All posts tagged: north korea

Answer 2. Can you tell South and North Koreans apart?

South and North Korean soldiers depicted by Hankyung Daily.   Yes. First by their height (and physical build), then by their accent. Usually. Many younger defectors become fluent in the South Korean accent (I’ve witnessed them quickly change back into North Korean with their friends, but I do this too when I meet my friends from Busan). But the height difference – harder to change. One thing I noticed when meeting North Korea defectors was that the women were always wearing high heels. I didn’t initially give this much thought. “Well, they’re young women who grew up in or are currently living in South Korea, so of course they have to care about their looks”, was my logic. Heels are everyday wear in Seoul. The women were also very fashionable and wore impeccable makeup, so that ended there. Then came a day when I was gathered to talk with four different defectors on the same day. And it hit me – they are wearing heels because they don’t want to be a head (or more) shorter than everyone else! …

“I Am a North Korean Millennial”

  Young North Korean defector Yeonmi Park gives an informal talk at LiNK. She talks about the Jangmadang Generation – the NK millenials who grew up with the illegal but widespread market system. The elder generations experienced the “good times” – The North was much better off than the South after the Korean War (1950-53) since it experienced fewer bombings. Within years, the North collapsed and its communist distribution system failed, leaving the people hungry – while the South rebuilt all its infrastructure, becoming the world’s 12th biggest economic power today. Here is a short summary of Yeonmi’s talk: North Korean millennials have little, if any, loyalty to the Kim regime. They have access to foreign media, including South Korean and Hollywood movies. They see the regime as an obstacle to private wealth and are starting private businesses. Yeonmi’s family was part of the social elite and of the Communist Party in North Korea, and she was only 13 when she escaped. She currently studies Economics at Columbia University.   Edited on June 15th for …

EAHRNK conference on UN Inquiry into North Korea’s human rights violations

North Korea denies 2014 COI report, accuses witnesses and COI members of conspiracy I was in London earlier in March to attend the European Alliance for Human Rights in North Korea (EAHRNK)‘s conference on the Commission of Inquiry. The conference was attended by South Korean diplomats, North Korean exiles (the EAHRNK chose the term’exile’ over ‘defectees’, which I find to be more appropriate), journalists (British and Korean, including the BBC and YTN – Dan Damon was there!) , diplomatic and NGO representations (including UN Women), and of course, students. Commissioner Michael Kirby, lead author of the 2014 COI report gave a moving speech – I highly recommend you take a look at his speeches on NKHR. Dr. Lee Jung-hoon, Human Rights Ambassador of the ROK and professor at Yonsei University’s Graduate School of International Studies gave the keynote speech – very moving, I wish there was a recording of this somewhere. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales was also supposed to give a speech – but did not attend. The EAHRNK prides itself in including exiles in its organisation, and …

Update on NK related censorship

I recently visited a professor of history and he had some real copies of North Korean history books circulated inside the country. Thought it might be interesting to share. I am guessing the books are not illegal for possession if it’s for academic and research purposes. Complete History of Kim Il-sung History of Joseon (note: North Korea refers to them as “Joseon” while South Korea uses “Hanguk”) Kim Il-sung In the New Century

Where do North Korea and Porn meet on the Internet? On an South Korean IP!

  The pop-up screen from the National Police Agency Early March, I went to a launch party for an NGO called Arirang Institute. It’s mostly Americans and some Koreans working on cultural and reunification studies. What was fascinating was that the NGO is legally registered in the US, and that most members are not Korean. Oh, I should clarify, accessing information on North Korea here is illegal – if you try to access NK-sourced websites you will get a screen with a police badge that says “You were stopped from accessing this site because either (1) You are breaching national security; or (2) You are accessing porn sites, or gambling sites” (Yes, it’s illegal to access porn sites too!). One of the founders, Mike, who is studying for a PhD at the North Korean Studies University in Seoul, told me that the library does have all those books from North Korea (about Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il’s ideology, propaganda textbooks, and such) but no one is allowed to bring the books out or make personal copies – they can only read them …