Monday, April 30, 2012

Barbara Demick: Nothing to Envy - Ordinary Lives in North-Korea

Recently when I was browsing in the book store I came across with this book about North Korea. The book was written by Barbara Demick and titled "Nothing to envy - ordinary lives in North Korea". Since it was available as a paperback at reasonable price I decided to pick it up. The book was written on the basis of series of interviews of North Korean defectors that Demick made in South Korea while she was there as the correspondent of LA Times.

The book was extremely interesting to read since it was written from the view point of ordinary North Koreans. I particularly enjoyed the fact that I got a glimpse of different kinds of people with different social status. I got to know how a doctor, a teacher, a college student and ordinary mothers struggle to survive in the disintegrating economic situation.

Nothing to Envy - ordinary lives in North Korea

It is just horrifying to read how the situation got gradually worse during the 90's and again in the 2008. Reading the book you start to feel anger over the situation in North Korea. The people of North Korea suffer from constant hunger, oppression and fear. It is just inhumane and I do not understand how the country is still able to function (in large part it does not function at all). For the past twenty plus years the average North Korean citizen has been fighting for their next meal. The situation can not go on any longer. It must end. Sooner the better.

I started to think of different scenarios how the situation could be solved. Basically what I was thinking how the regime in North Korea could be changed or what will happen when and if the government will fall.

1. Collapse

If the regime would collapse uncontrollably, there probably would be no choice but to close the borders and send in food. I do not think any country would be able to absorb the presumably large masses of refugees. The next step would probably be to put in a temporary UN government that would oversee the transfer and eventual unification of Korea. It would probably take at least twenty years to get the country on it's feet.

2. "China"

The second option would be that the leaders in Korea opt for taking the same route that China has taken for the past 30 years. The biggest problem will most likely be how the foreign companies will find a way around the fact that human rights situation in NK is beyond appalling. Would you like to buy something that was produced in North Korea? This route would require many decades and in order to succeed NK regime would need to prove that the humanitarian situation is getting better and they are no longer pursuing to obtain nuclear weapons. Somehow that just seems unrealistic, at least at the moment.

I'm pretty sure that the slow collapse of NK regime is underway since so much chinese goods are already flowing in and people have (illegal) chinese cell phones that they use to call to their relatives living in China. The people are starting to know how life is outside the closed bubble of NK. I just hope that the collapse won't end up in situation where the North with it's last remaining power will launch an attack to South Korea.

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