[Please note: The word “Featured” on the left side above was NOT inserted by this blogger, but apparently was inserted by WordPress, and it cannot be removed. NO post in this blog is sponsored.]
The Book of the Week is “Ask A North Korean, Defectors Talk About Their Lives Inside the World’s Most Secretive Nation” by Daniel Tudor, published in 2017.
As is well known, North Korea is an insular dictatorship, one of just a few left in the world. From birth, its people are brainwashed into worshiping their supreme leader, the dictator. His leadership style resembles that of Stalin’s: threatening the oppressive social order will cause one to be arrested in the middle of the night and thrown into a political prison camp.
There is one-party rule (the Workers’ Party). The people are allowed: no free speech, no freedom of assembly, no due process, no freedom of religion (Christianity or any other), and anyone who does not work for, or is not a sycophant of the government is probably poverty-stricken.
Jail time or public execution awaits those who are caught in possession of videos or music from the West (likely the United States, China, Hong Kong or South Korea). A tiny percentage of North Koreans get a view of other cultures, but only when they are permitted to travel to China on business, or when they risk their lives to listen to radio broadcasts from South Korea.
The government owns ALL property of all of the people. It even used to provide limited amounts of food and goods to the people. But in the 1990’s, the country suffered from a famine that forced people to become creatively capitalistic in order not to starve to death. North Koreans living near the borders of China and Japan traded black-market consumer goods with them. They hunted, fished, bred domestic animals and literally prostituted themselves. Illegally, they sold alcohol.
In North Korea, the most economically powerful entities are those that obtain foreign currencies because they are affiliated with the government, which is an unavoidable behemoth of cash-only bribery and corruption. The people do not have credit cards or even bank accounts.
Cars, which are very few in number, are a status symbol in the country’s capital city, Pyongyang. Those who own them are likely government workers, who have drivers. The highly coveted job of driver requires obtaining a license that takes a minimum of three years to obtain. One needs to get training for the job, but first must achieve hard- won acceptance to one of only two driving schools in North Korea. Unsurprisingly, there is a black market in fake driver’s licenses.
A high percentage of North Korea’s population is in the military at any given time. For, males must serve a minimum of ten years; females serve seven. Exceptions include college graduates, who serve five years, and science or engineering majors serve only three. Ironically, malnutrition is widespread in the military, as North Korea does not provide its ranks with enough to eat (!)
Read the book to learn a wealth of additional details about North Korea.