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Posts Tagged ‘North Korea


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Written by kirkistan

April 23, 2015 at 9:17 am

Posted in photography

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Secretary of State Kerry: Please Send Dennis Rodman to North Korea to Sing This Song

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It’s too late, baby, now it’s too late.

I doubt any of the Kim Jong’s have ever been “light and breezy,” though Un may be so with Mr. Rodman. But certainly they have just stopped trying.

Is it time to call North Korea’s bluff?


[Click to play]

North Korea again teeters on the brink after their rhetorical run-up to firing nuclear missiles. Now they’ve produced their usual game of extortion by demanding an end to sanctions and end to joint military exercises. But is it time to break out of their threat and demand cycle? Since we are spending millions to show we mean business with our military assets in the area. Is it time to keep the sanctions and the joint military exercises and force dialogue?

Of course, the inbred regime may actually believe the rhetoric they spout—that is the danger. Un may well be unhinged enough to push the button—no one really knows.

On the other hand, is there a way to keep pressure while allowing them a face-saving out. Some way to move toward dialogue while not giving in?


Written by kirkistan

April 18, 2013 at 8:21 am

BFF Rodman & Kim Jong Un. Let’s Not Mention “Tyrant”

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“I Declare” and Other Tool Tools

north-korea-rodman-jong-un-03052013Dennis Rodman can declare Kim Jong Un a great guy, but that doesn’t make it so. Sadly, Rodman’s declaration will change our perceptions, if ever so slightly. Is Kim Jong Un a great guy? Well here’s what we know for sure since the third-generation has taken the reigns:

Our administration takes Rodman as a joke or a tool, which seems reasonable. Perhaps the whole odd friendship is a publicity stunt, though it is unclear who won this stunt. My hunch is the winner is not Rodman.

But…is Kim Jong Un a great guy? Maybe if you overlook how he continues to starve, beat and abuse his population into submission. Maybe if you overlook how he and his family have turned the entire country into their personal economic engine. Maybe if you overlook how he seems OK with generations of injustice that perch his family at the top.

Maybe then you can see Kim Jong Un as a great guy.


Image credit: Time

Written by kirkistan

March 5, 2013 at 8:31 am

When Transcendence Goes Missing

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One more glimpse into North Korea

tumblr_mhrg2x0maI1qbcporo1_500-02062013Jason asked about how Shin Dong-Hyuk in Escape from Camp 14 kept his sanity: was there any talk of faith in the book? There was, though it was at the far end of the story, after Shin made his way to California. There he was helped by a family who welcomed him into meals and daily life and helped him understand the give and take of trusting family relationships. So indoctrinated was Shin in the North Korean prison camp system of snitching on others and assuming no one (including parents and family) would look out for him, that he had a very hard time with ordinary relationships.

Early on in the story, Shin’s attention is focused on survival. The entire nation is focused on just getting to the slimmest subsistence level of caloric intake, which was especially true of the political prison system. In one story, a child who found five or six kernels of corn in a fold of clothing and quickly ate them was soundly beaten by the prison guard/teacher. That’s the level of desperation. In this setting, there was little room for anything behind always scanning for rats or bugs to eat. And since Shin was born in the political prison, the only faith presented was a faith in finding hidden problems with others that could be reported to guards in exchange for slightly better treatment. Shin knew nothing of God and was entirely focused on staying alive.

It’s an ugly story.

Shin did come to a faith in God after living with this family in California. Blaine Harden, the journalist who did such an excellent job assembling and telling Shin’s story, struggled with how Shin retold stories of escape after he came to faith: he started to see how God was involved back then. Harden is right in pointing out Shin knew nothing of God at the time (of his imprisonment). It seemed to Harden Shin was adding in new elements in the retelling. But for me, as a person of faith, I can understand how Shin looked back and saw connections he did not notice earlier.

But Harden’s story is not a story of faith in God. It is a brutal story of survival.

Did I mention this book is worth reading? There is a long waiting list at our local library.


Image credit: Bousure via 2headedsnake

Written by kirkistan

February 6, 2013 at 8:35 am

North Korea Death Watch

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Is there an app for that?

9780143122913_p0_v1_s260x420-02042013One-third of the nation is chronically malnourished. Hundreds of thousands are in political prison camps. Some are born, live (meagerly) and die in political prison camps under Kim Jong Il/Un/Whatever’s three-generation policy (lock up the family that disagrees with the party line for three generations). This I saw through the story of Shin Dong-Hyuk’s Escape from Camp 14. I defy you to read this book and not come away thinking the entire nation is a prison camp—and absolutely corrupt—focused on supporting the lifestyle and many mansions of Kim Jong Il/Un/Whatever (and a few party elites. Very few).

Amazingly, this is happening right now. Today. This instant. This isn’t something in the past. See the prison camps for yourself.

But how long will we see the prison camps? As Kim Jong Un continues to starve and beat the North Korean population, how long will it be before loyalists hide evidence of these camps? Probably the population is already digging their own graves and praying to fall in.

Surely there is an app that can track the square feet of these prison camps and help the world watch as Kim Jong Un tries to hide their criminal record.


Written by kirkistan

February 4, 2013 at 3:40 pm

Bellicose & Belligerent: North Korea Demands Food & Attention

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Escape from Camp 14

Cheery news today that North Korea will continue to test rockets that can deliver a nuclear payload to the US. Our comedians and entertainment industry joke about the over-the-top language of Kim Jong-Il/Un/Whatever—and that feels right and proper. But the predictable North Korean blustering and pattern of extorting food from the West have a new soberness for me after reading Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Hardin. Hardin tells the story of Shin Donghyuk, who escaped after being born and raised (for 23 years) in a North Korean prison camp. The only person known to have done so.

Camp 16

Camp 16

It doesn’t take many pages into Shin’s experience as a second-generation prisoner (that’s right, his mother was jailed—part of their “Imprison three generations” policy) to see how desperate the entire nation is. The camps are living horror stories where breeding and forced labor are routinely carried out on a diet of cabbage and salt (but all the rats and bugs you can catch). Long days of field work followed by evenings of forced self-examination followed by sleep on a concrete floor. Death by beating or malnutrition is common. We’ve all seen movies like this so it sounds like fiction—but such camps and conditions have existed in North Korea “as long as Stalin’s soviet gulags and twelve times as long as the Nazi concentration camps,” at least according to the book blurb.


in his father’s house were many mansions

And it is not just the conditions of the political prisoners (and when do we start talking about “crimes against humanity” with this country?), it is an entire nation scrounging for food and held hostage by central economic planning that failed years ago, with thieves at the top. Escape from Camp 14 gives a bit of detail about the Kim Jong legacy of stripping the entire nation for personal gain–enough to turn one’s stomach.

It sounds like fiction. But I’m afraid this story is not getting any better for millions of North Koreans.

Check out North Korean Economy Watch for maps chronicling the ongoing North Korean tailspin.


Image credit: huffington post, dailymail, the

Written by kirkistan

January 24, 2013 at 9:26 am

Posted in curiosities

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