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How Technology Gets the News Out of North Korea

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the information-finds-a-way dept.

Government 173

itwbennett writes "Kim Dong-cheol is a North Korean with 'a double life,' writes the IDG News Service's Martyn Williams in a story on ITworld. 'In addition to his job as a driver for a company, Kim also works as a clandestine reporter for AsiaPress, a Japanese news agency that's taken advantage of the digital electronics revolution to get reports from inside North Korea,' says Williams. 'When we started training journalists in 2003 or 2004, getting cameras into North Korea was a real problem,' said Jiro Ishimaru, chief editor of the news agency, at a Tokyo news conference on Monday. 'Nowadays, within North Korea you are able to have your pick of Sony, Panasonic or Samsung cameras.' The images they're capturing are 'often startling,' and it 'documents a side of the country the government doesn't want the world to see,' says Williams."

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173 comments

Samsung? (2, Interesting)

AndyAndyAndyAndy (967043) | more than 3 years ago | (#34091166)

Noticed they mentioned Samsung... I wonder why N. Korea is allowing S. Korean brands to be sold. Any ideas?

Re:Samsung? (4, Informative)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#34091212)

As opposed to Japanese brands?
I suggest you read some history of Korea.

Re:Samsung? (2, Insightful)

AndyAndyAndyAndy (967043) | more than 3 years ago | (#34091330)

Yeah good point. And yeah, black market is my guess. Still though, probably pretty risky for someone to go around taking pictures with one of these cameras.

Re:Samsung? (1)

Y-Crate (540566) | more than 3 years ago | (#34091758)

I'm not trying to be an ass, but you need to re-read the entire article. You completely missed the whole point.

Re:Samsung? (4, Interesting)

jojoba_oil (1071932) | more than 3 years ago | (#34092158)

I'm hesitant to post this; but here goes...

Despite the history of Korea being kicked around by the rest of Asia, there are many unofficial ties between DPRKorea and Japan. Whole communities of rich Juche supporters live in Japan. Even the official news outlet (Korea Central News Agency [kcna.co.jp] ) runs under a jp domain...

As for my hesitancy: Outside of the obtuse one-liners, the standard Western person (and most news media) seems to be completely uninterested in that region, yet still feels that they should analyze and report on the situation.

Re:Samsung? (2, Informative)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 3 years ago | (#34092626)

Despite the history of Korea being kicked around by the rest of Asia, there are many unofficial ties between DPRKorea and Japan. Whole communities of rich Juche supporters live in Japan. Even the official news outlet (Korea Central News Agency) runs under a jp domain...

There is a really great japanese movie called "Go" [wikimedia.org] about a teenage zainichi growing up in the north korean ex-pat community in Japan. Really a top-notch coming of age story and I thought it was pretty accessible to western sensibilities too, although there was a sense of being "dropped" into the middle of the culture with little explanation of many of the basics that any japanese person would probably just automatically be familiar with.

Re:Samsung? (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#34092718)

True DPRK always seems to be willing to work in it's own self interest. That was kind of my point. If they don't have a problem with Sony they sure as shooting will not have an issue with Samsung.

Re:Samsung? (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 3 years ago | (#34091224)

They probably aren't. My guess would be it's black market.

Re:Samsung? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34091388)

How about because they have had joint economic development for years at a special economic zone, perhaps?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaesong_Industrial_Region [wikipedia.org]

Re:Samsung? (1)

shoehornjob (1632387) | more than 3 years ago | (#34092874)

Sorry man. You deserve some mod points for that one. I'm spent.

Re:Samsung? (2, Informative)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 3 years ago | (#34091630)

If it's sold legally, they probably cover up the word Samsung and replace it with a fake North Korean brand name.

They've done the same thing before, for example their trolley system was allegedly "built in North Korea" despite the fact that it was several decades old and covered in German graffiti.

Re:Samsung? (4, Funny)

God'sDuck (837829) | more than 3 years ago | (#34092788)

...for example their trolley system was allegedly "built in North Korea" despite the fact that it was several decades old and covered in German graffiti.

By "German graffiti" I assume you mean, "German praises to Our Dear Leader by the Western pig-dogs who were so amazed when they visited the best trolley factory in the world that they were moved to paint their awe upon the trolley cars as a never-ending testimony."

Re:Samsung? (1)

shoehornjob (1632387) | more than 3 years ago | (#34092562)

I'm guessing the whole non existent infrastructure thing is the reason they import from S. Korea (that and they do make some good stuff).

Kim who? (1, Insightful)

Peristaltic (650487) | more than 3 years ago | (#34091176)

>>"Kim Dong-cheol is a North Korean with 'a double life' Not anymore.

Re:Kim who? (5, Informative)

Nimey (114278) | more than 3 years ago | (#34091290)

TFA says that this is a pseudonym.

Re:Kim who? (4, Funny)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 3 years ago | (#34091706)

I sure hope there is no one ACTUALLY named Kim Dong-cheol then.

North Korean secret police: Are you Kim Dong-cheol?
KDC: Yes sir, but not the one who is in this article!
Police: Better safe than sorry, you get 12 years hard labor.
KDC: I'm not a driver for any corporation! I don't have any cameras!
Police: Well then 20 years for embarrassing dear leader!

Re:Kim who? (1)

slick7 (1703596) | more than 3 years ago | (#34092574)

I sure hope there is no one ACTUALLY named Kim Dong-cheol then.

North Korean secret police: Are you Kim Dong-cheol? KDC: Yes sir, but not the one who is in this article! Police: Better safe than sorry, you get 12 years hard labor. KDC: I'm not a driver for any corporation! I don't have any cameras! Police: Well then 20 years for embarrassing dear leader!

KDC: But I haven't done anything to discredit our glorious leader or our glorious nation
Police: BLAM! BLAM! All hail our glorious leader!
Police: Are you Kim Dong-cheol?

Re:Kim who? (2, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#34092248)

Still, if the article is factually accurate with the information they give I wouldn't want to be the guy. They've got pictures from 3 different locations that the guy has been including pictures of people he's been in contact with. Now it seems that the pictures are careful to avoid landmarks and identifying features but a good, well equipped intelligence service would probably be able to identify him just based on the pictures and his stated occupation. North Korea's internal intelligence certainly has the practice, whether they have the data and equipment needed to do the analysis I don't know.

Re:Kim who? (1)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | more than 3 years ago | (#34092538)

Even so, I get the feeling that someone is going to die/be imprisoned (if they're lucky) over this.

Re:Kim who? (1)

argmanah (616458) | more than 3 years ago | (#34091292)

>>"Kim Dong-cheol is a North Korean with 'a double life' Not anymore.

For all you know, the name Kim Dong-cheol may be the American equivalent of John Smith. We too readily apply our local expectations to foreign situations.

Re:Kim who? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34091348)

Creamof Sum-Yunguy is the Eastern equivalent of John Smith

Re:Kim who? (4, Informative)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34091424)

Kim, is close to the 'average' nature of a name like Smith in Korea.

Re:Kim who? (2, Funny)

Vintermann (400722) | more than 3 years ago | (#34092160)

So Kim Il Sung is a bit like ... Joseph Smith?

Re:Kim who? (4, Informative)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 3 years ago | (#34092300)

"Kim" is even more common a surname in Korea than "Smith" is in English-speaking countries,. It's held by about 1/5 of the population, and if you were to put all of the Kims, Lees, and Parks together, you'd have nearly half of all Koreans right there.

Re:Kim who? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34092464)

Is the Parks where you are planning to put them all?

Re:Kim who? (4, Insightful)

Peristaltic (650487) | more than 3 years ago | (#34091464)

I have a "local expectation" that in a totalitarian state, there exists a reasonable chance that if they want him, he will eventually be identified, generic name or not.

Re:Kim who? (1)

bughunter (10093) | more than 3 years ago | (#34092680)

For all you know, the name Kim Dong-cheol may be the American equivalent of John Smith.

Or Heywood Jablome [snopes.com] .

that's not his real name (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 3 years ago | (#34091306)

From TFA, emphasis mine:

It was shot on a cheap camera by a man who goes by the pseudonym Kim Dong-cheol, a North Korean with a double life. In addition to his job as a driver for a company, Kim also works as a clandestine reporter for AsiaPress, a Japanese news agency that's taken advantage of the digital electronics revolution to get reports from inside North Korea.

Re:Kim who? (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 3 years ago | (#34091336)

That seems like it's no problem for Bond: James Bond. Funny how he can be a secret agent, yet everyone in the world knows his name and his agent number. That and he seldom uses an alias. ;)

Re:Kim who? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34091416)

Secret can mean more than one thing.

Re:Kim who? (3, Funny)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 3 years ago | (#34091750)

And, oddly, he's used at least 6 different faces and different accents, while keeping the same name.

Re:Kim who? (2, Insightful)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 3 years ago | (#34091828)

The name was the important thing for inspiring the necessary fear. You see, no one would surrender to the Dread Pirate Westley...

Re:Kim who? (1)

MonsterTrimble (1205334) | more than 3 years ago | (#34091994)

I knew a 'Lynch' once, back in Vietnam...

Re:Kim who? (2, Funny)

AdamWill (604569) | more than 3 years ago | (#34091972)

yes, clearly that's the *biggest* plausibility issue with the James Bond franchise.

Re:Kim who? (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 3 years ago | (#34092408)

Dr. Evil: All right guard, begin the unnecessarily slow-moving dipping mechanism.
[guard starts dipping mechanism]
Dr. Evil: Close the tank!
Scott Evil: Wait, aren't you even going to watch them? They could get away!
Dr. Evil: No no no, I'm going to leave them alone and not actually witness them dying, I'm just gonna assume it all went to plan. What?
Scott Evil: I have a gun, in my room, you give me five seconds, I'll get it, I'll come back down here, BOOM, I'll blow their brains out!
Dr. Evil: Scott, you just don't get it, do ya? You don't.

Correction (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34091196)

"Kim Dong-cheol is a North Korean with 'a double life"

Not anymore.

The Old Fashioned Way: ( +4, Interesting ) (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34091200)

by posing as "hikers" [npr.org] .

Yours In Osh,
Kilgore Trout

This really is more than I need to know. (4, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#34091240)

Really do we need to know how this is done? I am hoping this is a red heiring and that they are using other methods to get the SD cards out.

Re:This really is more than I need to know. (1)

laejoh (648921) | more than 3 years ago | (#34091666)

Listen. In order to maintain air-speed velocity, a swallow needs to beat its wings forty-three times every second, right?

Re:This really is more than I need to know. (4, Informative)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 3 years ago | (#34091814)

TFA mentions that there are already patrols near the border trying triangulate the mobile phones transmitting the images into China: I think the secret is out on -how- they do it.

Re:This really is more than I need to know. (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#34092748)

I thought that the story said they where actually traveling to China with the SD cards.

Re:This really is more than I need to know. (1)

Brandonski (605979) | more than 3 years ago | (#34092104)

Really..why don't they just use the interne.....oh yeah....um, nevermind.

Re:This really is more than I need to know. (2, Funny)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | more than 3 years ago | (#34092546)

I am hoping this is a red heiring

A communist inheritance?

EXCLAMATION POINT (1)

Flipstylee (1932884) | more than 3 years ago | (#34091276)

This is not how these things work, news to me, thank you.

Chinese cell phones (4, Insightful)

ElGanzoLoco (642888) | more than 3 years ago | (#34091324)

The interesting part is that they use Chinese cellphone networks, which leak into North Korea at the border, to get the videos out. (The Burmese opposition also does that, connecting to Bengladeshi networks.)

I wonder why China lets that happen, as it would be trivial for them to ban any data coverage in this area and/or report any suspicious activity to the North Korean authorities. Maybe it's a way for them to put some pressure on their North Korean "ally", which has become somewhat of an embarrasment to them lately.

If cell phone coverage goes down, they could still use carrier pigeons to send Flash drives to China or South Korea...

Re:Chinese cell phones (2, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 3 years ago | (#34091432)

I wonder why China lets that happen, as it would be trivial for them to ban any data coverage in this area and/or report any suspicious activity to the North Korean authorities. Maybe it's a way for them to put some pressure on their North Korean "ally", which has become somewhat of an embarrasment to them lately.

Maybe they use it as a cheap and easy way to get their own information out of the country?

Re:Chinese cell phones (1, Informative)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 3 years ago | (#34091446)

My guess is that its because China feels morally responsible for the welfare of North Korea. Quite honestly, without Chinese aid and trade, the people of North Korea would starve to death.

Re:Chinese cell phones (4, Insightful)

Notquitecajun (1073646) | more than 3 years ago | (#34091560)

I doubt that "morals" enter into it when you're talking about the Chinese government. More than likely, North Korea is a GIANT liability, and they are more or less passively pushing to draw North Korea into the real world slowly so that they don't have to waste resources keeping it afloat. The Chinese won't actively promote revolution or anything there, but they won't suppress anything against Kim Jong "license to" Il or his government there, either.

Re:Chinese cell phones (4, Insightful)

jandrese (485) | more than 3 years ago | (#34091640)

The last thing China wants is to have the North Korean government collapse and create a refugee situation where hundreds of thousands of uneducated, dirt poor, and starving people come streaming across the border. I doubt the Chinese government like the North Korean government any more than the rest of the world, but at least with the government functioning they're keeping their problems to themselves for the most part.

Re:Chinese cell phones (1)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | more than 3 years ago | (#34092560)

create a refugee situation where hundreds of thousands of uneducated, dirt poor, and starving people come streaming across the border.

Would they notice the difference?

Re:Chinese cell phones (1)

Vintermann (400722) | more than 3 years ago | (#34092184)

A sense of moral responsibility would be pretty far down on the list of why the Chinese government does anything.

Re:Chinese cell phones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34091504)

China lets this happen for two reasons:

  1. It's how their spies get messages out of the country
  2. The sooner that North Korea collapses and becomes less of a burden for them in Sino/American and Sino/Japanese relations the better

Re:Chinese cell phones (2, Insightful)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#34091682)

This is correct. China doesn't want a conflict with the US or Japan because they know they will take huge military and economic loses. Trade is what made China strong for hundreds of years and military conflicts with the West made it weak.

However they made a pledge to stand by North Korea decades ago and they will not dishonor themselves by turning their back on North Korea now.

They don't know the DPRK to totally collapse because that would lead to a refuge crisis the likes of which the world hasn't seen since the Second World War ended.

I'm sure the "official" PRC spies from the "Interest Sections" in the PRC embassy have sat phones but unofficial PRC agents and paid informers use this ad hoc cell phone leak to get data out.

Probably why they let it happen (2, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 3 years ago | (#34091550)

North Korea is very opaque, even for China and Russia. China can only go so far in assessing the state of North Korea through its official channels (even if they attach intel officers to their diplomatic mission). It's not like Chinese agents can mingle with the rest of society in North Korea like they could, if posing as "immigrant workers" or "tourists" in South Korea or Japan. This helps them get additional, cheap information.

Re:Chinese cell phones (2, Insightful)

Terminaldogma (765487) | more than 3 years ago | (#34091832)

Most likely because China could care less. Contrary to the image China projects about being best friends with North Korea, they are pretty much as sick as NK as the rest of the world. China has lost billions in investments to NK, and if you've ever lent $20 to someone and never had it paid back, you can begin to imagine how they feel. That being said, China does actively enforce the border, but there is a myriad of different political reasons for this. The "legal" reason is that they have pacts with North Korea in relation to this issue (hence why escaping NK aren't granted refugee status by China). Some of the other reasons include the fact that many Chinese citizens are just as paranoid about North Koreans coming across and taking Chinese jobs as Americans are about Mexico. Others have already replied to your thread and also pointed out that other reasons may include China have an equal investment in getting information out. China probably isn't interested in the trade aspect so much, as it's entirely black market and therefore next to impossible to regulate. Unfortunately I don't have an direct citations to back up the above, but I am basing most of my information off of "Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea" by Barbara Demick. It's an excellent read. Most people try and draw parallels to first world countries with 1984, but the sad truth is North Korea could be considered source material.

Re:Chinese cell phones (5, Funny)

denobug (753200) | more than 3 years ago | (#34091850)

If cell phone coverage goes down, they could still use carrier pigeons to send Flash drives to China or South Korea...

Well sir we are talking about a impoverished nation here. Are you sure the pigeons would survived without being hunt down and eaten before it crossed the border?

Re:Chinese cell phones (4, Informative)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 3 years ago | (#34092534)

Well sir we are talking about a impoverished nation here. Are you sure the pigeons would survived without being hunt down and eaten before it crossed the border?

Moderated as funny, but it is serious. I knew a girl who immigrated from a dirt-poor town in the chinese boondocks. She told me that in her town there were no pets, because they had all been eaten for food. North Korea seems to be even more impoverished than that.

Re:Chinese cell phones (1)

Darthmalt (775250) | more than 3 years ago | (#34092672)

Probably so the chinese spies operating in NK have a way to report home.

How do you stop a radio signal? (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 3 years ago | (#34093134)

How do you STOP a radio signal? These are ordinary chinese towers to which ordinary chinese telephones connect. That they come from the south instead of the north would not be impossible to block but not a standard on how cellphones work. And why would China?

North Korea isn't just a buffer for them between and the US but also a very nice "You think you got it bad Hong Kong? It can be worse." Any Chinese person who wonders if the Chinese communist regime is repressive only has to look south. It is kinda like Jews in England, a very anti-semitic nation, but compared to the main land, not so bad after all.

North Korea is a bad spot for the entire world but the cold war (that the USSR has for now stopped playing doesn't mean the cold war is over, or did you foolishly believe Reagan?) has kept many a regime that shouldn't be in power.

Do you think the US really wants its soldiers on the border of China (if korea was re-united) and deal with Chinese refugees? It is not so much that any country likes or supports North Korea but changing the status quo is VERY risky and the aftermaths of Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, the collapse of the USSR, Israel, India/Pakistan make the world powers very hesistant to change the borders of the world. So what if millions die, they die all the times. Nobody cares. (And don't think that because you bought/pirated a live aid CD that you did, because nobody needs to starve on this planet if some people didn't hog all the resources. Like me, and I have to admit in my deep dark soul that I don't care if some child dies in Afrika as long as it exports the chocolate and peanuts to feed my fat belly)

But don't think the Chinese government is somehow being nice. They send any refugee they capture back, to certain death without any hesistation. Kinda like the US sending mexicans to a country to a war torn apart by the drugs the same US seems to need.

World politics, very depressing.

Re:Chinese cell phones (1)

Mr. Foogle (253554) | more than 3 years ago | (#34093240)

If cell phone coverage goes down, they could still use carrier pigeons to send Flash drives to China or South Korea...

There is the small problem of getting Chinese or South Korean carrier pigeons _into_ North Korea, first.

And the not-so-small problem keeping them un-eaten long enough to fly home with the data.

does anyone really care about NK? (0, Troll)

alen (225700) | more than 3 years ago | (#34091386)

while in the army and stationed in south korea i came literally within 20 feet of the demarkation line and toured the DMZ. it was cool in a museum sort of way. but even though i'm originally from the USSR and remember life under communism, i don't really care about life in north korea.

sure it sucks for people there, but i'm not living there. except for a few crazy people who try to sneak in, most people want to get out. i can't do anything about the people living there so it's not a priority for me

Re:does anyone really care about NK? (3, Insightful)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 3 years ago | (#34091498)

To answer your question - yes. Lots of us care about North Korea.

It does suck to feel pretty helpless for the most part though there are a number of avenues available to help in small ways. Humans are a varied bunch in a number of ways and while you have one view point, many hold others.

Re:does anyone really care about NK? (1)

Mysteray (713473) | more than 3 years ago | (#34091506)

"Does anyone really care" that you don't care about NK?

TFA is about some specific people who do care about it, enough to risk death, or worse. Maybe that answers your question.

Re:does anyone really care about NK? (1)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 3 years ago | (#34091510)

... i don't really care about life in north korea.

sure it sucks for people there, but i'm not living there. except for a few crazy people who try to sneak in, most people want to get out. i can't do anything about the people living there so it's not a priority for me

Much the same could have been said about Afghanistan in the 90s.

Re:does anyone really care about NK? (1)

alen (225700) | more than 3 years ago | (#34091802)

afghanistan is Muslim which has a long history of conflict with Christianity. and Afghanistan has a long history of warfare with what we consider Western civilization. Alexander conquered it and it was known as Bactria then. The Romans fought there as well. The British invaded in the 1800's. and of course the Russians.

Korea hasn't had much historical conflict with the western world and the only reason not to like americans is because the government tells them. it's not like there is a history or recent invasion so your grandparents can keep the tension going through family/tribal stories

Re:does anyone really care about NK? (1)

Bob-taro (996889) | more than 3 years ago | (#34092056)

it's not like there is a history or recent invasion so your grandparents can keep the tension going through family/tribal stories

Doesn't the Korean War count as recent?

Re:does anyone really care about NK? (1)

alen (225700) | more than 3 years ago | (#34092358)

one war in 1959-1959

compare that to afghanistan. constant invasions.

it's always the little cultural things that amaze me. in the US the doctors say don't feed a child if they say no. my inlaws and my grandparents' generation believe in stuffing a kid till they burst and that a healthy child is obese by US standards. finally i figured it out. if you look at the last few hundred years of history in the USSR where i'm from there was always a war and/or a famine where 10% - 20% or more of the population died. so the parents would stuff the kid so if there wasn't enough food the body would live off the stored energy. and almost everyone i meet who had kids after WW2 in the USSR had at least one kid die in the womb or the first few years of life or an abortion due to lack of food

Re:does anyone really care about NK? (4, Insightful)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34091632)

Well, with the "I can't" attitude, you're right. But if you stopped thinking individually, instead more along the lines of "We can't" - then you'd be lying, because there is a lot that we can do together.

The reason why people make these videos and images isn't so that 1 person on the other side of the border can feel sympathy and try to revolutionize everythings - its for massive appeal to as many people as possible, so that a large group of people might undertake humanitarian efforts.

But - I mean, go ahead with that attitude. Does anyone really care about you? I mean, I've hardly interacted with you, but there isn't anything I can do to change your mind, you aren't a priority. In fact - I can't do anything about anything my own country - my one vote is drowned by millions of others, my recycling efforts are negated by others negligance, and even my job is so replacable by someone else that my contributions to society are really nothing.

If you don't feel particularily humanitarian about something - like you don't want to help the North Koreans, that's absolutely fine. Freedom of opinion. But don't parade it under the guise that "I would if I could".

Re:does anyone really care about NK? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34091690)

They fought to live as they are. Let the festering hell that is NK serve as a reminder of what economic 'fairness' and 'justice' looks like. They have nothing to offer us and we have nothing to fear from them.

Re:does anyone really care about NK? (2, Insightful)

rlwhite (219604) | more than 3 years ago | (#34092234)

No, they fought for what they thought was a better life and were misled and betrayed by their leaders.

Re:does anyone really care about NK? (4, Insightful)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#34091818)

I care.

Millions of people as slaves to a totalitarian monarchy and millions of men under arms destabilizing the entire region.

If there was an opening of the DPRK, following the refugee crisis and 10-20 years of economic hardship for the Republic of Korea to bring the north into Third World status, the United States, Japan, and RoK would all be able to back forces from the brink of war, downsize military spending and remove a nuclear threat from the region.

The US would be able to fold up an Army division, forward Marine base and most of an Air Force alone.

Furthermore it would be one less thing where the US and Japan oppose the Russian Federation and People's Republic of China.

does anyone really care about sanctuary? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34091974)

There's one bright spot when it comes to the DMZ. It's home to a lot of species that wouldn't thrive anywhere else.

I have heard that before... (1)

KingAlanI (1270538) | more than 3 years ago | (#34092918)

At my university, the Environmental Science department has offices next to the ROTC staff - I commented on this apparent irony to one of the Environmental Science guys, and he pointed out that a side-effect of military' bases secure zones as wildlife preserves. That effect isn't limited to DMZs per se; here's a local example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seneca_White_Deer [wikipedia.org]

Good job on his part fishing for a connection between two apparently-unrelated things, I do that all the time in other fields.

Re:I have heard that before... (1)

alen (225700) | more than 3 years ago | (#34093048)

in the 1990's the military became very environmentally friendly since it's good for business. you need trees and the natural environment for realistic training. other than having no training zones for endangered species living on military bases we used to do things like put plastic under trucks while refueling so that diesel fuel wouldn't pollute the water table

Re:does anyone really care about NK? (2, Informative)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 3 years ago | (#34091980)

Well, the starvation is shocking to those of us with an iota of compassion.

Also, some of the ridiculous follies of the government are just plain funny.

Example A: the worlds ugliest permanently unfinished hotel. [esquire.com]

Example B: To save on electricity, traffic is directed by police, evidently only women and they only turn counterclockwise. [boingboing.net] I guess because dear leader only likes it when girls turn counterclockwise.

farhan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34091396)

As long as properly used, technology is always supported every human activity .So be positive on the technology, and technology [electricly.com] will have a positive impact also on all of us.

Western spin (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34091408)

A place with no advertisements, no light pollution, and few cars sounds good to me.

The dictatorship is bad, but the economic situation is caused by bad location in the globe, lack of innovation to improve farming/manufacturing, corruption, and bad trading.

Re:Western spin (2, Insightful)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 3 years ago | (#34091520)

Starving to death is so under-rated.

And everything you list as being a cause of the problems of North Korea, other than geographic location are due to the dictatorship.

Re:Western spin (1)

mackil (668039) | more than 3 years ago | (#34091920)

A place with no advertisements, no light pollution, and few cars sounds good to me.

I think what the AC is really looking for is Sark [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Western spin (1)

bughunter (10093) | more than 3 years ago | (#34092790)

Hell, Esmerelda County, NV [wikipedia.org] is probably a lot easier to get to for most /.ers and nearly as remote.

Re:Western spin (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 3 years ago | (#34091526)

The dictatorship is bad, but the economic situation is caused by bad location in the globe, lack of innovation to improve farming/manufacturing, corruption, and bad trading.

“Bad location” that it shares with South Korea and Japan, and lack of innovation, corruption, and bad trading that are mainly due to the dictatorship and its repressive policies. But hey, if it sounds so good to you, why don’t you go live there?

Re:Western spin (4, Insightful)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 3 years ago | (#34091562)

A place with no advertisements, no light pollution, and few cars sounds good to me.

The dictatorship is bad, but the economic situation is caused by bad location in the globe, lack of innovation to improve farming/manufacturing, corruption, and bad trading.

Are you fucking serious?

Let me give you just one example. A doctor goes to NK to treat cataracts using a simple procedure. He cures the blindness of a hundred people in one sitting. When they take the bandages off, the first thing they do when they can see is rush past the doctor to worship the pictures of the Dear Leader and the Great General and thank them for the gift of sight. Of course, that's what they have to do in the presence of the authorities or any cameras whose contents are likely to be viewed by the authorities.

NK is a tin pot hereditary dictatorship, it is a necrocracy with a dead man as its head of state. It is a surreal world that shows what happens when absolute power gets into the hands of an unstable lunatic. Its people are the most oppressed in the modern world.

"Bad location in the globe" my trunks. It's within easy trading distance of Japan on one side and China on the other.

Jesus wept!

Re:Western spin - Dictatorship (1)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | more than 3 years ago | (#34092600)

It's inevitabre...! Kim Jong Il: Now you see, the changing of the worrd is inevitabre! Lisa: I'm sorry, it's what? Kim Jong Il: Inevit, inevitabre. Lisa: One more time. Kim Jong Il: [shouts] Inevitabre! Things are inevitabrey going to change! Goddamnit, open your fucking ears!

Re:Western spin (1)

PaulMeigh (1277544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34092682)

Let me give you just one example. A doctor goes to NK to treat cataracts using a simple procedure. He cures the blindness of a hundred people in one sitting. When they take the bandages off, the first thing they do when they can see is rush past the doctor to worship the pictures of the Dear Leader and the Great General and thank them for the gift of sight.

Parent is referring to "Inside North Korea", a National Geographic documentary by Lisa Ling. It's on Netflix instant right now. Happened to catch it last night, and it's a rare and interesting view inside the country.

Re:Western spin (4, Informative)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 3 years ago | (#34091586)

A place with no advertisements, no light pollution, and few cars sounds good to me.

There are plenty of free caves in the mountains.

The dictatorship is bad, but the economic situation is caused by bad location in the globe

As opposed to South Korea? And other surrounding states?

lack of innovation to improve farming/manufacturing, corruption, and bad trading.

Gee, this couldn't possibly have to do anything with the dictatorship of some inane guy...

Re:Western spin (4, Insightful)

Notquitecajun (1073646) | more than 3 years ago | (#34091596)

Except there's a SOUTH Korea with a rather NICE economic situation, plenty of innovation, a bit cleaner government, and booming trade. It's not all that far.

Re:Western spin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34091600)

Bad location in the globe? Seriously? That's the lamest excuse I have ever heard in my life.

They are surrounded by China, South Korea, and Japan. There's no economic activity going on in "location in the globe" whatsoever, I'm sure.

Re:Western spin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34091726)

As entertaining as it was to read this snapshot of reality as it appears from the little corner you seem to have painted yourself into, I can’t help but wonder how on earth any previously-sane person could really been far even as decided to use even go want to do look more like.

Really... what exactly does it take to bring someone to that?

Re:Western spin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34092018)

I would take 5 minute commercial interruptions trying to sell me Dr. Pepper over 24/7 nonstop propaganda. Asshat!

People appear to be starving in North Korea (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 3 years ago | (#34091712)

That's what I learned from this article.

Re:People appear to be starving in North Korea (4, Insightful)

santax (1541065) | more than 3 years ago | (#34091866)

Yeah but there is no oil there, so who gives a fuck.

Re:People appear to be starving in North Korea (1)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | more than 3 years ago | (#34092618)

No oil, but some nukes... you work it out.

Re:People appear to be starving in North Korea (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#34092366)

If you knew anything about North Korea, you already knew that. The article is actually about the methods, technology, and people that are working to show the world what the real conditions are like inside North Korea. There are a shocking number of people in the world that believe NK's official statements and state guided tours of carefully chosen locations. They see pictures of a somewhat backward but otherwise prosperous city, but only because the city in it's entirety has been build, maintained and even populated to create the illusion of prosperity when the rare foreigner comes to visit.

The reality is brutal; people starving, people murdered in the name of the government, people kidnapped and forced into slavery for some imagined offense. Without the people working to get the truth out there would only be the official news leaving the country, that's why the people who take these huge risks are so important to everyone in NK.

Collecting grass for rich people's rabbits... (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34091800)

My first response was that that was awful and reflected very badly on the country.

Then I remembered meeting a dirty ragged skin and bones dude I met the other day on the street in my own western democracy. He survived off of collecting bottles from rich peoples garbage. I wonder how that would go down as a single picture and story with no broader context?

While I still am almost certain North Korea is much much worse on average, it is an interesting thought. A single case a statistic does not make.

I've Seen North Korea (5, Informative)

bkmoore (1910118) | more than 3 years ago | (#34091992)

Before the Iraq war, I was in South Korea. As a soldier, I obviously couldn't actually enter NK, but I have been on the DMZ. The first thing I noticed about NK is that there are no trees. South Korea has forests, but NK appears to be clear cut as far as the eye can see. The NK Guards have soviet-style costumes. If NK weren't so dangerous, the DMZ could pass for a set in a Steven Spielberg film. But the three things NK seems to have in abundance (at least as seen from the DMZ) are oversized flags, martialistic music and Guard Towers. From the DMZ, North Korea looks like the biggest prison in the world. I am glad someone is sneaking cameras into the country and recruiting journalists, because the world seems to be willfully ignorant about how bad the situation is in NK. Hopefully NK will eventually peacefully implode, like East Germany, but the Kim family and his Cronies are enriching themselves at the expense of the Korean People, so they probably won't go without a fight. Maybe we'll get lucky and the North Koreans will deal with the Kim family the same way the Romanians took care of the Ceauescu family.

Re:I've Seen North Korea (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34092146)

As a Romanian, I can tell you that it wasn't the Romanians who took care of them, although that was the general feeling in the West.

The "good guy" in that particular situation was the KGB.

Re:I've Seen North Korea (4, Insightful)

KingAlanI (1270538) | more than 3 years ago | (#34092974)

When a KGB agent is the good guy, you know the rest of the situation is f*cked up...

Re:I've Seen North Korea (2, Interesting)

Algan (20532) | more than 3 years ago | (#34093196)

As a Romanian, I can tell you that I couldn't care less who was behind it, the guy got what he deserved.

shocking north korea video (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34092006)

http://www.vbs.tv/watch/the-vice-guide-to-travel/vice-guide-to-north-korea-1-of-3

When I saw this, it changed my perception (in a bad way) of just how messed up north korea is.

Image could easily have been from the states (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34092862)

I have _no_ sympathy for the NK government. But I find the overly obvious mental images and herd mentality of americans amazing. The appetite for others onto which bad qualities can be projected seem endless. The problem is that it appears as if these images prevent people from critically reflecting on their own situation.

The hunt for the "new bad" goes on and on and on, surprisingly for such a diverse nation everyone seems to latch on to the latest trend. I belive USA hangs by a tread woven from shared hatred of whatever the new enemy is. Known neocon strategy I know, but still surprising how effective it is

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