The Corner

Re: Occupy Wall Street Supports North Korea

My favorite part of the video Jillian posted this morning is this incredible speech from a Representative of the Korean Friendship Association:

“I’ve stayed in North Korea and everything you heard in the media is a lie. The people are happy, the people are friendly, you don’t have to worry when you walk the streets at night like you do here, everyone waves at you, everyone loves their country but they have to live in fear because of the constant threat of US attack. How do you think you would feel if you were a citizen and the biggest country in the world is making movies that you were going to invade. And there is no sense of responsibility in the United States for what messages we’re putting out there. We’re the big dog, so everyone has to live in fear of us…These people just want to live their lives, go to school, be happy, and that is being taken away from them by us for no reason whatsoever. Long live the DPRK, let them have juche. I hope that we will have our version here.”

The Michael Moore caricature of life in the DPRK to one side, I just love the idea that convivial North Korean revelers are lining up at their local AMC to watch Red Dawn, only to be so mortally offended by it that they are unable to go on with their usually perfect lives as normal. Wonderful. It takes a certain talent for propaganda to promise with a straight face that the diplomatic problems that exists between the United States and North Korea are primarily the fault of Hollywood, but then the Blame America First tendency knows no bounds.

The DPRK would no doubt approve of the instinct. That “juche” word that the Representative uses? It means “always putting Korean things first,” and if it’s all the same to him, I’d rather hope that America does not adopt “our version here.” In 2010, Christopher Hitchens wrote about the concept in Slate:

One evening, as we tried to dine on some gristly bits of duck, he mentioned yet another reason why the day should not long be postponed when the whole peninsula was united under the beaming rule of the Dear Leader. The people of South Korea, he pointed out, were becoming mongrelized. They wedded foreigners—even black American soldiers, or so he’d heard to his evident disgust—and were losing their purity and distinction. Not for Mr. Chae the charm of the ethnic mosaic, but rather a rigid and unpolluted uniformity.

I was struck at the time by how matter-of-factly he said this, as if he took it for granted that I would find it uncontroversial. And I did briefly wonder whether this form of totalitarianism, too (because nothing is more “total” than racist nationalism), was part of the pitch made to its subjects by the North Korean state. But I was preoccupied, as are most of the country’s few visitors, by the more imposing and exotic forms of totalitarianism on offer: by the giant mausoleums and parades that seemed to fuse classical Stalinism with a contorted form of the deferential, patriarchal Confucian ethos.

As for, “The people are happy, the people are friendly, you don’t have to worry when you walk the streets at night like you do here, everyone waves at you, everyone loves their country but they have to live in fear because of the constant threat of US attack.” Well, here’s another view, and its author at no point mentions America being involved in taking anything much “away from them”:

One would expect such insidious propaganda from the outreach footsoldiers of the North Korean dictatorship, but for Occupy Wall Street’s hapless laggards to work so happily on its behalf is a new low indeed.

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