It’s time for North Korea to grow up – but will the country change under new leader Kim Jong-un?

James Simms asks: Will the new administration decide that interaction with the outside world is not needed, or will they come to their senses and allow foreign aid to help the country’s millions of starving people?

North Korea Communist

The death of the communist leader of the most secretive nation in the world, Kim Jong-il, has sparked a lot of international interest regarding the future for this lonely and isolated country. Could the new administration decide that interaction with the outside world is not needed, or will they come to their senses and allow foreign aid to help the country’s millions of starving people?

Recently I was flicking through the TV looking for something to watch, when my eye was caught by a documentary on North Korea. It was a National Geographic program,  ‘Inside North Korea.’ In short, this documentary was set up under the guise that a doctor would perform cataracts surgery to thousands of people within the borders of this top-secret country, and at the same time allow his crew to take a brief look around this isolated nation. Well, I say ‘look around,’ but in reality the reporters were only shown the ‘best’ of what the country has to offer. The minders of the crew ensured they did not see the many dilapidated and shabby towns in which people were starving to death, but the towns where people were living a ‘comfortable’ and so-called ‘happy’ life (you know the country is dodgy when you need a ‘minder’ to show you around!). At the end of this documentary once the doctor had performed the operations, the patients were delighted that they could see again. But who did they thank? The doctor standing in front of them? You or I probably would. But them, not a chance. The poor deluded people walked straight to the front of the room and praised a picture of the leader Kim Jong-il for his greatness. Thanks for the poverty and harsh living conditions, Mr Jong-il.

North Korea Communist

The more you look into the history of the country, the scarier it gets. Torture in specialised camps is rife, and is one of the ways the country manages to keep people in line. For North Koreans, if they say anything dodgy about the country, it’s leaders, or woe-betide anyone who tries to escape, then they are thrown into one of these camps along with all of their family and friends (distant relatives included). Sadly, you’d probably be executed for saying that Jong-il had a dodgy fashion sense. It’s likely that the family won’t leave the camp alive. Thankfully, in the Western civilised world, free speech allows me to say that I don’t like Clegg without the fear of me and my family being thrown in jail.

An ex-prisoner from one of such torture camps gave an interview for Fox News a few years ago, saying that the torture was “worse than the way animals are slaughtered.” One article by the Daily Mail suggested that such camps hold about 200,000 people: the camps are clearly viewable from maps that Googe Earth uses, yet the country still denies the existence of these death camps. Sounds a bit like the Second World War all over again, doesn’t it?

North Korea Communist

The death camps are clearly viewable from maps that Googe Earth uses, yet the country still denies their existence.

All in all, it sounds pretty concerning, right? What makes things more concerning is the fact that the country has the capability to launch nuclear missiles, and that almost one in two are part of the army (both active and reserves combined). In fact, the army is estimated to have more soldiers in it’s active forces than Russia. Now, the problem I have is that countries such as China and Russia actively  supply the country with arms and military might. These two huge nations are actively helping the stocking of North Korea’s military, when at the same time people are being tortured and are starving to death. Why do these two nations have such a strange way of approaching things? I understand that they are ‘proud’ of North Korea for being one of the last ‘purely communist’ nations, but surely a huge military is pointless when the people in the country are dying from malnutrition and disease? If you’re going to provide a country with an arsenal of dangerous weapons, surely you’d also provide a huge amount of assistance to help keep the members of the army healthy and fed? The politics of Russia and China have always concerned me, but that’s a discussion for another day…

So, do I think that the new leader Kim Jong-un will become chums with the outside world? I doubt it. I think he’s daft not to if I’m being honest, and I think it’s crazy that people are actively being tortured and are starving to death, but maybe these things wouldn’t matter if I had a great leader like Kim Jong-un. If I had him as a leader then who needs food? Sarcasm. I’ve been speculating that the leaders of North Korea are scared. Possibly they are concerned that if their people catch a glimpse of the ‘outside world’ then there would be a revolt against a government who isn’t really taking the needs of the people into account. If they want to remain secretive and purely communist, then that’s their mistake to make. I think they would be very wise to accept help from the outside world to at least allow the country to have a fighting chance of being truly independent, rather than limping through with dribs and drabs being handed to them by China and Russia. Grow up North Korea, your little game of being the ‘super nation’ is yawn-worthy.