8 Days in North Korea
Erick Tseng
3.6K168

There is no hope.

This article was exceptional from all points of view. A distant and analytical tone that still keeps close to human feelings, after all it is not about North Korea but about Koreans living in the north. Yet the thing that strikes me the most is the ending. It is way too hopeful and i refuse to be shot this drug for the life of me.

I am born in 1981. I live in Romania. Romania has had 45 years of communism. I lived through only 8 of them. This eastern European country was notable for the most Orwellian regime: everybody was a potential enemy of the state, there was no free speech and indoctrination was at Korean levels since 35 years ago. Same posters, same adulation for the great leaders, same poverty for farmers and the same luck to be born or live in Bucharest, the country’s capital city.

Back then Romania, just as Korea, was trying to be self sufficient: we did everything here, cars, airplanes, electronics, all the food, we had our own oil and almost all internal power production with huge megaliths of industrial production covering all internal requests and then some for export.

But, like in all these experiments, there was hunger, fear and pain. Strangers were avoided just like you were because mistakes costed tens of hours of questioning and digging up of files. Everybody had a file. In it were everything about you from the color of your eyes to your sexuality, from your your friends and your friends’ friends to the closest of relatives. From this giant array of information something always stood out.

Everybody feared that something.

Then magically we have shaken off this burden. In 1989 a so called revolution came along.

Dead people.

This is how you overturn the ingrained sense of entitlement that the group at the top in dictatorial countries have: many people die.

Whatever the reason, seeing this next generation of North Koreans gave me hope — hope that someday, change will come for the North Koreans. And when it does, their country, and the entire world, will be better for it.

If the generation you met will be the catalyst of change so many of them will die. Unavoidably.


Then the other evil shall rise. A bedazzled society who shall execute the ruling family will gape at the void left in place. A horde of previously entitled old rulers will line up as saviors. Same recipe all over the planet. From Romania to Iraq. It is not about communism. It is about dictatorship.

And about how we shamelessly let whole countries be hell on Earth, looking over the fence at the scarecrow filled with living, enduring humans.

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