North Korea

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See also: South Korea, Korea under Japanese rule, and Racism in South Korea.
You made us believe, Comrade Kim Jong-il! We cannot live without you. Our country cannot exist without you! ~ No Motherland Without You

North Korea (N.K.), also known as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) is a country located in eastern Eurasia. It is one of the two countries, along with South Korea, that were created from the partition of the Korean Peninsula by the United States and the Soviet Union, after the defeat of the Empire of Japan. China and North Korea's attempt in the early 1950s to conquer South Korea by force ended in a stalemate. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, North Korea has been a focus of international concern and regional tension, which increased with its development of nuclear weapons.

Quotes[edit]

George Orwell's 1984 was published at about the time that Kim Il-sung set up his system, and it really is as if he got hold of an early copy of the novel and used it as a blueprint. ~ Christopher Hitchens
The DPRK presents itself to the outside world as a misunderstood country seeking integration into the international community. It presents itself to its own citizens as a rogue state that breaks agreements with impunity, dictates conditions to groveling U.N. officials, and keeps its enemies in constant fear of ballistic retribution. ~ Brian Reynolds Myers
We're far more indebted to imperial Japan than we'll ever admit. Without the Japanese annexation and the subsequent Soviet 'liberation', Kim Il-sung might have wound up a Presbyterian preacher. There wasn't anything close to majority support for a communist takeover in Korea, and most of what we say about Kim Il-sung's anti-Japanese heroics at Mt. Paektu is completely made up. Japanese colonialism also happily provided us with a legitimating ideology, even though our own despotism has lasted twice as long and is far more brutal. We even pulled our racist, semi-fascist, barracks-state political structure, which is neither Marxist nor Korean in precedent, from Imperial Japan. But we admit nothing. ~ Robert E. Kelly
Sorted alphabetically by author or source
  • South Korea is an extremely wired country, so has a lot to attack. Unfortunately for the South Koreans, North Korea has extremely limited internet connectivity and hence is a target-poor country. Hence, the only option is [conventional] war - or convincing the North Koreans that they can attack them in cyberspace as well.
  • Citizens shall have freedom of speech, press, assembly, demonstration, and association. The state shall guarantee conditions for the free activities of democratic political parties and social organizations.
  • I'm getting a little fed up with hearing about, oh, civilian casualties. I think we ought to nuke North Korea right now just to give the rest of the world a warning.
    • Ann Coulter, quoted in an interview with George Gurley in The New York Observer (10 January 2005).
  • Unification, as I have mentioned, can be a euphemism for conquest, a gloss for winning the war.... The south's disagreement [against North Korea's proposal for confederation] is in part due to the fact that they believe that the nation and state must be one, that a confederation is not unification, and that North Korea must be totally absorbed into the south, its state destroyed, and its people assimilated.
    • Roy Richard Grinker, in Korea and Its Futures: Unification and the Unfinished War (1988), St. Martin's Press.
  • In North Korea, every person is property and is owned by a small and mad family with hereditary power. Every minute of every day, as far as regimentation can assure the fact, is spent in absolute subjection and serfdom. The private life has been entirely abolished. One tries to avoid cliché, and I did my best on a visit to this terrifying country in the year 2000, but George Orwell's 1984 was published at about the time that Kim Il-sung set up his system, and it really is as if he got hold of an early copy of the novel and used it as a blueprint.
  • North Korea does indeed have plenty to offer. Its largely mountainous territory is rich in gold and magnesium. Mining operations are picking up, with serious interest from Australia and other extractive giants. Its mighty rivers could be key hydropower resource both to electrify the country and sell power to the South. It also produces agricultural staples like rice, corn, soybeans and potatoes, and of course there could be much more tourism, including to scenic Mt. Paekdu and to witness the centuries of well-preserved Korean traditions in Pyongyang.
  • Beijing-based Koryo Tours has increased its tourist volume from 200 to 2,000 over the past decade, almost half of which are American. The nation’s capital, the largest of its half-dozen large cities, feels like an Asian Kiev. Like Ukraine's capital, it has broad avenues with revolutionary monuments and fountains, but also a laid-back, leafy feel.
  • In 1997, genuine rapprochement with N.K. was untested; Kim Dae-jung’s Sunshine Policy détente was worth a try. But by the mid-2000s, it was also clear that it had failed. The Sunshine Policy was evolving into permanent appeasement and, paradoxically, a lifeline for a brutal regime that regularly threatened and bullied S.K.
  • The South Korea left often if confusedly excuses the north, and South Korea's most 'progressive' president, Roh Moo-Hyun, thought Japan and the U.S. were a greater threat to South Koreans than North Korea. This creates a weird dynamic. South Korea conservatives are 'internationalist', they support the U.S. alliance, while the left are the nationalists. Strangely then, North Korea and the South Korean left are more nationalist than the South Korean right.
  • We're far more indebted to imperial Japan than we'll ever admit. Without the Japanese annexation and the subsequent Soviet 'liberation', Kim Il-sung might have wound up a Presbyterian preacher. There wasn't anything close to majority support for a communist takeover in Korea, and most of what we say about Kim Il-sung's anti-Japanese heroics at Mt. Paektu is completely made up. Japanese colonialism also happily provided us with a legitimating ideology, even though our own despotism has lasted twice as long and is far more brutal. We even pulled our racist, semi-fascist, barracks-state political structure, which is neither Marxist nor Korean in precedent, from Imperial Japan. But we admit nothing.
  • North Korea, like East Germany before it, has long struggled to attain global legitimacy against what came in time to be seen as the 'real' Korea, or Germany. One East German stratagem was the global attention gained from Olympics victories, leading to the world's most notorious doping program in the 1970s and 80s. In a similar vein, North Korea seeks at every turn to accumulate and record prestigious foreign personages and institutions interacting with the regime in such a way that implies its existence is legitimate. The Kumusan 'Palace of the Sun', the 'sun' being the Kim family, houses a large collection of foreign recognitions, as does the Juche Tower.
  • Not only is North Korea the world's worst human rights violator, a point indisputably established by last year's U.N. report which likened its internal repression to the Nazis, but it is particularly harsh for women. The general culture is deeply Confucian patriarchic, habits that are slowly, too slowly, eroding in South Korea. Pyongyang elites, party, military, Kimist, are nearly all male, and they enjoy the services of the notorious 'joy brigade' as well.
  • North Korea's real ideology is not socialism but a race-based Korean nationalism in which the DRPK is defending the Korean race, the minjok, against foreign depredation. The 'Yankee Colony' South Korea, with its internationalized economy, American military presence, cultural westernization, resident foreign population, and so on, cannot compete with this racial purity narrative.
  • The state of 19th century Korea was very similar to that of present day North Korea. The majority of the population were starving and were enslaved by a small number of corrupt bureaucrats called Yangban, who were supported by the Qing Dynasty of China, just like Kim Jong-un and his henchmen rule North Korea with aid from China today. When Japan defeated China in the Sino-Japanese War, the Yangban lost their backing and Korea fell into total chaos. To avoid being invaded by Russia militarily, Korea chose to be annexed by Japan in 1910. This move was welcomed by the majority of Koreans and former slaves who enjoyed freedom and better lives under Japanese administration, but was resented by Yangban who lost their privilege to enslave people. The Yangban would soon launch an independence movement. My great-grandfather was a slave and was delighted that Japan annexed Korea because he was liberated and was able to attend schools. The average life span of the Koreans doubled from 23 years in 1910 to 45 years in 1945, and the population doubled from just over 12 million in 1910 to over 25 million in 1945 due to the institution of modern healthcare under the Japanese. Income of Korean people increased by tenfold from 1910 to 1945. The common perception in the west, that the Japanese invaded Korea, exploited Korean people and committed atrocities, is just a myth. If Japan were to annex North Korea right now, kick out Kim Jong-un and liberate majority of North Koreans, wouldn't they welcome Japan's annexation with open arms? That was exactly what happened in 1910.
  • We went over there and fought the war and eventually burned down every town in North Korea anyway, someway or another, and some in South Korea too.
    • Curtis LeMay, in Strategic Air Warfare: An Interview with Generals (1988).
  • Survival of North Korea’s government is based on its ability to harness absolute terror against its population, its possession of nuclear weapons, and its access to economic resources. Although North Korea requires all three of these to survive, contradictions between what it takes to secure each will make the regime’s demise all but inevitable over time.
  • Korean schoolchildren in north and south learn that Japan invaded their fiercely patriotic country in 1905, spent forty years trying to destroy its language and culture, and withdrew without having made any significant headway. This version of history is just as uncritically accepted by most foreigners who write about Korea. Yet the truth is more complex. For much of the country's long history its northern border was fluid and the national identities of literate Koreans and Chinese mutually indistinguishable. Believing their civilization to have been founded by a Chinese sage in China's image, educated Koreans subscribed to a Confucian worldview that posited their country in a position of permanent subservience to the Middle Kingdom. Even when Korea isolated itself from the mainland in the seventeenth century, it did so in the conviction that it was guarding Chinese tradition better than the Chinese themselves. For all their xenophobia, the Koreans were no nationalists.
  • Unlike Soviet citizens under Stalin, or Chinese under Mao, North Koreans learn more about their leaders than from them. It is not in ideological treatises but in the more mass-oriented domestic propaganda that the official worldview is expressed most clearly and unselfconciously. I stress the word domestic. Too many observers wrongly assume that the North Korean Central News Agency's English-language releases reflect the same sort of propaganda that the home audience gets. In fact, there are significant differences. For example, where the DPRK presents itself to the outside world as a misunderstood country seeking integration into the international community, it presents itself to its own citizens as a rogue state that breaks agreements with impunity, dictates conditions to groveling U.N. officials, and keeps its enemies in constant fear of ballistic retribution. Generally speaking the following rule of thumb applies: the less accessible a propaganda outlet is to the rest of the world, the blunter and more belligerent it will be in its expression of the racist orthodoxy.
  • Although North Korea's northern border remains easy to cross, and North Koreans are now well aware of the prosperity enjoyed south of the demilitarized zone, Kim Jong-il continues to rule over a stable and supportive population. Kim enjoys mass support due to his perceived success in strengthening the race and humiliating its enemies. Thanks in part to decades of skillful propaganda, North Koreans generally equate the race with their state, so that ethno-nationalism and state-loyalty are mutually enforcing. In this respect North Korea enjoys an important advantage over its rival, for in the Republic of Korea ethno-nationalism militates against support for a state that is perceived as having betrayed the race. South Koreans' 'good race, bad state' attitude is reflected in widespread sympathy for the people of the north and in ambivalent feelings toward the United States and Japan, which are regarded as friends of the republic but enemies of the race. But North Korea cannot survive forever on the public perception of state legitimacy alone. The more it loses its economic distinctiveness vis-à-vis the rival state, the more the Kim regime must compensate with triumphs on the military and nuclear fronts. Another act of aggression against the Republic of Korea may well take place in the months ahead, not only to divert North Korean public attention from the failures of the consumer-oriented 'Strong and Prosperous Country' campaign, but also to strengthen the appeasement-minded South Korean opposition in the run-up to the presidential election in 2012.
  • You made us believe, Comrade Kim Jong-il! We cannot live without you. Our country cannot exist without you!
  • North Korea is strengthening its defense because it has strained relations with certain states. But the militarization of economy is also the most effective way of managing the state. It provides a chance of modest feeding of great number of people.
  • As South Korea grew into one of the economic 'Four Tigers' of East Asia and left behind decades of dictatorship for democracy, North Korea developed into one of the nastiest and most psychotic tyrannies in history.

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