Saturday, March 26, 2005

North Korea via NY Times, Pejman

Another story about the surreal world of North Korea was in this week's New York Times. Pejman picked it up and commented:

Columnist Claudia Rosett has frequently pointed out the silence of the United Nations when it comes to the refugee problem caused by the exodus of North Koreans to China. Perhaps this story will serve to bring this crisis to the forefront of the international community's List Of Problems To Fix. In the meantime, note anew the fascinating fact that for all of the problems North Korea has, its citizens are convinced that it is "the greatest country in the world" and that its leaders are faultless. The mind reels at the degree to which a personality cult can be so successfully deceitful.

He's right. The mind reels.
According to he article, there is a large and growing population of Korean refugees, as many as 200,000 living in China, having crossed the 877-mile border between China and North Korea. It's hard to imagine what it is like to be poor in China, but for these people a poor life in China is better than anything they knew in North Korea.

Like the Marmot, we watch the mousehole and wait.
When the time comes, the emergence of North Korea into the rest of the world will have the effect of an avalanche on its people. How and when that will happen remains unclear. And whether or not it will happen as the result of military intervention is also unclear. But emergence there will be, as surely as pregnancy results in birth.

Footnote: The Times article will be accessible (registration required) until it is shifted into the archives (fee to access). Pejman's archives will be available at no charge longer than that. I read somewhere that the Times was contemplating going all-subscription online like WSJ and others. I think they have the smartest marketing stance if measured by readership, thanks in part to a generous online presence. Requiring a subscription would result in an immediate drop in the number of readers, like me, who already have so much to read at no charge that it would be senseless to pay.

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