Citizen protests… in North Korea?!

Man, I’ve really been neglecting this blog lately, and, in accordance with the First Rule of Blogging, I must go out of my way to point this out. :) In my defense, the past week has been pretty hectic, with real analysis homework, a project due and a test to take in my operating systems class, and final preparation for the ACCA programming competition today.

I’ll try and get back in the swing of things over the next week, but right now I just wanted to share a couple of news stories I was just reading about. More protests against abusive regimes have broken out, this time in North Korea. North Korean citizens have long suffered under the “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-il, and the Asian press is reporting that fear of Kim Jong-il’s son and potential successor, together with still worsening economic conditions, may have sparked the protests—the first of their kind in the secretive totalitarian state.

It remains to be seen what effect, if any, these protests will have on the broader North Korean population. On one hand, many international relations scholars share the opinion of Chinese professor Liu Jiangyong, who feels that there is “not a big chance for North Korea” due to the extreme isolation of the country’s population. On the other hand, even small, sporadic protests represented a marked chance in the North Korean social atmosphere. Moreover, the Asia News Network reports that news of the Egyptian protests has reached some North Korean citizens through Chinese television broadcasts and clandestine phone calls.

Making an already tense situation even tenser, South Korea has begun a “psychological campaign” of its own, dropping leaflets about the recent Egyptian democracy protests to its troubled northern neighbor. The North Korean government, in turn, has responded as it usually does: by threatening military action if the South continues its leaflet campaign.

Such posturing on the part of the North is hardly new, of course, but it does reflect on how seriously the North fears any attempt to assail its official state worldview. The citizen protests of the past few days and the South’s attempt to inform North Koreans of similar dissent elsewhere face tremendous hurdles, but they also appear to have left the North Korean government slightly uneasy, and such efforts might play a decisive role in the eventual democratization of North Korea.

About Jon

Christian, dude, geek, student, hacker, weirdo, King of Awesomeness
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5 Responses to Citizen protests… in North Korea?!

  1. Laura Kizior says:

    Jon: first rule of blogging–never apologize for not posting…just post :) Good luck with the competition!

    I think it’s interesting that the North Korean’s received their news of the Egyptian protests through the Chinese (who are also rather restrictive of the type of information they allow into their country). I give a lot of credit to South Korea for their efforts!

    Thanks for the news update!

    Cheers!
    ~Laura

    (BTW… your hyperlinks in this post aren’t hyperlinks…)

    • Jon says:

      Haha, I’ll keep that in mind. As for the competition, my team took second place in the advanced division, and our novice division team placed second as well. All in all, it was a pretty good showing.

      I was surprised to hear about North Koreans getting news from China as well, but apparently people who live near the Chinese border have been able to receive Chinese TV signals without excessive government intervention. (Of course, it’s still illegal, but it’s also difficult for government authorities to pin down just who watches these broadcasts.)

      PS: Thanks for the heads up; I fixed the links. I was upgrading the software on my blog, but I got interrupted halfway through and things got a little weird. :)

  2. Steve Macek says:

    Yes, like Laura, I find it very interesting that word of the Egyptian protests reached N Korea via China. As restrictive as the media universe in China is, a lot of information that you would think would be suppressed by the state is widely circulated. It’s just that any news that could potentially embarrass the Chinese Communist Party or the People’s Army is typically ignored in the official government-run media…and sometimes even state media will from time to time carry critical reporting. From what I’ve heard, the situation there is similar to Hungary or Yugoslavia in the 80s: some news that doesn’t fit the “official line” gets through, educated people have some limited access to alternative sources of information. (And, as you may recall, reports about masses of East German youth crossing the Hungarian-Austrian border carried on Hungarian TV helped to precipitate the events of 1989).

  3. Wera says:

    Sent this to my husband, who is from Scotland, and he thknis it is actually from WW2 and that they might be part of a burial detail. And that they might be part of the Gordon’s but since it isn’t in color it is hard to tell what tartan the pipes are.

  4. I really couldn’t ask for more from this article.

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