As the generation of North Koreans who grew up familiar with the jangmadang market system enters adulthood, the state is cracking down harshly to prevent their “impure” attitudes and tastes – which include a preference for South Korean music and movies – from going mainstream.
“If it weren’t for President Syngman Rhee, South Korea today would hardly differ from North Korea,” said Jo Dong Jin, a 45-year-old North Korean defector. Jo made the comment on February 23 after watching The Birth of Korea, a documentary on South Korea’s first president which has been creating something of a sensation since its release in mid-January.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with Cuba’s President and Communist Party First Secretary, Miguel Díaz-Canel, in Havana Monday at the start of a Latin American tour that appears designed to shore up Moscow’s declining influence in the region.
One of the options for dealing with North Korea’s military provocations is a preemptive strike, on military targets and/or on Kim Jong Un himself. Given what could go wrong, this is a scary idea, especially for those of us living close by in South Korea. It also appears somehow undemocratic or certainly unpeaceful for a democracy to even consider it. Furthermore, why advocate war in a situation where war has been avoided for 70 years?
The secret police in North Korea has increased surveillance and suppression of families of people known to have defected to South Korea. Defectors say they have been receiving more worrying news about their relatives since Kim Jong Un re-framed South Korea as the North’s number one enemy on January 15.
On the last day of school last year, parents all over North Korea dressed up and made their way to nurseries and kindergartens for a special ceremony. There their children received a gift from the leader, Kim Jong Un, of sugary sweets and other goodies.