Thursday, October 19, 2006

In A Nuclear Haze

Our president can’t pronounce the world “nuclear”, yet with the advent of North Korea’s underground nuclear test, we find ourselves living with the threat of nuclear warfare.When Bush included North Korea in the “axis of evil” during a speech, he did more harm than good as relations between the US and North Korea has since deteriorated. North Korea wants to be taken seriously as a “force to reckoned with” in the international community. However, North Korea is like the delinquent child who misbehaves and causes havoc, just to get attention from the principal. The country now faces sanctions imposed by the United Nations as a result of their nuclear test. North Korea seems poised to undergo second nuclear test in the near future as well. Many argue that China is really the only country in a position to engage in meaningful dialogue with Kim Jong, the country’s “great leader” who is worshiped in almost god-like fashion.

Lack of resources and shortages exist under Kim Jong’s leadership, as many Koreans have died of famine and starvation due to economic hardship. In communist North Korea, radios must be set to pre-approved stations and most TV stations are state-sponsored. Koreans are routinely bombarded with messages about the greatness of their leader and West’s desire to destroy their way of life. When North Korean’s attempt to cross the border into China defectors are tortured and imprisoned when they are caught. Most Korean’s, upon entering China, find the Chinese have more wealth and freedom than they do. The problem with power-hungry elitists like Kim Jong is that he will sacrifice the livelihood, and in some cases the actual lives of his people to feed his monstrous ego. He will tell lies, manipulate, and coerce innocents so he can remain in power.

The article below is written by a German doctor who was allowed access to the very private inner-workings of the average North Korean’s world.

A Prison Country
A report from inside North Korea.

Tuesday, April 17, 2001 12:01 a.m. EDT

I know North Korea. I have lived there, and have witnessed its hell and madness.
I was a doctor with a German medical group, "Cap Anamur," and entered North Korea in July 1999. I remained until my expulsion on Dec. 30, 2000, after I denounced the regime for its abuse of human rights, and its failure to distribute food aid to the people who needed it most. North Korea's starvation is not the result of natural disasters. The calamity is man-made. Only the regime's overthrow will end it.
Human rights are nonexistent. Peasants, slaves to the regime, lead lives of utter destitution. It is as if a basic right to exist--to be--is denied. Ordinary people starve and die. They are detained at the caprice of the regime. Forced labor is the basic way in which "order" is maintained.
I will recount some of my experiences. Early in my spell in North Korea I was summoned to treat a workman who had been badly burned by molten iron.
I volunteered my own skin to be grafted onto him. With a penknife, my skin was pulled from my left thigh and applied to the patient. For this, I was acclaimed by the state media--the only media--and awarded the Friendship Medal, one of only two foreigners ever to receive this honor.
I was also issued a "VIP passport" and a driver's license, which allowed me to travel to areas inaccessible to foreigners and ordinary citizens. I secretly photographed patients and their decrepit surroundings. Though I was assigned to a children's hospital in Pyongsong, 10 miles north of Pyongyang, I visited many hospitals in other provinces. In each one, I found unbelievable deprivation. Crude rubber drips were hooked to patients from old beer bottles. There were no bandages, scalpels, antibiotics or operation facilities, only broken beds on which children lay waiting to die. The children were emaciated, stunted, mute, emotionally depleted.
In the hospitals one sees kids too small for their age, with hollow eyes and skin stretched tight across their faces. They wear blue-and-white striped pajamas, like the children in Hitler's Auschwitz. They are so malnourished, so drained of resistance, that a flu can kill them. Why are there so many orphans? Where are all the parents? What passes here for family life?
In North Korea, a repressive apparatus uncoils whenever there is criticism. The suffocation, by surveillance, shadowing, wiretapping and mail interception, is total. Most patients in hospitals suffer from psychosomatic illnesses, worn out by compulsory drills, innumerable parades, "patriotic" assemblies at six in the morning and droning propaganda. They are toilworn, prostrate, at the end of their tether. Clinical depression is rampant. Alcoholism is common because of mindnumbing rigidities, regimentation and hopelessness. In patients' eyes I saw no life, only lassitude and a constant fear.
Once, I had an opportunity to visit my driver, a member of the military, who was in the hospital because of injury. The authorities were vexed that I wanted to see him, but I was able to overcome objections. As was my custom on hospital visits, I took bandages and antibiotics--basics. On this occasion, I was embarrassed to see that, unlike any other hospital I visited, this one looked as modern as any in Germany. It was equipped with the latest medical apparatus, such as magnetic resonance imaging, ultrasound, electrocardiograms and X-ray machines. There are two worlds in North Korea, one for the senior military and the elite; and a living hell for the rest.
I didn't see any improvement in the availability of food and medicine in any of the hospitals I worked in during my entire stay. One can only imagine what conditions are like in the "reform institutions," where whole families are imprisoned when any one member does or says something that offends the regime. These camps are closed to foreigners.
My initial naiveté that the starvation was the result of weather conditions disappeared when I saw that much of the food aid was being denied those who needed it most. Before Cap Anamur came to North Korea, other agencies such as Oxfam and CARE pulled out because they weren't allowed to distribute aid directly to the people. They had to turn it over to the authorities, who took complete charge of distribution. Monitoring is impossible. Nobody really knows where the aid is going, except that it is not going to the starving citizens.
If a doctor's diagnosis is that North Korea suffers from society-wide fear and depression because of the cruel system, he has to think about the right therapy and to speak out against repression. The international community, especially humanitarian groups, must demand access to the shadowy world of labor camps. They have to look for the violence that is hidden from us by the system.
The system's beneficiaries are members of the Communist Party and high-ranking military personnel. In Pyongyang, these people enjoy a comfortable lifestyle--obscene in the context--with fancy restaurants and nightclubs. In diplomatic shops, they can buy such delicacies as Argentine steak, with which they supplement their supplies of food diverted from humanitarian aid. In the countryside, starving people, bypassed by the aid intended for them, forage for food. Pyongyang is fooling the world.
As a German, I know too well the guilt of my grandparents' generation for its silence under the Nazis. I feel it is my duty to expose this satanic regime, which has deified "Dear Leader" Kim Jong Il, just as it did his late father.
Even though virtually the entire North Korean economy is geared to the military, we should help ordinary citizens. But this must be on condition that aid goes to the deserving. Foreign NGOs, journalists and diplomats must be free to travel unannounced to the provinces to ensure that aid isn't misdirected. Only pressure on North Korea can save lives. The people can't help themselves. They are brainwashed, and too afraid to be able to overthrow their rulers. That's the medical diagnosis. Only the outside world can administer the right therapy, and bring about a reformation of this depraved nation.

Dr. Vollertsen, a physician from Germany, worked in hospitals in North Korea from July 1999 to December 2000.

Kim Jong uses this “closed system” to brainwash and terrify the citizens of North Korea. I was astounded to find the references and stories of human right violations in this country. Most people don’t hear about it, as very few foreigners are allowed access to North Korea, and it’s inhabitants aren’t exactly encouraged to leave (torture and prison awaits for those who try.) Kim Jong will continue to use his “subjects” to support his militaristic state until he drives these people into total and complete desperation, if they aren’t there already.
Although the threat of nuclear warfare hangs in the air, we must also remember that this is Kim Jong’s military regime, and not the actions of the average North Korean, who is far too oppressed and brainwashed to be blamed for the actions of a very evil leader.

Kim Jong creates an atmosphere of complete deprivation to keep the people spiritually, emotionally, and physically weak. One can only hope someday his “subjects” will escape from his hellish grip. Below are the song lyrics I imagine a North Korean might use to address their corrupt government and the sorrow within.

Nuclear Daydream- Joseph Arthur

You can hold your needle
You can point your gun
You can shoot and kill me
Or you could let me run

But I won't ever cry for you anymore
The days when I would die for you are now gone

If there's a plan then tell me
If you know who you are
A princess or a mummy
A flower or a scar

So I don't have to cry for you anymore
The days when I would die for you are now gone
Are now gone

What's it like to lose control
Are you even here at all

This is a nuclear daydream
It's my atomic bomb
I already lost my passage
I already lost our home

So I won't ever cry for you anymore
The days when I would die for you are now gone

There's only dreams and numbers
And wishes left unsaid
In all the burning letters
Underneath our bed

I won't ever cry for you anymore
The days when I would die for you are now gone

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