Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 06-04-2019, 06:29 PM
RitterSport's Avatar
RitterSport is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 3,238

Conditions in North Korea (some spoilers for The Orphan Master's Son)


I am truly conflicted about where to post this. This thread is inspired by a book I'm reading called The Orphan Master's Son (spoilers below), so maybe it goes into Cafe Society. However, I'm hoping to get factual answers, so GQ? I'm about to express my opinions, so IMHO? Anyway, GD is my favorite forum, so I'm posting here.

OK, I'm reading this book called The Orphan Master's Son, and it is a novel about a North Korean man and his journey through life. I've done a little research, and it's apparently fairly accurate, with the author having done interviews with defectors.

If this novel is reflective of reality there, the conditions in North Korea are truly horrifying. I'm not talking about famine, which is horrible of course, but the level of repression, torture, murder, deception, theft, and so on. I've read 1984, and it seemed like a cautionary tale, but seemed too extreme to be real. However, reading this book makes it seem like an instruction manual. People just disappear, reappear later with different identities, there are speakers everywhere broadcasting daily propaganda, people constantly turn each other in, prisoners are routinely tortured to death, old people are shipped to labor camps to die (while telling their relatives that are being sent to a beach-front retirement community). Anytime something goes wrong, all the people construct elaborate lies to cover for each other, then tortured until either they confess what happened or truly believe the lies. People regarded as heroes are tortured to prove their dedication and to fully believe their own heroic stories. Women are routinely prostituted to powerful men, and even fairly common men get some prostitution vouchers. Wives of men who are lost, killed, imprisoned, or tortured to death are farmed out to new husbands. It goes on and on.

My questions:

Has anyone here been there? What was it like?
Does anyone here know whether that book is accurate? I trust the SDMB more than some review website.
It seems like all of this is for the benefit of just a few top generals and the Kim family, or possibly even for just one person (whoever is the current Kim leader). Even the top generals are in constant danger, so it really seems like it's purely for Kim's benefit. How does this system survive? How has there not been some general who had a relative tortured to death take matters into his own hands?
Has there ever been another country like this any time in history? Or has the combination of better monitoring and propaganda technology, along with an ultra-repressive regime, made this possible?
  #2  
Old 06-04-2019, 11:54 PM
needscoffee is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 7,061
This isn't much of an answer, but I just showed this to my South Korean college exchange grad student. He said it's 100% plausible and he doesn't doubt any of it.
  #3  
Old 06-04-2019, 11:55 PM
Velocity is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 14,547
AIUI, the author of that novel spent a considerable amount of time in North Korea himself firsthand, so he would have some inkling.
  #4  
Old 06-05-2019, 01:29 AM
Unreconstructed Man is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 195
FWIW, the late Christopher Hitchens visited North Korea. He said it felt like it’d been designed by “someone who mistook 1984 for an instruction manual.”
  #5  
Old 06-05-2019, 04:02 AM
Broomstick's Avatar
Broomstick is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: NW Indiana
Posts: 28,473
Quote:
Originally Posted by RitterSport View Post
I've read 1984, and it seemed like a cautionary tale, but seemed too extreme to be real. However, reading this book makes it seem like an instruction manual.
I've long said that North Korea in its present form was engineered by people who read 1984 and studied WWII and said "You know, there are a lot of good ideas here but they didn't take them far enough."
  #6  
Old 06-05-2019, 05:56 AM
RitterSport's Avatar
RitterSport is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 3,238
That's exactly right - it seems worse than 1984. And, I swear I never saw that Hitchens quote - I think I came up with the same thought independently.

I'm interested in further information, thoughts, research links if anyone can help out.
  #7  
Old 06-05-2019, 06:44 AM
asahi's Avatar
asahi is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2015
Location: On your computer screen
Posts: 10,029
In most authoritarian states in existence today, the average person is probably left alone as long as they don't start openly challenging the authorities. Even in modern China, people might privately complain about the lack of a job, the pollution, working conditions. They're fine as long as they don't talk about it on the street, and more importantly, as long as they don't start organizing. The more people who are exposed to one's "sedition," the more severe the consequences. For most of the world's people living in an authoritarian state, it doesn't necessarily mean that life is hell; it just means that you accept living with corruption and squandered resources. You accept that some people are privileged and have higher social status than you, and that they probably always will. Furthermore, you accept that there's little you or anyone else can do about it. It sucks in terms of knowing that your children's economic opportunities aren't what they could be, which is why the smart parents send their children to study abroad. Just keep your mouth shut and all will be well, or at least okay.

North Korea, on the other hand, is not just any authoritarian state; it is the textbook example of a totalitarian state. They aim for complete and total control of the mind. The Khmer Rouge and Mao's China were similar. I've spoken extensively with people who survived both Pol Pot and Chairman Mao's China. Government-induced disaster after disaster. Famine after famine. Purge after purge. Example after example of complete and total incompetence in governing a state and extreme brutality to make sure nobody complains about it. I don't know what conditions in North Korea are like, but I know that in the Khmer Rouge and Mao's China, entire families could be sent to labor camps simply because they were suspected to be hostile to the state. These camps included all kinds of hell. Life was, and is, truly a brutal experience, and one considers themselves lucky to have survived it.
  #8  
Old 06-05-2019, 08:14 AM
Horatius is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Ottawa, ON
Posts: 1,107
Quote:
Originally Posted by RitterSport View Post
It seems like all of this is for the benefit of just a few top generals and the Kim family, or possibly even for just one person (whoever is the current Kim leader). Even the top generals are in constant danger, so it really seems like it's purely for Kim's benefit. How does this system survive? How has there not been some general who had a relative tortured to death take matters into his own hands?
Has there ever been another country like this any time in history? Or has the combination of better monitoring and propaganda technology, along with an ultra-repressive regime, made this possible?


NK may be the best current example of this structure, but it's not unique in history. This sort of structure is well-known as a means of controlling a population.

You create a layered structure of classes, lowest to highest. Anyone in a higher class pretty much automatically has complete control over everyone in a lower class - rank hath its privileges. But, and this is the key point, you also have mobility between classes. If a lower class person shows sufficient loyalty/toadiness to the higher classes, and brutality to the lower classes, he can move up, and gain extra privileges. But at the same time, a person can be pushed down, and lose some or all of what they've had.

This produces a population of lower classes that will do anything they have to to move up - ratting on their neighbors, beating or killing people the government wants oppressed, whatever. It also keeps the generals you mention in line - they know that there's always someone ready to take their place, and that they can end up in a gulag at a moment's notice. When everything you have is tied to your place in the government structure, you support that structure with everything you have.

And even if you think it sucks, you never tell anyone that, because you never know who will take the opportunity to move up in the world by ratting you out.
  #9  
Old 06-05-2019, 09:38 AM
Velocity is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 14,547
North Korea has a 51-rank system called "sonbun" that is basically promotion and demotion as Horatius describes. You try to advance up the pole. But generally demotion is easier than promotion.
  #10  
Old 06-05-2019, 10:25 AM
puddleglum's Avatar
puddleglum is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: a van down by the river
Posts: 6,539
There is a you tube channel called Asian Boss that has a series where they interview North Korean defectors. Their experience are horrifying and similar to what you describe. For instance one North Korean was getting smuggled into China and he saw a plastic Coke bottle in the river and could not believe that anyone would throw away something so valuable.
  #11  
Old 06-05-2019, 10:53 AM
RitterSport's Avatar
RitterSport is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 3,238
It's all so cruel and pointless. If Kim just said, screw it, give me a few billion dollars and I'll scram, is there any way that the North could be folded into the South without massive bloodshed? I imagine that the SK economy is large enough to survive. West Germany was able to do it with East Germany, but there were definitely some hiccups along the way and East Germany was nowhere near as screwed up as NK.
  #12  
Old 06-05-2019, 12:05 PM
Smitty is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 827
Quote:
Originally Posted by RitterSport View Post
It's all so cruel and pointless. If Kim just said, screw it, give me a few billion dollars and I'll scram, is there any way that the North could be folded into the South without massive bloodshed? I imagine that the SK economy is large enough to survive. West Germany was able to do it with East Germany, but there were definitely some hiccups along the way and East Germany was nowhere near as screwed up as NK.
Kim would never do that, since even a few billion dollars isn't worth as much as being a living god with nigh-infinite power (even if that power is over a pretty shitty place).

I really don't think you could integrate the current population. It would be akin to integrating 25 million primitive tribesmen into a modern population of only twice that. Not meaning that as an insult, but from all accounts the average NK citizen is kind of on that level. On top of that, they are indoctrinated from birth that Kim is their god and that anything that smacks of the west is pure evil and wants to kill them. It would be like Satan popping up and saying, "God has pissed off. I'm in charge now." The Christians wouldn't like it, no matter how much he told them that everything they ever knew was wrong and that life is going to be great.

It would take 2 generations for any integration to happen.
__________________
There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots.
  #13  
Old 06-05-2019, 12:23 PM
Velocity is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 14,547
Quote:
Originally Posted by RitterSport View Post
It's all so cruel and pointless. If Kim just said, screw it, give me a few billion dollars and I'll scram, is there any way that the North could be folded into the South without massive bloodshed? I imagine that the SK economy is large enough to survive. West Germany was able to do it with East Germany, but there were definitely some hiccups along the way and East Germany was nowhere near as screwed up as NK.
Kim would be running the risk of assassination while being a foreign expat. Look at how his own brother, Kim Yong Nam, was murdered by VX poisoning while in Malaysia.
  #14  
Old 06-05-2019, 01:19 PM
RitterSport's Avatar
RitterSport is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 3,238
Quote:
Originally Posted by Horatius View Post
NK may be the best current example of this structure, but it's not unique in history. This sort of structure is well-known as a means of controlling a population.

....
Has anyone done the analysis on whether this is the worst ever, in terms of oppression, information lock, and other conditions? It seems like the combination of an island nation (or, at least, only one other country on the border), monitoring technology, and military technology has made this uniquely awful, but maybe the Khmer Rouge or USSR were just as bad.

I know that other regimes have killed more of their own people, but there's something worse here (in my opinion) -- it's a lifetime of psychological torture, with the threat of much worse psych and physical torture always hanging over your head, combined with near starvation conditions and a total lack of outside information or hope.

I'm a terrible student of history -- were other awful regimes as bad? Worse? Hard to compare? Were there any that lasted this long?

Since I'm asking questions, how did they get the first generation under control? When they started putting this kind of oppression in, there must have been many people used to the status quo ante.
  #15  
Old 06-05-2019, 01:23 PM
RitterSport's Avatar
RitterSport is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 3,238
Quote:
Originally Posted by Velocity View Post
Kim would be running the risk of assassination while being a foreign expat. Look at how his own brother, Kim Yong Nam, was murdered by VX poisoning while in Malaysia.
Maybe. I feel like if Kim were able to manage a peaceful transition to a merger with the South, he'd be a hero. In fact, when he was first taking power, I figured he'd want to do something like that -- he was educated in Switzerland or something and saw how things could be. How can he treat his own people like that?

I'll be honest, I find the whole thing so awful as to be literally unbelievable. I can't intellectually or emotionally grasp how this situation could continue for decades. I guess I'm just hopelessly naive about how awful oppressive regimes really are.
  #16  
Old 06-05-2019, 01:34 PM
Shodan is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Milky Way Galaxy
Posts: 39,351
Quote:
Originally Posted by RitterSport View Post
Since I'm asking questions, how did they get the first generation under control? When they started putting this kind of oppression in, there must have been many people used to the status quo ante.
Korea was controlled by Japan from 1910 - 1945. The Japanese built some heavy industry, but most of the population was still subsistence farming. So they were used to starvation, famine, and oppression, so to speak. Then in 1950 NK invaded South Korea and kicked off the Korean War, which has been going on (officially) ever since. So NK has been on a wartime footing, more or less, for almost all of the last century. It's all they've ever known. The status quo ante wasn't all that different.

That's most of the tragedy. South Korea has become part of the First World and a major economic power. North Korea, to say the least, has not.

Regards,
Shodan
  #17  
Old 06-05-2019, 04:39 PM
Broomstick's Avatar
Broomstick is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: NW Indiana
Posts: 28,473
Quote:
Originally Posted by asahi View Post
I don't know what conditions in North Korea are like, but I know that in the Khmer Rouge and Mao's China, entire families could be sent to labor camps simply because they were suspected to be hostile to the state. These camps included all kinds of hell. Life was, and is, truly a brutal experience, and one considers themselves lucky to have survived it.
In current North Korea entire families are sent to camp for three generations - meaning after you and your siblings are sent their your children your children's children will live out their entire lives in that camp, paying for a "crime" they never committed and which occurred a generation or two before they were born.

Accounts from both former prisoners - including one born in a camp who managed to escape - and former guards are absolutely chilling.
  #18  
Old 06-05-2019, 04:44 PM
Broomstick's Avatar
Broomstick is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: NW Indiana
Posts: 28,473
Quote:
Originally Posted by puddleglum View Post
There is a you tube channel called Asian Boss that has a series where they interview North Korean defectors. Their experience are horrifying and similar to what you describe. For instance one North Korean was getting smuggled into China and he saw a plastic Coke bottle in the river and could not believe that anyone would throw away something so valuable.
I read an account by a North Korean doctor who escaped across the northern border and, while stumbling around the territory just across the border, came across a bowl of food and immediately stopped to eat it, and it was the best food she'd had in some time.

Turned out it was dog food. She ate a bowl of food left out for a pet in someone's yard. She said when she found out it was dog food she started to understand just how screwed up North Korea was, that dogs in China ate better than doctors in North Korea.

Pretty much all stories from refugees are like that.
  #19  
Old 06-05-2019, 04:48 PM
Helmut Doork is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2018
Posts: 474
My question is, not advocating it but if Best Leader were assassinated, would it be same shit different day with the second in command, or would it be an immediate desire for unification and change? Is there even a stated second in command there? Would it matter if the assassination was done by North Korean leaders or foreigners?
  #20  
Old 06-05-2019, 04:49 PM
Broomstick's Avatar
Broomstick is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: NW Indiana
Posts: 28,473
Quote:
Originally Posted by RitterSport View Post
Has anyone done the analysis on whether this is the worst ever, in terms of oppression, information lock, and other conditions? It seems like the combination of an island nation (or, at least, only one other country on the border), monitoring technology, and military technology has made this uniquely awful, but maybe the Khmer Rouge or USSR were just as bad.
The USSR was certainly no paradise, but no, it was not as bad as North Korea currently is. Not sure about the Khmer Rouge - if nothing else, they didn't last nearly as long as the Kim dynasty in North Korea, they simply didn't have time to institute some horrors that North Korea has.

Quote:
Since I'm asking questions, how did they get the first generation under control? When they started putting this kind of oppression in, there must have been many people used to the status quo ante.
It didn't start as bad as it is now - a lot of the stuff was implemented incrementally.
  #21  
Old 06-05-2019, 04:52 PM
Broomstick's Avatar
Broomstick is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: NW Indiana
Posts: 28,473
Quote:
Originally Posted by RitterSport View Post
Maybe. I feel like if Kim were able to manage a peaceful transition to a merger with the South, he'd be a hero. In fact, when he was first taking power, I figured he'd want to do something like that -- he was educated in Switzerland or something and saw how things could be. How can he treat his own people like that?
Kim is, essentially, a God-King. His every whim is law. He can do whatever he wants to whomever he wants in North Korea and never ever suffer punishment for it. He has absolute power over everyone in North Korea, and he was raised to believe he was entitled to it. That's a pretty powerful mindset.

He can treat his own people like that because they are, essentially, his property to what he wants with.
  #22  
Old 06-05-2019, 04:55 PM
Broomstick's Avatar
Broomstick is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: NW Indiana
Posts: 28,473
Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmut Doork View Post
My question is, not advocating it but if Best Leader were assassinated, would it be same shit different day with the second in command, or would it be an immediate desire for unification and change?
Same shit different leader.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmut Doork View Post
Is there even a stated second in command there?
I doubt it. The current Kim has a record of killing off anyone with even a whiff of being competition to his position. Even who takes over when the Current Leader dies is not certain - it's nothing so clear-cut as "eldest son".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmut Doork View Post
Would it matter if the assassination was done by North Korean leaders or foreigners?
Probably not. Well, the details of the aftermath would differ, but I think you'd still wind up with a totalitarian state.
  #23  
Old 06-05-2019, 04:56 PM
Helmut Doork is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2018
Posts: 474
Quote:
Originally Posted by Broomstick View Post
Same shit different leader.


I doubt it. The current Kim has a record of killing off anyone with even a whiff of being competition to his position. Even who takes over when the Current Leader dies is not certain - it's nothing so clear-cut as "eldest son".


Probably not. Well, the details of the aftermath would differ, but I think you'd still wind up with a totalitarian state.
Thanks- I always wondered if his closest underlings were onboard with what he did and would relish continuing it, or if they know he's insane, go along with it to stay alive and are more than ready to "tear down the wall" if he died.
  #24  
Old 06-05-2019, 05:08 PM
Great Antibob is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,244
Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmut Doork View Post
if they know he's insane, go along with it to stay alive and are more than ready to "tear down the wall" if he died.
No reason to oppose the system for most of the ones at the top - even the ones who may be purged on a whim. Like most political systems, there are still haves and have-nots. It's abjectly terrible for the vast majority, but pretty good for a tiny minority.

And that small elite cadre at the top have a lot to lose. As terrible as it is to be at the bottom, at the top they have every incentive to keep things the same and would stand to lose a lot if the NK government collapsed.
  #25  
Old 06-05-2019, 05:17 PM
DPRK is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 3,269
It's easy to forget that while the good old DPRK economy is... less than optimal now, it beat South Korea's until the 1970s-1980s. Just goes to illustrate the potential catastrophic consequences on a national level of incompetent leadership.
  #26  
Old 06-05-2019, 05:20 PM
Velocity is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 14,547
Quote:
Originally Posted by Broomstick View Post
Kim is, essentially, a God-King. His every whim is law. He can do whatever he wants to whomever he wants in North Korea and never ever suffer punishment for it. He has absolute power over everyone in North Korea, and he was raised to believe he was entitled to it. That's a pretty powerful mindset.

He can treat his own people like that because they are, essentially, his property to what he wants with.
I would imagine that, no matter how absolute his power may be, someone like Kim is perfectly aware of the Sword of Damocles hanging over his head 24/7. All it takes is one assassin's bullet. So he can't completely disregard people's opinions. Trod on the helpless? Sure, but he pisses off various military or governmental factions at his own peril.
  #27  
Old 06-05-2019, 05:22 PM
Velocity is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 14,547
Quote:
Originally Posted by RitterSport View Post
Maybe. I feel like if Kim were able to manage a peaceful transition to a merger with the South, he'd be a hero.
Unfortunately, there are people within North Korea who would not consider Kim a hero for doing this, and all it takes, again, is one assassin.
  #28  
Old 06-05-2019, 05:35 PM
Broomstick's Avatar
Broomstick is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: NW Indiana
Posts: 28,473
Quote:
Originally Posted by Velocity View Post
I would imagine that, no matter how absolute his power may be, someone like Kim is perfectly aware of the Sword of Damocles hanging over his head 24/7. All it takes is one assassin's bullet. So he can't completely disregard people's opinions. Trod on the helpless? Sure, but he pisses off various military or governmental factions at his own peril.
Well, let's see...

He had the Vice Minister of the Army executed by mortar fire in 2012.

In 2013 the Vice Chairman of the National Defense Commission was executed. This was current Kim's uncle, Jang Song-thaek, and he was as close to a designated second in command as North Korea gets. In addition, his sister, her husband, a nephew, and the nephew's sons have been executed as well, apparently just for being relations of Jang Song-thaek

In 2014 the Deputy Security Minister was executed - reportedly by flamethrower

In 2014 the Minister of People's Armed Forces was executed.

In 2017 the current Kim's half-brother was assassinated by VX nerve poison (he was the eldest son of the prior leader, illustrating that succession is not necessarily by oldest son).

Somehow, I don't think Kim is the one feeling nervous here...
  #29  
Old 06-05-2019, 06:39 PM
BobLibDem is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Home 07 NCAA HockeyChamps
Posts: 21,309
Just out of curiosity, who would take over if Kim suddenly keeled over?
  #30  
Old 06-05-2019, 06:42 PM
Helmut Doork is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2018
Posts: 474
Quote:
Originally Posted by Broomstick View Post
it's nothing so clear-cut as "eldest son".

So who would decide who takes over?

Last edited by Helmut Doork; 06-05-2019 at 06:42 PM.
  #31  
Old 06-05-2019, 07:39 PM
Darren Garrison's Avatar
Darren Garrison is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2016
Posts: 10,925
Quote:
Originally Posted by Broomstick View Post
I read an account by a North Korean doctor who escaped across the northern border and, while stumbling around the territory just across the border, came across a bowl of food and immediately stopped to eat it, and it was the best food she'd had in some time.

Turned out it was dog food. She ate a bowl of food left out for a pet in someone's yard. She said when she found out it was dog food she started to understand just how screwed up North Korea was, that dogs in China ate better than doctors in North Korea.


Pretty much all stories from refugees are like that.

Froma a book called Nothing to Envy. The "dog food" was just white rice with meat. Another example in the book is a soldier being awed by fingernail clippers. (While searching for a link on that, I found that nail clippers have been banned from import into NK, and figured that Kim did it because of the book. But nope, it was the "good guys.")
  #32  
Old 06-12-2019, 03:28 PM
Broomstick's Avatar
Broomstick is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: NW Indiana
Posts: 28,473
Quote:
Originally Posted by Darren Garrison View Post
Froma a book called Nothing to Envy. The "dog food" was just white rice with meat. [/URL])
And... so?

That's still a better meal than millions of North Koreans get on an average day. And someone was feeding it to his dog.
  #33  
Old 06-12-2019, 03:40 PM
Shodan is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Milky Way Galaxy
Posts: 39,351
Quote:
Originally Posted by BobLibDem View Post
Just out of curiosity, who would take over if Kim suddenly keeled over?
Nobody knows, probably including Kim. He tends to kill people who might become his rival, and AFAIK he has no son or heir.

I heard it mentioned on the radio the other day that his health might not be good. He is quite obese, and disappeared some time back for six weeks and reappeared walking with a cane.

That's another scenario that does not bode well - Kim dies, and his generals and hangers-on begin a power struggle. One would hope that China and/or South Korea and/or the US has better sense than to get involved in a NK civil war.

Regards,
Shodan
  #34  
Old 06-12-2019, 03:42 PM
Miller's Avatar
Miller is offline
Sith Mod
Moderator
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Bear Flag Republic
Posts: 43,980
Quote:
Originally Posted by Broomstick View Post
And... so?

That's still a better meal than millions of North Koreans get on an average day. And someone was feeding it to his dog.
"And so" because the original anecdote makes it sound like he was blown away at a bowl full of Purina. "Food is so plentiful outside of NK that we can give people food to dogs," is a very different narrative than, "Food in NK is so rare that they think dog food is people food."
  #35  
Old 06-12-2019, 04:55 PM
Broomstick's Avatar
Broomstick is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: NW Indiana
Posts: 28,473
First of all - the doctor was a female

Second - even in the US it used to be quite common to feed dogs entirely with scraps of people food (aside from what the dogs could also scavenge). Prepared stuff like Purina products are pretty much post-WWII western world.

Having actually read the book from which the anecdote comes, in the original it was pretty damn clear what it was, and while the doctor was blown away by it when she figured out the food was intended for a dog rather than a person.

Last edited by Broomstick; 06-12-2019 at 04:56 PM.
  #36  
Old 06-12-2019, 06:52 PM
Miller's Avatar
Miller is offline
Sith Mod
Moderator
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Bear Flag Republic
Posts: 43,980
Quote:
Originally Posted by Broomstick View Post
First of all - the doctor was a female

Second - even in the US it used to be quite common to feed dogs entirely with scraps of people food (aside from what the dogs could also scavenge). Prepared stuff like Purina products are pretty much post-WWII western world.

Having actually read the book from which the anecdote comes, in the original it was pretty damn clear what it was, and while the doctor was blown away by it when she figured out the food was intended for a dog rather than a person.
Awesome. Thanks for sharing.
  #37  
Old 06-13-2019, 10:01 AM
Chad Sudan is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by RitterSport View Post
Has anyone done the analysis on whether this is the worst ever, in terms of oppression, information lock, and other conditions? ... were other awful regimes as bad? Worse? Hard to compare? Were there any that lasted this long?
After reading quite a bit about domestic conditions in North Korea, I do think it's the most regimented, most totalitarian regime in history. It must also rank as the most stable totalitarian regime in history; it's been around since 1948, with relatively little change. And the cult of personality around Kim Il Sung is arguably the most extreme.

That said, the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia (Kampuchea) changed society more radically. They expelled everyone from the cities en masse and sent them to work in the fields. They eliminated the postal service. They eliminated the judicial system. They eliminated money [!]. That regime lasted for just four years.
  #38  
Old 06-14-2019, 07:55 AM
Wesley Clark is offline
2018 Midterm Prediction Winner
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 21,986
Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmut Doork View Post
My question is, not advocating it but if Best Leader were assassinated, would it be same shit different day with the second in command, or would it be an immediate desire for unification and change? Is there even a stated second in command there? Would it matter if the assassination was done by North Korean leaders or foreigners?
From what I know, many people in top positions in North Korea know their system is evil, unproductive and unsustainable.

But the options are to either keep the perks of being in charge or be tortured to death in a revolution. This causes the top echelons of leaders to fight to maintain the system.

If kim Jong Un dies, the system will continue as is I'm sure.

In dictatorships a coup is hard. All branches of the secret police, military and intelligence spy on each other. Getting a unified military coup is not easy.
__________________
Sometimes I doubt your commitment to sparkle motion
  #39  
Old 06-14-2019, 12:07 PM
Buck Godot's Avatar
Buck Godot is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: MD outside DC
Posts: 5,775
Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmut Doork View Post
So who would decide who takes over?
The last person standing after killing all of those who were in a position to oppose him would decide. If Kim died it would be the night of long knives on steroids.
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 01:32 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

 
Copyright © 2017