Monday, January 20, 2014

North Korea isn't what you think anymore

I just finished watching a Frontline episode titled, "Secret State of North Korea (2014). What a report!

North Korea's government's iron grip on its people is crumbing. Slowly. But it's beginning to happen, mostly because media creeping into the country. And we all know how hard it is to stop something like that, once it starts. However since like previous rulers, the current regime of Kim John Un is quite willing to indiscriminately kill people to maintain its grip, it may still survive for a long time.

Without help from outside. And there is outside help.

There is a South Korean TV show of North Korean defectors. There are people smuggling in media. It's reported there may be a million people there watching these smuggled in shows, films and radio shows available on wind up powered radios. Children of the top leaders even have seen these shows and many desire to defect.

All the current regime need do is to open up the country and give their people their freedom. If Kim Jong Un would only steal millions of dollars to guarantee he would live his life out in comfort, he could allow his country to open up to the world. He could even do it "legally". He would lose his power, but he could also live a very comfortable life until he dies. Is it ethical? No. But wouldn't it be worth it to his country for them to pay him off to give them the lives they deserve? Yes, quite so.

If he played his cards right he could end up being beloved by his people even more than his recent ancestors in giving his people their freedom. He could be viewed in the future as the new "founder" of North Korea. But he's been brainwashed himself and I don't have high hopes for this. People there believe that Kim Il-Song (Kim Jong Un's Grandfather) was much more compassionate a leader than either of his two descendants following him as North Korean leaders.

The NK people are starting to know about the world at large and actually are beginning to question their authorities. Even their authorities are questioning the authorities. Kim Jong Un has most likely been so cruel and iron-fisted because it's quite obvious to the regime they are losing control. Whenever that happens regimes tend to crack down, not realize the progression as it moves along, until finally there is a revolution, or other countries step in. Or millions may die, as in Cambodia with the Khmer Rouge where four million were lost overall.

One of the North Korean leaders who was under the previous regime and also a revisionist, and perhaps the West's best hope in positive change coming about, Jang Song Thaek, was the current leader's caretaker and guardian, and was executed recently on 12 December 2013. He was also Kim Jong Un's uncle.

The UK paper, "The Telegraph" has reported that the Kim family's former sushi chef has said that the uncle was executed over the 'pleasure brigade'. Kenji Fujimoto, a sushi chef who worked for the Kim family between 1989 and 2001, said that Jang Song Thaek was tasked with procuring young women for late dictator.

The UK newspaper also reported: “[Kim Jong Un] hates that kind of thing the most. His grandfather Kim Il Sung did similar things. His father also had quite a history with women. So having seen them, he wanted to prove that he’s different and that he would eradicate such practices,” Mr Fujimoto said.

It's questionable how wonderful a thing this is. So he may have some morals, but his own actions have made this questionable. When a rumor went around about his ex-girlfriend and a sex tape, she was among a dozen well-known North Korean performers who were executed by firing squad. 

From the Telegraph once again: "The 12 who were executed were singers, musicians or dancers with the Hyon's band, the Unhasu Orchestra or the Wanghaesan Light Music Band and were accused of making videos of themselves performing sex acts and then selling the recordings. All 12 were machine-gunned three days later, with other members of North Korea's most famous pop groups and their immediate families forced to watch. The onlookers were then sent to prison camps, victims of the regime's assumption of guilt by association, the reports stated.

On another who was executed: "Kim Chol, vice minister of the army, was executed with a mortar round in October 2012. On the explicit orders of Kim Jong-un to leave "no trace of him behind, down to his hair," according to South Korean media, Kim Chol was forced to stand on a spot that had been zeroed in for a mortar round and "obliterated.""

Kim Jong Un, is not a nice guy. But he is feeling the strain of losing control and things may only get worse. And since he's not that old, he's not that knowledgeable about being a leader. And he's failing. But before the regime falls, many more will die.

What can we do?

Others are doing their best in China and South Korea. the ex-patriots of North Korea have a definite iron in the fire in that they grew up in North Korea and still have relatives there, unless they have been imprisoned or killed already since committing a crime such as being related to a defector, which can lead to your family also being imprisoned up to three generations. In one example, family were rounded up who didn't even know they were related to a "state criminal" as he was only a "9th cousin" to them, and yet, they all went to prison camps. One of these many prison camps that echoes back to the old gulag style Soviet camps days is fairly new since Kim Jong Un took over and three times the size of Washington DC.

I think it's time we helped. It's not that I don't think we already are, I just think we need to step up our game.

There is already a radio station (so no need for a "Radio Free Europe" program) , TV show and locals doing what they can to open the minds of the North Koreans by smuggling in cell phones, laptops and thumb-drives with media on them. How about if the CIA started sending in cell phones with twitter capability hidden within them. The CIA itself has been bastardized these past ten years or so since 9/11 and it's gone from an intelligence gathering and subversion organization to pretty much an active paramilitary group. Recently this was attempted to be rectified by a bill submitted in Congress to give the drone program to the Pentagon, yet the Republican Congress blocked the move. Well, they are broken too.

We do have our own problems.

Some of the things they don't have in NK is social networking like Facebook and Twitter. The latter of which was so important recently in evoking serious change in other countries like Egypt, Libya and elsewhere. Already North Koreans have found through the availability of cell phones, that even though they can only make calls internal to the country, with changes made to the SIM cards, they can call out, instantly getting information and sending it out of country. There are high punishments for this and still, some of them keep trying. When cell phone first became available in North Korea it took two years for a million people to have one, the next year it took a year for another million and it's projected next there will be another million in six months time. It's not going to stop. So let's use it.

If the CIA were to start giving local ex-patriot North Korean black marketers to smuggle into the internal North Korean black marketers, supplying them with these altered cell phones, they could then wait until after enough of them have made it into the country. Flood the country with them. They could then "leak" information on how to enable an "Easter egg" in the phones, allowing a new capability suddenly available on any of these phones so that there would be millions of North Koreans who would have access to Twitter, or something like it.

It's really something to think about. And if Twitter isn't workable, I'm sure something could be set up to make this function available in the closed off country.

The biggest weapon against the North Korean child despot and his repressive regime is information and the active coordination of its citizenry, by themselves.

Think outside the box. Make it happen.

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