North Korea…still?

On the Kumgangsan TrailThe intense responses and interest kindled by the blog from North Korea has brought me full circle into the realization that this is a living subject that needs to be updated on (to see origional blog go to: http://www.travelblog.org/Asia/North-Korea/Kumgangsan/blog-53381.html).

I have had many responses and many questions that have all left me not only grateful for this experience but also feeling inadequate to answer many of the questions asked.

On one occasion I was sent a message by a mechanical engineer from IRAN wanting to know what I though of him taking a job at a shipyard in North Korea. I was both honored and shocked by the email at the same time. In my response I told him that I knew little of what the REAL North Korea was like and talked about how I only saw the tourist side, though I did attempt to be open-minded and observant.

The main purpose of this blog in to respond to recent comment I received from Therese. I would first like to say that I am grateful for the response even though I have no idea if you are reading this now. As a writer it is encouraging to North Korean village from a distancehear that people are aware of the issues and interested in them whether or not they support my perspective.

Her comment was as follows:

“Not the True Picture.

You didn’t see the real North Korea. The North Korea where the Dictator decides who eats and who starves. Why could you not take pictures from the bus? Why were there guards with guns every 20 meters? Why was this 5 star hotel empty? Why could you not talk to the North Korean people? These people do not have freedom, and so many of them are starving. You met a few of the people of North Korea but you did not see the true picture. Freedom is for all, and is what our Creator intended. “Well they don’t know what freedom means so they don’t miss it”. And you are ok with this. You say: “I am not saying that I support this particular system; I am simply putting forth an idea that could possibly lead to the better understanding of their perspective and condition. ” Don’t be naive. These people don’t deserve to live under this cruel Dictator. I saw a documentary, where a man from South Korea smuggled in a camera and hid it in his coat and filmed what really goes on there. Look into the truth.”

My response to the comment is this:

Truth. “Look into truth,” I was asked. Simply because I offer a different perspective does not mean that I am void of knowledge on this “truth.” I do not have to look into that “truth” because I know it on the terms being referred to. I have had it forced down my throat through biased American media and by god I am not saying I support Kim Jung Il, I am simply saying that maybe we have it wrong. We see the hatred we see the “evil” that exists, but this perspective and this blindsided truth is one that has been buried into our social conscious as we reject this dictatorship, especially as it is unwilling to conform with U.S. policy. This has been an ongoing process since WWII when democracy held its claims to freedom against all the rest. Of course there are exceptions to this, but when it comes to “evil” in the eyes of force-fed American media, it is not all freedom we support. We blindly allow our government to choose our battles for us and these battles are fought where there is the most for us to gain, not where freedom is needed the most. Look at Darfur. Was freedom at the top of our list? All we heard from our own government were excuses for why we should not get involved. But that is political bullshit when people are not simply suppressed and dying from starvation because their hierarchal force is struggling, they are being murdered by their own countrymen. Where is your justice now?

As we look deeper into the negative sides of how we view North Korea it is important to stop and realize that ALL we have are these negative perspectives. We accept Bush’s “axis of evil” and use it as a justification to dehumanize all aspects of North Korea and the situation.

My reason for writing is not to say that I support the North Korea Government. I simply feel that we as Americans fail to see the holistic view of the situation, and I hope to offer words that stimulate people and inspire them to question the issues at hand and be critical and open-minded to the point that they want to educate themselves by looking further into the matter.

Freedom is a choice and we–especially as Americans–have the power and responsibility to embrace this freedom and decide for ourselves what to believe. We do not have to heavily take the burden of hatred that the government and media suffocate us with. WE have the power to form our own opinions and thoughts. Yet rarely do people take the time or have the resources to see something other than this hatred, as they do not understand North Korea’s ability to exist on its own terms.

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