View Full Version : Does anyone care about North Korea?

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08-15-2003, 11:35 AM
I read through some of the posts about the war with Iraq. Maybe the Americans did it for the oil. Maybe they did it to save the people. While I doubt it was done to save the people, I am glad that those people are out from under Saddam's tyranny. In a world like our's, trying peaceful alternatives does not always work. If a person does not understand that, they are confussing his or her ideals with reality. Just the fact that all of us are studying martial arts demonstrates this fact. Think about it.

The real point I want to make concerns the people of North Korea. I wonder if people even know about the attrocities that occur there on a daily basis. The starvation and torture of these people causes me great pain and I don't see anyone doing anything to stop it. Not only that, I'm not even sure people realize how terrible the situation really is. I recently read the government document of a senate sub-commitee hearing entitled, "North Korea: Humanitarian and Human Rights Concerns." Many, many people are thrown into labor camps (which would more accurately be described as slave and torture camps) after a farce of a trial. Here is an excerpt from a paper I wrote describing these conditions:
"The prisoners must work all day long. They are allowed only 2 bathroom breaks a day. Many of them urinate or have bowel movements in their clothing, right where they are working, so as to avoid even more torture. The people are only allowed to shower twice a year. The guards who supervise the prisoners at work sit in glass boxes to avoid the terrible stench. The prisoners are not allowed to ask questions. They must drop to their knees with their heads down when called on and answer the questions of the guards."

"The North Koreans also have special punishment cells. The walls are made jagged so a person cannot lean on them. It is not tall enough to stand in and it is not wide enought for a person to stretch his or her arms. Basically, a person has to crouch in the fetal position directly in the middle of the cell. People are usually sent to these cells for 7 to 10 days as punishment for anything the guards see fit. So Lee says, "When the prisoners are released from the cells, their legs are badly bent, with frostbite in the winter, and so they can hardly walk. Many victims are permanently crippled from the lack of adequate exercise and eventually died as a result of the work resumed immediately after the release. During the summer, the prisoners struggle to brush thousands of maggots back into the toilet hole. They say it is a day of great fortune if a prisoner finds a rat creeping up from the bottom of the toilet hole. The prisoners catch it with their bare hands and devour it raw, as rats are the only source of meat in the prison. If they are caught eating a rat, however, the punishment is extended. So they have to be very careful when catching and eating a rat."

These are only two small examples of what is happening right now. It hurts me to know that my fellow humans must endure such horrors daily. I wanted to share my thoughts with all of you. Maybe some of you didn't even know. Perhaps others have some suggestions for me concerning what I can do to draw attention to this issue and try to help these people. Thank you.

Neil Mick
08-15-2003, 12:44 PM
I am glad that those people are out from under Saddam's tyranny. In a world like our's, trying peaceful alternatives does not always work. If a person does not understand that, they are confussing his or her ideals with reality. Just the fact that all of us are studying martial arts demonstrates this fact. Think about it.
I have thought about it, at great length. It amazes me how often I get this "you must have your head in the clouds, if you think that peaceful alternatives will work" in Iraq.

Now let me see: what was the ostensible reason why we went to war with Iraq? The threat of wmd's, right? Did we get 'em? I think that you know the answer. Alternatively, the peaceful process--weapons inspections--even tho flawed: resulted in netting weapons in the early '90's that Hussein was hiding.

The cost of successful peaceful methods? $80M, per year. The cost of unsuccessful violent methods? $4B/month, 10,000 Iraqi civilians, 200+ American military (and rising), and an untold # of Iraqi military.

I won't even go into whether or not the Iraqi's are better off without Hussein. Certainly they are: but did they ASK for a US occupation? Did they ask for no electricity, water, a brutal occupation and periodic epidemics as a price to have a foreign invader illegally rid them of Hussein?
Not only that, I'm not even sure people realize how terrible the situation really is.
Yes, Corey: the situation is bad. But consider this: why N. Korea, and not Liberia, when ppl are dying there, and they asked for our help? Why not Burma, Turkey, Pakistan, or other places around the world?

With this leadership, you must constantly ask these questions as to why one place is so important, when others are not. The Administration clearly had an agenda in attacking Iraq; don't you think that they have an agenda in not negotiating with N. Korea?

Consider this: we are still at war with N. Korea, we have been since the end of the Korean War. We never declared an end to hostilities (thus the demilitarized zone), even though the N. Koreans have been seeking normalization relations for a long time. The N. Koreans desperately want to negotiate with the US (and have successfully done so, in the past, in '93), and have even put banning nuc's, on the table.

All of those elements of how bad it is in N. Korea are accurate, AFAIK. But, look to Afghanistan and Iraq to see how a violent invasion will make a better quality of life for N. Koreans. Simply put: it won't. It will make for unstable security, destabilized gov't, disruption of civil services, banditry, a flourish in drug trade and black markets, and (ultimately) a rise in warlordship and a new dictatorship.

A simple knee-jerk reaction to a distressing situation results in more distress. The opposite of harmony is chaos: in invasions, the US brings only more death and chaos, in its self-centered attempts to re-draw geopolitical maps to its liking.

08-18-2003, 03:42 PM
Thanks for your response Neil. I am unhappy about the these things that happen in the world and I really don't have any good answers about how to deal with these problems.

Neil Mick
09-01-2003, 04:18 PM
Thanks for your response Neil. I am unhappy about the these things that happen in the world and I really don't have any good answers about how to deal with these problems.
You're welcome. I share your frustration. As individuals, we have little control over the injustices in the world. All we can do is what we can, within our own spheres. I think that every small contribution helps, in the overall scheme of things.

09-23-2003, 01:56 PM
Hmmm, I know many people have left this alone – not because they don’t care but because they want to think about something else other than war, death and destruction.

I don’t blame them.

But at the same time, sometimes we need to interject, intervene and “do something” more than read the newspaper, sigh, and then move on.

The war in Iraq has created world-wide disagreement trying to justify whether it right or wrong, but understand that all of those countries that spoke their minds have vested interests in their position on the subject.

Germany needs to feel good about themselves again and regain the world’s trust, since WWII comes back to mind when we speak war. France was desperate to show they weren’t creeps after the conflict (since the polls weren’t looking good). The other Arab countries had to condemn the war because many of them rely on similar power structures to control their countries (and felt their way of life threatened – rightly so). But most disturbing of all (IMO), is that the majority of other countries had an agenda that may not be as obvious…they liked their way of life and didn’t want to disturb it.

Canada was one of those countries that found is easy to condemn the war with Iraq, cause it meant an easy out – we get to stay on the couch, drink beer and watch the hockey game without fear of our fathers, brothers or sons dying on some far away land that we really don’t know anything about. I know that sounds terrible, and it is a generalization (quite unfair for many Canadians) – but as a whole I believe that was the unsaid truth of it.

Some of my friends and I were talking about it…some drastically opposed the US’s motives – others didn’t care about the motives and said, “it’s about backing your buddies play. If your friend gets into a fight, you watch his back *then* worry about who started it.” I personally don’t believe the US went in there with the *best* intentions, but served a purpose *regardless* of their intentions – the Iraqi people are free from torture and can now choose their destiny (doesn’t matter whether they make good choices or bad choices – the point is they have a choice, the have a life worth living).

Let me ask you this, if your neighbor’s wife was screaming (a scream of fear), and you already suspected her husband was beating her (suspected, not sure) would you just ignore her screaming and pretend not to hear…or would you get involved (either calling the police, or going over there with a few more neighbors)? These are tough decisions to make, perhaps even life altering (he could have a gun and shoot you) but when you do nothing you make a choice too - you choose to allow her to suffer and possible die.

Back to the topic of your thread:

I care about what happens everywhere. Africa, Arab states, Ireland, China, North Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, India, South America…geez everywhere you look there are real issues of poverty, suffering and death that can be avoided.

When you speak of N.Korea have you addressed the issue of cannibalism? Yes that’s right, the N.Korean government has now instituted specific task forces to deal with cannibalism and the black market trade of human flesh as a food source. They have problems you and I will never face (thankfully), and they need help – but the root of the problem isn’t just the government structure, it’s in the people’s resistance to accept help.

That humongous army is just made up of regular Joes who worry about food like the rest of them, but fear of us (the West) and fear of their government keep them at bay.

So while I don’t *like* the idea of war and death, what other options have worked in those situations (so far) in our world’s history?

These are tough, tough issues deserving of thought.


09-23-2003, 02:19 PM
Many people won’t like this being said, but the US IS still at war with N.Korea as Neil said, and they are exercising an age-old military tactic with them. When an opposing force drastically outnumbers you, and you have no real vested interest in getting killed (i.e. you don’t need their land or their money, and they don’t pose any direct threat to you) you close them off from necessary means of supporting themselves (trade blocks, etc.) so eventually they have no alternative but to surrender (not negotiate – surrender!).

...and it's working :(


Neil Mick
09-24-2003, 05:28 PM
Thank you for the affidavit, Bruce. I agree: it IS sad that the US resorts to this form of "siege-diplomacy" (they did the same sort of thing to Iraq, tho with far worse results, with the Sanctions. They knowingly targeted civilian infrastructures in '91--contrary to international law--with the intent to force Hussein to the bargaining table. The result? Hussein plays macho-chicken with the UN, and the Iraqi ppl suffer, caught in the middle).

This form of enforced isolationism is exacerbated by the latest parade of nationalism in this country, willfully ignoring some of its worse (and most recent) crimes.

To all these stock, chest-thumping declarations of "American pride:" I have a "stock" answer:

...pride goeth, before a fall.