illegally due to new finds of gold. I think a lot of it is hydraulic mining. The situation is pretty out of control and the state can’t get a handle on the mining. So instead they are just letting any North Korean who wants to go up there and mine gold, however, the state very much wants a hefty portion of your proceeds in tax. Still, gold miners are quite happy to keep at it as even with the tax, you make a lot more mining gold than being an ordinary worker.
They are allowing some business, and they even have a few rich people now. A few people have a net worth of over $100,000 in North Korea now, which qualifies as very rich. This was unheard of before.
The border in the north is actually somewhat open. They catch people going across all the time but not much is done to them as so many people are doing it. Guards on both sides of the border are easily bribed and it is not extremely difficult to get across other than some large rivers that are in the way. There is even a fair amount of cross-border traffic going on, as many North Koreans who cross the border to China do not stay in China but instead travel back and forth periodically.
Considering that North Korea is probably the most sanctioned country on Earth (quote from George Bush) with new sanctions being put on all the time, it is amazing that they economy even runs at all. They are locked out of the vast majority of the world’s banking system via SWIFT bans and although they are very rich in minerals, they are unable to export nearly all of their minerals. Their only real trade is with China. They do a lot of illegal arms trading though as it is one of the only ways they can make money.
Of course the treatment of dissidents is utterly appalling.