Saturday, September 05, 2009

What North Koreans believe about the world

North Koreans know little about the world beyond their borders. Here's what they're told about:

United States: Washington started the Korean War in 1950 and were forced to admit defeat three years later. Since then, the dastardly American imperialists have been plotting their revenge on the noble regime of Kim Jong-il. It is constantly emphasized that the long-expected American attack could come at any moment.

South Korea: It is portrayed less as an independent country than as the American-occupied half of the Korean peninsula. Mr. Kim sees himself becoming the Dear Leader of both sides.

China: Though Beijing almost single-handedly keeps Kim Jong-il's regime afloat through economic and diplomatic support, little is said officially about China and the recent reforms there. However, any North Koreans who come into contact with the busloads of Chinese tourists who visit Pyongyang would certainly notice how affluent and outspoken they are in comparison with their erstwhile North Korean comrades.

Russia: Though Pyongyang and Moscow still maintain good relations, little mention is made of modern Russia domestically. Joseph Stalin, who inspired and installed Kim Il-sung, is still referred to reverentially.

Capitalism: With the collapse of the Soviet Union, and China's economic reforms, North Korea portrays itself as the world's last truly socialist state, fighting off the barking dogs of capitalism.

Toronto Globe and Mail

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