DefDog: North Korea — No War, Leaders in Luxury, Country in Famine

01 Poverty, 04 Inter-State Conflict, 06 Family, 08 Wild Cards, 11 Society

A good read, ring of authenticity.

Never mind nuclear war, says North Korean defector Joo-il Kim, the reality of famine is bad enough

Joo-il Kim believes the rhetoric is just a distraction

Rob Hastings

Independent, 14 April 2013


While he agrees that the current stand-off is more serious than previous events, he remains confident there will not be conflict. “This current regime does not want a war,” he tells me through a translator. “The people don’t have anything, so they don’t have anything to lose if they went to war – but the regime, they have wealth.” Living in luxury, he says, the leaders will not want to risk what they have.

After he escaped a closed and impoverished society, one imagines his greatest surprises in the outside world would have been at technology. Instead, it was the uneaten fruit he found in Chinese forests while running away that amazed him most. “There were apples just dangling in the trees, falling on the ground. In North Korea, even the smallest apple will be eaten because the people are starving. But China had abundant food,” he says.

Starvation and hunger is a topic he returns to several times, and with good reason. The death of his four-year-old niece from malnutrition, after he had already seen many others dying in an economy wrecked by the regime’s agricultural policies, convinced him to defect. The world might be concerned by the threat of nuclear war, but Mr Kim believes the dictatorship is using this to distract the international community and its own people from the problems they face.

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