Saturday, April 13, 2013

More on Korea

First, links to a couple of articles:
This one, also from the same correspondent with The Mirror, has gotten some play:  Inside North Korea: Video and photos show true horror of Kim Jong-Un's evil regime - Mirror Online.

The headline refers to "Shock" video and photos; I'm afraid that I'm familiar enough with the tales recounted here that I find them sad, tragic, but not "shocking."

North Korea is covered with concentration "reeducation" camps, where the inmates, often imprisoned for the heinous crime of being related to someone who failed to bow deeply enough on front of Kim Il Sung's, or Kim Chong Il's, or Kim Jong Un's, portraits, are worked to death.

With a rifle butt or a club.  The lucky ones are simply shot with a minimum or torture.

Children starving in the streets while people pass by?  Old news, I'm afraid:the US News article Ilink about quote the World Food Program as saying that one third of north Korean children are "stunted, due to malnutrition."

We were hearing stories of cannibalism in the mid-90s.  Hard to say with any certainty whether, and how many, of these stories were true, but the evidence did suggest that there at least two or three separate instances. 

Anecdotal evidence at that time also indicated that the north Korean populace was malnourished enough that girls were not having their first period until age 18.

That's got to do bad things to population growth; a chart at World Development Indicators - Google Public Data Explorer, based on data from the World Bank, shows north Korea's population growing from just over 10 million in 1960 to just under 25 million in 2011.  In the same time frame, the population of the Republic of Korea (AKA "South Korea") rose from about 25 million to 50 million. So, on paper, north Korea's population has more than doubles, while that of South Korea has almost almost exactly doubled; however, the trend line for north Korea is much shallower, almost flattening out starting in 2000, whereas South Korea's trend line continues at a steeper rate all along.  (South Korea actually suffered greater destruction during the Korean War, and north Korea started the war with almost all of the industrial development on the peninsula, as well as most of the natural resources.)

Another piece of anecdotal evidence:  the "Truce Village" at Pan Mun Jom is guarded on both sides of the border; the US turned the security role there over to the ROK Army years ago, although we do have personnel assigned to the UN Command there. 

When I first went to Korea in 1982, if you were an infantryman or an MP who was over 6 feet tall you were automatically vetted for a high state of fitness, recruiting poster looks, and general Chuck Norris-grade bad-assedness. If you met the standard, you were tagged for PMJ Guard duty.  As I said, the US Army no longer guards PMJ, but the ROK Army continues that general approach to assigning personnel to the guard force there--I never saw so many Koreans who were bigger than me! 

The north Korean guard force at Pan Mun Jom is made up entirely of scrawny little guys who would all be picked last for a game of dodge ball or red rover.  (Like this.)

Or badminton.

I suppose the commies might be keeping all the strapping, fit guys hidden away someplace, but it doesn't seem likely, given the way they like to play childish games like "Our flag is bigger than yours."

Somewhere is a box full of photos from my second-to-last tour in Korea, with me standing on the commie side of the negotiating room in Pan Mun Jom, with what looks like some 12 year old kid wearing his big brother's uniform peering in the window behind me. If I can find it, it'll make a great "Photo of the Author" someday...

ADDED:  US News has a special report on "The North Korean Crisis".  it's not bad, although some of the articles are shallow; the one about north Korea's military makes it look like a military giant, what with how many more tanks and planes they have; as I said before, we're talking about an air force with Mig19s as front line interceptors, and AN2 Colts for the heavy lifting. All those T55s and T62s, well, they have some use, but...

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