Wednesday, March 16, 2005

North Korea: cracks in the walls with cameras rolling...

Halfway through a video from North Korea, the camera pans on a propaganda portrait of Kim Jong Il, North Korea's leader, magnificent in his general's dress uniform with gold epaulets. Scribbled in black ink across his smooth face is a demand for "freedom and democracy."

If genuine, the graffiti speaks of political opponents willing to risk execution to get their message out. If staged, the video means that a North Korean hustler was willing to deface a picture of the "Dear Leader" to earn a quick profit by selling it to a South Korean human rights group.

Either way, the 35-minute video is the latest evidence that new ways of thinking are stealing into North Korea, perhaps corroding the steely controls on ideology and information that have kept the Kim family in power for almost 60 years.

This exciting development is being monitored by The Marmot's Hole.
He's one of the few people watching this mousehole like a patient cat. Politically, North Korea is a ticking bomb. Never mind the nuclear threats; their domestic problems are far, far more significant. When it happens, a popular upheaval will be as unstoppable as the birth of a baby.
Reports of the most unbelievable kind have been leaking from the North for the last few years, mostly by Japanese journalists. A pissed off crowd of Koreans can make a lot of things happen. This could be the Next Big Story.

But maybe not. We still wait and see.

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