Is there a state that faces a specific existential threat right now? Yes again. That state is South Korea.
South Korea has no nuclear weapons of its own, though the U.S. has extended its “nuclear umbrella.” Its immediate neighbor, North Korea, does have nukes, which it tested and developed while the U.S. was distracted in Iraq. North Korea’s leaders are peculiar, to put it mildly, and have repeatedly promised / threatened to destroy South Korea in a “sea of fire” in rhetoric as blood-curdling as any anti-Israel rant from Iran. South Korea’s population center is practically on the border with the North, rather than several time zones away as with Iran relative to Israel.
It would be better for everyone except North Korea if it had no nukes, but the South Korean president was not invited to address Congress during the GW Bush years to demand tougher action against North Korea.
Is Israel’s situation comparable to that on the Korean peninsula—or, to use the more familiar parallel, to that of European Jews menaced by Hitler in 1938? It most emphatically is not, if you pay any attention to the underlying facts.
The most obvious difference is that Israel is the incumbent (if unacknowledged) nuclear power in the region, with the universally understood ability to annihilate any attacker in a retaliatory raid. The only similarity between this power balance and the predicament of European Jewry in 1938 is the anti-Semitism. In 1938 the Jews of Germany, Poland, France, and Russia were a stateless minority with no military force of their own to protect them and no foreign power (including the U.S.) willing to step in. In 2015 Israel is a powerful independent state, more heavily armed than any adversary.
Think of this parallel: The full-tilt U.S. slave economy of the 1850s and the police-shooting abuses of 2015 have in common racist anti-black prejudice, but they are not the same situations. One was resolved only by cataclysmic war. The other is very serious but not the prelude to north-versus-south combat. The Iranian rhetoric of 2015 and the Nazi death machine of the Reich have in common anti-Semitic hate-mongering. But the differences between them are far more obvious than the similarities.
“I can guarantee they are wrong. It has to do with a group of hackers - I will not name them - who are civil libertarians and who hate the confinement the restrictions the music industry and the movie industry has placed on art and so they are behind it.”
According to McAfee, the group attacked Sony Pictures as it is indicative of an industry which is “controlling the content of art,” adding “I’m sorry but I don’t like that myself. I don’t like it one iota.”
McAfee said he was not going to identify the group behind the attack because he doesn’t want to be a “nark” adding “I don’t mind that the North Koreans are blamed, I’m not particularly happy with what the North Koreans are doing.”
Unleash the vigilantes! Against a sovereign state that arguably makes sense, as the DPK does not answer to any court, but theft and vandalism against a corporation is something else entirely.
‘Hackers want freedom - and I support them’
They drive the sale of anti-virus products.
Kim Jong Un isn’t stupid: he knows that his impoverished state is far weaker than the US or South Korea or Japan, any of which would just love to see his government collapse. North Korea can only deter those enemies by being more threatening and dangerous. It will never be stronger, so it has to be crazier instead, always more willing to escalate.
This has been effective: Americans consistently rate North Korea as one of the greatest threats to the United States, though it is in fact a frail country with decades-old military equipment and an economy smaller than Jamaica’s. North Korea works hard to convince Americans of this, publishing reams of propaganda portraying itself as a serious threat.
The Sony hack, then, has been a breathtaking success for Kim Jong Un. Americans are so convinced of North Korea’s power, and of its belligerence, that they see the act of simply watching a movie in their hometown theater or streaming online as a show of brave defiance. And they see America as not just in conflict with North Korea, but that conflict as so important that families will spend their Christmas watching a movie perceived to be a part of the conflict. Even Vladimir Putin could never have dreamed of a propaganda victory so resounding.
For those who want the insider POV of a troll: 4 Things I Learned About Teenage Trolls (From Being One)
Internet trolling is officially mainstream now. Trolls haven’t been in the media this much since those action figures of naked old people with rainbow hair inexplicably became all the rage the ’90s. It seems like every month it’s something new, from leaking stolen celebrity nudes, to harassing the families of suicide victims, to tricking teen girls into cutting themselves, to trying to drive transgender people to mass suicide, to divulging murder photos before the police even find the victim, to kick-starting a righteous crusade for gaming ethics. Part of me wants to tell the little scamps to turn off their computers and then set them on fire, but I have no right to say that … because I, too, was a teenage troll.
If you’d prefer to look at the results instead: Why Pulling ‘The Interview’ Proves We’ve All Become Cowards
Sony was hacked, a bunch of embarrassing out-of-touch-rich-executive emails were shared with the world, and for one brief second North Korean sympathizers actually made the world a better place.
Then those same anonymous sources threatened mass murder if the film opened. Theaters began pulling out like a bunch of condomless teenagers and, ultimately, Sony canceled The Interview’s release. New Regency followed by canceling an upcoming Steve Carell film about North Korea, and it’s become abundantly clear that we won’t see any movies set in that country for a long, long time.
All this may seem like a sudden burst of crazy brought on by the Sony hack, but it’s really just the culmination of years’ worth of wussing out.
People make (most often) empty threats and we keep caving in. Authorities are too busy killing unarmed people on the streets, as well as torturing and/or bombing people abroad, to do anything about it. So you don’t need a gun or a bomb anymore to cause mayhem. You just need to claim via twitter that you have one. You don’t even have to be on the same continent.
Heath Ledger’s Joker has won.
Don’t even think about Kim Jong-un! You do not want to force the hand of America. Just because you can get away with that in your own country doesn’t mean that you will be able to force us to violate our first amendment, which I’m guessing you know nothing about. I agree with everything The Young Turks had to say about this. Your threats only show us how pathetic you really are.
The racist comments on Obama “was an adequate reaction against the one who insulted and defamed PRNK (People’s Republic of North Korea)”, a spokesperson for the external affairs ministry said in comments carried by the country’s official Korean Central News Agency.
The North Korean spokesman criticised the US president for calling North Korea an “isolated state” that “condemns its citizens to hunger” by having a “reckless and irresponsible government” during his last visit to Seoul in late April.
According to the Pyongyang spokesperson, it was an “unpardonable insult against the people of PRNK who are leading a happy life under the benevolent socialist system”.
ahhh North Korea :
GDP (PPP) 2011 estimate
- Total $40 billion
- Per capita $1,800
GDP (nominal) 2011 estimate
- Total $12.4 billion
- Per capita $506
The average salary was about $47 per month in 2004. The average official salary in 2011 was equivalent to $2 per month while the actual monthly income seems to be around $15 because most North Koreans earn money in illegal small businesses: trade, subsistence farming, and handicrafts. The illegal economy is dominated by women because men have to attend their places of official work even though most of the factories are non-functioning. It is estimated that in the early 2000s, the average North Korean family drew some 80% of its income from small businesses that are legal in market economies but illegal in North Korea
Poor? yes. Benevolent?
According to Human Rights Watch, free religious activities no longer exist in North Korea, as the government sponsors religious groups only to create an illusion of religious freedom.
Today, four state-sanctioned churches exist, which freedom of religion advocates say are showcases for foreigners. Official government statistics report that there are 10,000 Protestants and 4,000 Roman Catholics in North Korea.
According to a ranking published by Open Doors, an organization that supports persecuted Christians, North Korea is currently the country with the most severe persecution of Christians in the world. Open Doors estimates that 50,000-70,000 Christians are detained in North Korean prison camps. Human rights groups such as Amnesty International also have expressed concerns about religious persecution in North Korea.
The Economist Intelligence Unit ranked it as the lowest country in the Democracy Index. Amnesty International Human Rights Watch and the UN’s commission on human rights in North Korea report of severe restrictions on human rights and crimes against humanity ‘without parallel in the modern world’. The government rejects these claims
North Korea is the model for everything that is wrong with humanity. That statement, while broad - is also correct. As they crawl their way around the edges of modern humanity, excerpting racism, oppression, crimes against humanity, starvation, concentration camps, and threaten world peace, the rest of us simply do not seem to understand how to effectively manage a state directly out of the 12th century.
Testimonies from former guards and former inmates of Yodok have revealed that prisoners are frequently subjected to torture, forced labour and execution.
Family members of those suspected of crimes are also sent to Yodok - a system of “guilt by association” used to silence dissent and control the population through fear.
In January 2012, at least 31 North Koreans who had been detained in China were reportedly forcibly returned to North Korea. These people could be sent to political prison camps where they are at risk of torture, forced labour, or execution.
North Korean authorities refuse to acknowledge the existence of these political prison camps.
Amnesty International activists around the world have been signing petitions and writing appeals to the North Korean authorities, urging them to close Yodok and other political prison camps.
“North Korea’s authorities must acknowledge these camps exist - they must close Yodok political prison camp, and stop these appalling, systematic human rights abuses,” said Narayan.
The United Nations Human Rights Council [UNHRC] has presented North Korea with 268 recommendations to improve human rights in the country, 185 of which the North has said it will consider.
The recommendations were presented in Geneva on the 6th after a Universal Periodic Review [UPR], set to be made public at the upcoming UNHRC meeting in September.
North Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations So Se Pyong later slammed the move as “a work of prejudice and a misunderstanding of the Republic.”
Nevertheless, the North has agreed to review 185 of the recommendations put forth and is expected to let the council know of its decision prior to the September meeting.
Rejected recommendations include the scrapping of “guilt by association,” future cooperation with the international criminal court, the implementation of recommendations as outlined by the Commission of Inquiry into North Korean human rights, a visit to to the country by a UN human rights investigation team, the closure of the nation’s political prison camps and the abolition of discrimination based on the songbun class system.
If you are interested in reading more on NK - nknews.org is one of the best sources - their ‘defector profiles’ are highly informative ‘people on the ground’ accounts of life inside the despotic feudal state.
Nice to know that the Illustrious Workers Paradise has such brave people to stand up and call like they are told to say it. Sounds like they got some inspiration from some down home All American Racists. Now I guess the GOP will have to rethink their position on PRNK. After all……Look at me look at me look at me…
Greg Larson recounts his recent visit to North Korea.
Each year, a limited number of tourists are allowed to visit North Korea, the most isolated nation on earth. All tours are highly scripted and follow a similar pattern. Tourists are only allowed to visit a limited number of preapproved sites. Most days you are confined to the bus; government minders accompany tour groups everywhere and dictate everything, corralling you through tightly circumscribed itineraries. Our tour was coordinated by a travel agency in Beijing. Leading up to the trip, the agency sent our group, composed of fifteen students, informational PDFs that read like inverted Miranda rights. “Foreign visitors to North Korea may be arrested, detained, or expelled for activities that would not be considered criminal in any other country.” Prohibitions included straying from the group, practicing religion, and interaction with the local population. There are designated tourist hotels, where North Koreans are not permitted to stay—in Wonsan, the Songdowon Hotel is on a foggy, abandoned pier jutting out into the Sea of Japan. In Pyongyang, the Yanggakdo Hotel is marooned on an island in the middle of a river, with a checkpoint restricting North Korean citizens from entering. The hotel mostly serves Chinese tourists and businesspeople. When we were there, only a few of the forty-seven floors were in operation; if you pressed the other buttons on the elevator, the doors would open to pitch-black hallways, some with wires hanging from the ceiling, others with no carpet.
Male university students in North Korea are now required to get the same haircut as their leader Kim Jong-un, it is reported.
The state-sanctioned guideline was introduced in the capital Pyongyang about two weeks ago, Radio Free Asia reports. It is now being rolled out across the country - although some people have expressed reservations about getting the look.
“Our leader’s haircut is very particular, if you will,” one source tells Radio Free Asia. “It doesn’t always go with everyone since everyone has different face and head shapes.” Meanwhile, a North Korean now living in China says the look is actually unpopular at home because people think it resembles Chinese smugglers. “Until the mid-2000s, we called it the ‘Chinese smuggler haircut’,” the Korea Times reports.
“Our leader’s haircut is very particular …” That’s a polite way of saying it sucks.
The U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in North Korea released a 400-page report Monday detailing just how bad things are there; here’s the laundry list:
“These crimes against humanity entail extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation.”
Which pretty much says it all, though, as Julie Makinen reported for The Times, the report further noted: “the ‘gravity, scale and nature of the violations’ in the totalitarian state over several decades do not have ‘any parallel in the contemporary world.’ “