I’ve always been fascinated with North Korea, because I cannot believe it exists in this modern world.
For the longest time, I believed it was as closed off as western journalism made it out to be. No research was done on my part and I only heard the saber-rattling, at least as it was rendered and spun by the major TV networks. But once I decided to actually learn about the “hermit kingdom,” I discovered how much information there really was.
I remember when Google Maps respectfully refrained from charting anything in DPRK’s borders, and I also remember when they lifted that ban and the countryside opened up in remarkable detail to the rest of the world. While vacationing in Ireland, I picked up a copy of Barbara Demick’s Nothing To Envy, a stunning, marvelous account of several defectors’ lives; perusal through my county library turned up more autobiographies of survivors who fled North Korea. Mainstream online media started to cover the lives of people who escaped, like Shin Dong-Hyuk, the man who was born inside the notorious Camp 14.
On Twitter I discovered more professional and dedicated analysts who study and comment upon North Korea and current events. They linked to each other and more sources, which I pursued, and they linked to other news sources, websites that specialize upon intercepting and interpreting news items from South Korea, China and Japan. This journalistic bloc covers stories that either don’t appear in mainstream media or turn up in the Washington Post and New York Times a few days later. Some of them are professionally written, some aren’t; some pause and report on reasonably verifiable news stories, others blab unverified incidents and add in their own wild speculation. Often they disagree with each other.
There is plenty of mystery surrounding North Korea, but there is an abundance of information for those who care to seek it. I’ve been poring over these articles and offering my personal interpretation of them on Facebook, but very few of my friends are interested in the goings-on over there. I figured starting yet another blog would be a good way for me to vent and express all my excitement with everything I read.
I do not provide objective or even well-informed analysis. I read a lot of sketchy news sites and educated commentary, and the available information changes rapidly. I know next to nothing about North Korea’s history and I have no taste for politics. Further, sometimes my commentary can become very emotional when I’ve had a lot to drink. Caveat lector.