reveals how everything we know about North Korea is wrong.
What we read here is an account of an activist (the word "journalist" doesn't seem adequate), who made something like a 3-4 day visit to Pyongyang on the occassion of Kim Jong-Il's birthday, got the full (much derided) official tour, never left a tightly controlled bubble
I've met a few people who've gone to NK that stuck me as oblivious as these guys. My theory is that most media reports on North Korea as if it's one huge prison, with soldiers pointing guns at the citizens at all times. They visit the country and see that, hey, lots of people are walking around just fine and they're even buying things. Their guides let them walk around a bit. Then they somehow jump to the conclusion that all the western reports are just propaganda. They seem oblivious to the fact that they're projecting their own experience onto the other people, oblivious that they are insanely rich tourists passing through, while the people they see have to live there (along with the risks to selves and family from police).
Gah, I am so tired of this kind of reporting -- always looking for the conspiracy, and missing out on larger details because of it. The rag Asia Times is full of it. I previously gave faint praise to Pepe saying he was the sanest writer for them. Which is true, considering they regularly publish North Koreans apologists. [Bruce Cummings is one, mentioned in the article, and the only expert Pepe may have spoken to for this article]
He's just some dude who's not terribly knowledgeable (or at least doesn't display it) trying to find the next geo-political conspiracy. And it's sad, because there are some very interesting things going on there. ... But instead of giving a great report on any one of those (and he obviously has the ability to relate things in an awesome way), he muddles through all of them to produce whatever it was he was saying above.
During his visit to Russia, [George Bernard] Shaw demonstrated that he possessed in abundance the virtue of self-deception, for which he had frequently praised the English. He found Stalin charming, "with an irrepressible sense of humor." He accepted at face value all he was told and shown. Because food was plentiful at the banquets given in his honor in Moscow, he refused to believe that there was a famine in Russia.
The 1954–56 three-year plan repaired the massive damage caused by the war and brought industrial production back to pre-war levels. This was followed by the five-year plan of 1957–61 and the seven-year plan of 1961–67. These plans brought about further growth in industrial production and substantial development of state infrastructure. By the 1960s North Korea was the second most industrialized nation in East Asia, trailing only Japan.
Due to a series of ill fortuned policy decisions concerning military expenditures and mining industries and the radical changes in international oil prices by the late seventies, the North Korean economy began to slow down. These decisions eventually affected the whole economy, forcing the nation to acquire external debts. At the same time North Korea's policy of self-reliance and the antagonism of America and its allies made it difficult for them to expand foreign trade or secure credit.
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