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View Full Version : How does the repressiveness of North Korea rate historically?


Carnac the Magnificent!
10-10-2006, 10:27 PM
The 20th century witnessed the rise of numerous repressive regimes, but I'm wondering how North Korea stacks up against history's worst.

Admittedly, this is difficult to answer, not only due to the absence of generally accepted definitions (e.g. "repressive"), but also given the argument that the availability of advanced technologies allow despots to more closely monitor their subjects, but can also be double-edged.

Anyway, I'm hoping this can stay out of GD or IMHO.

smiling bandit
10-10-2006, 10:42 PM
As far as repression itself goes, it probably matches the worst Stalin ever put out. Aneqdotal (and we really have little else) talk about near genocide and inhumanly bestial practices of humiliation, torture, mutilation, and murder. Certainly, the country is desperately poor and has faced numerous famines caused largely by the government's deep incompetance and neglect. Their economic policies are nothing short of distastrous, leading to hunger and poverty across vast swaths of the nation.

As far as out-and-out body count goes (per population level), we can't say whether we're talking about a Burma/Myanmer + Pol Pot level of mass murder, or merely a ridiculous amount of horrendous death.

Rufus Xavier
10-10-2006, 11:13 PM
According to David Wallechinsky, Kim Jong Il is not even the worst dictator in power today. That honor goes to Omar al-Bashir of Sudan:

Since February 2003, Bashir’s campaign of ethnic and religious persecution has killed at least 180,000 civilians in Darfur in western Sudan and driven 2 million people from their homes.

The entire article can be found here:

http://www.parade.com/articles/editions/2006/edition_01-22-2006/Dictators

Carnac the Magnificent!
10-11-2006, 09:13 AM
This raises the inevitable question: Is body count necessarily the best indicator of repressiveness?

elmwood
10-11-2006, 11:20 AM
In the old Soviet Union, during the era of Stalin, I'm assuming that there was at least some "secular" culture; music, film, literature and art that didn't always deal with the glory of socialism and the greatness that is Josef Stalin. From what I've read about North Korea, almost every aspect of day-to-day life is tinged with propaganda, and you can never escape the message. From the time you wake up to the time you go to bed, it's all Kim, all the time.

I see some parallels between the way North Koreans are forced to live, and the way some fundamentalist Christians choose to live; they read only Christian literature, watch only Christian television, listen only to Christian music, play only Christian computer games, surf a filtered Internet, belong to only Christian organizations, and so on, with almost no aspect of their life being secular. If it doesn't mention Jesus, it's eeeeeevil! Same thing in NK, only replace "Father," "Son" and "Holy Ghost" with "Great Leader," "Dear Leader," and "Juche."

newcrasher
10-11-2006, 11:48 AM
In the old Soviet Union, during the era of Stalin, I'm assuming that there was at least some "secular" culture; music, film, literature and art that didn't always deal with the glory of socialism and the greatness that is Josef Stalin. From what I've read about North Korea, almost every aspect of day-to-day life is tinged with propaganda, and you can never escape the message. From the time you wake up to the time you go to bed, it's all Kim, all the time.

I see some parallels between the way North Koreans are forced to live, and the way some fundamentalist Christians choose to live; they read only Christian literature, watch only Christian television, listen only to Christian music, play only Christian computer games, surf a filtered Internet, belong to only Christian organizations, and so on, with almost no aspect of their life being secular. If it doesn't mention Jesus, it's eeeeeevil! Same thing in NK, only replace "Father," "Son" and "Holy Ghost" with "Great Leader," "Dear Leader," and "Juche."

Yeah, those fundamental Christians have driven this country to the brink of starvation! Just like Kim Jong Il! :rolleyes:

The fact is even the wackiest of Fundi Christians excercises choice in what they read, listen to, see online, groups they join. And if they surf a filtered internet it is by choice. One you may not agree with, but their choice none-the-less. I am willing to bet that the NK government does the internet scrubbing for its citizens, the few of them that even have internet access!

I find the Fundies as annoying as the next guy, but your characature of them living lives as repressive as the people under Kim's thumb is vacant. Tell me you were kidding and your understanding of Fundies and the lives of North Koreans is not as limited as displayed... :dubious:

elmwood
10-11-2006, 12:13 PM
The fact is even the wackiest of Fundi Christians excercises choice in what they read, listen to, see online, groups they join. And if they surf a filtered internet it is by choice. One you may not agree with, but their choice none-the-less.

Let me repeat what I said ...

I see some parallels between the way North Koreans are forced to live, and the way some fundamentalist Christians choose to live;

Of course, very strict fundamentalist Christians don't starve their followers, threaten to nuke Unitarian churches, and so on. The point I was trying to get at is that just as North Koreans live in an environment where they cannot escape Kim, and no apsect of their lives is Kim-free, some Christians choose -- CHOOSE -- to live in a similar manner, only substituting Kim with Jesus. Yes, the fundamentalists may live in tract mansions in the exurbs of major cities, while North Koreans are crowded into hive-like apartment blocks, but the near-total exposure to their "leader" in every aspect of their lives, and lack of exposure to things that are secular, may be quite similar.

Anyhow, when I think of oppression, there's more than just killing off your own people, but rather restricting the amount of freedom one has in their lives, and the ability to choose what one's environment is like. In the US, those fundamentalists choose to lead a completely non-secular life; they have the freedom to do so. In North Korea, though, one cannot escape the message. In the old Soviet Union, there was certainly a cult of personality surrounding Josef Stalin, but there probably was the opportunity to get away from the propaganda. (I say probably, because I'm really not sure.) You could read a book that didn't mention how great Stalin was, or listen to music that didn't have some sort of communist message. In NK, on the other hand, will you hear a song, watch a television show or see a movie that doesn't mention Juche, either of the Kims, the glory of socialism, the army, and/or the "evil American empire"?

casdave
10-11-2006, 12:41 PM
The Belgian Congo with King Leopold's involvement would come fairly high, such as the routine detnetions of spouse as hostages for return upon payment of goods and services.This would be one of the mildest of his crimes.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L%C3%A9opold_II_of_Belgium

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_Leopold's_Ghost

To be responsible for a drop in population of 50% in Africa which is known for high birthrates is quite an indictment

Ludovic
10-11-2006, 12:48 PM
You could read a book that didn't mention how great Stalin was, or listen to music that didn't have some sort of communist message. i'm not sure either, but if you could, it's not for lack of trying. Certainly many works of art were repressed or denigrated for being "decadent", i.e. not proactively preaching to the greatness of the Soviet State, even by exclusion. I also, as you, do not know that this desired stranglehold on even the arts was effectively made total.

friedo
10-11-2006, 01:03 PM
I am willing to bet that the NK government does the internet scrubbing for its citizens, the few of them that even have internet access!


There is no Internet access in North Korea. The DPRK government's own web site is hosted in China.

Carnac the Magnificent!
10-11-2006, 01:07 PM
A related question might be: How closely does Kim' North Korea approximate George Orwell's "1984"?

Carnac the Magnificent!
10-11-2006, 01:10 PM
P.S. Let's keep this as factual as possible, folks.

newcrasher
10-11-2006, 04:17 PM
P.S. Let's keep this as factual as possible, folks.

OK.

74.34%

;)

MrSquishy
10-11-2006, 05:18 PM
A related question might be: How closely does Kim' North Korea approximate George Orwell's "1984"?P.S. Let's keep this as factual as possible, folks.WTF? What a strange double-post.

Why would you ask a question that is impossible to answer factually, and then warn us to keep the answers factual?

:confused:

Carnac the Magnificent!
10-11-2006, 08:37 PM
Why would you ask a question that is impossible to answer factually, and then warn us to keep the answers factual?

:confused:


I thought my veiling message was self-evident, but by "factual," I meant "let's not make incendiary comparisons that get this thread kicked over to GD, IMHO or the Pit."

Carnac the Magnificent!
10-11-2006, 08:39 PM
veiled, Mr. Squishy, veiled.

Lumpy
10-11-2006, 09:46 PM
Check out Wikipedia's articles on the Qin Dynasty and the ancient Chinese philosophical system of Legalism. Apparently totalitarianism is nothing new.

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