Among all the whacked-out, evil dictatorships of the world, North Korea has managed to establish itself as the cream of the crop. It’s a perfect storm of ridiculous and horrifying, the ruling class a living parody of the eccentric evildoers from children’s cartoons. Death camps are offset by the plethora of images of North Korea’s tubby leader examining food. Horrific reports of executions and torture contrast with hilarious “diplomatic visits” to the country by weirdo former basketball player Dennis Rodman.
Unfortunately, we sometimes forget the harsh reality of life in North Korea. We ridicule the “Great Successor” as if he’s a portly and violent Kardashian and then don’t pay enough attention to the fact that, right now, a great many people in North Korea are living horrible lives in work camps. Virtually the whole country is starving, and because of the country’s strategic value, it’s unlikely that military intervention would ever be allowed without China’s involvement – and that doesn't look likely.
So when you’re laughing at the crazy ridiculousness of North Korea, have a heart and take a second to acknowledge that even the most humourous moments brought to us by the Kims have a heavy human cost. Much greater than the humorous aspect of North Korea is the darker side of the nation's crazy leadership; like the following six things North Korea have done, largely unbeknownst to the rest of the world...
6 It Had A (Failed) Giant Rabbit Feeding Program
One of the internet’s favourite go-to tidbits about North Korea is the giant rabbit farm proposed by the late Kim Jong-Il, and with good reason. It’s completely absurd.
The gist is that Kim found out about these giant rabbits being bred by a man named Karl Szmolinsky, and decided giant rabbit meat would be the perfect food source for the starving masses of North Korea. He had a few rabbits flown out to be displayed in a zoo, and arranged to have Szmolinsky fly out to help get the farms going properly a few months later.
That all got cancelled. Why? Likely because Kim ate all the rabbits. It turns out impulse control isn’t one of the prerequisites for being a dictator. Of course, it didn’t really matter, because the rabbits were terrible for meat. Completely nuts and completely useless. Very DPRK.
5 It Might Use Dogs To Execute People
It will be surprising to nobody that there are no elections in North Korea, with the Kim family having held sway since the country was formed. That doesn’t mean the Kims have ruled unopposed, of course. There are dissidents within the ranks of the upper echelons of North Korean power, individuals who want to oust the Kims for personal or national gain.
Kim Jong-Un’s uncle was allegedly one of these revolutionaries, which is why he was executed back in 2012. NBC reported that the reason given by North Korea was that the uncle, Jang Song Thaek, was executed for "attempting to overthrow the state by all sorts of intrigues and despicable methods with a wild ambition to grab the supreme power of our party and state."
His alleged punishment: he and his aides were set upon by 120 starving dogs, which killed and consumed the group over the course of an hour. The jury’s out on whether or not this was true, but there’s no doubt that Jang was killed.
4 A Fake City Was Built To Entice South Koreans Over
The only people who think North Korea is great are the ruling class living high on the hog by subjugating the people. Many inside the country think it’s pretty terrible, and virtually everybody outside of the country shares that opinion. That’s why the fake city on the border of South Korea is so ridiculous.
Meant to dazzle the nearby citizens of South Korea, Kijong-dong has all the signs of a great town, boasting a school and hospital, and even a community farm in the vicinity. The only thing it doesn't have? A population. It turns out, nobody lives there.
According to news.com.au, “The buildings are actually concrete shells with no glass in their windows, electric lights operate on an automatic timer, and the only people in sight are maintenance workers who sweep the streets to give the impression of activity.”
It’s yet another example of how detached the country’s leadership is from reality. At least this one is gentler than some of its other nonsense.
3 North Korea Had Actual "Heisenbergs," Is Hooked On Meth
Unless you live under a rock, you’ve heard of Breaking Bad, the show about a genius chemist who makes the purest crystal meth around. It’s entertaining television, but over in Korea, it’s uncomfortably close to reality.
Vice did a great breakdown of the crystal meth trade in North Korea, and while that industry has cooled in recent years, it’s still going strong enough to keep much of the North Korean population drugged up.
For a while, North Korea was pumping out meth of outstanding quality, regularly over 98% pure. As a distribution network, it used diplomats abroad, as well as arrangements with Yakuza and Triad gangs, to get the product out there. Needless to say, this didn’t go so well with the host nations, and for this and other acts of questionable morality, North Korean diplomats were kicked out.
To try to prove to the world that it had found its way, the country allegedly demolished its meth factories... and then moved production. You can still get top notch meth in North Korea, where it serves as just another set of chains for the impoverished citizens.
2 The Country Operates Nazi-Like Concentration Camps
After the world discovered the horrors that had been ongoing in Nazi concentration camps, the words “Never Again” became a promise, assuring the world that the inhumane torment that had been witnessed wouldn't continue unchecked in any nation, ever again.
The reality in North Korea, as well as other dictatorships around the world, has proven that to be a lie.
An estimated 200,000 people are in forced labour camps in North Korea, and, according to Business Insider, up to 25 percent of a given prison’s population dies each year. The camps are easily “restocked,” however, thanks to the policy of arresting entire families for a “crime” committed by one of them.
What’s so bizarre is that despite the world having known about these camps for a long time, the country has only just acknowledged their existence. Progress?
1 North Korea’s Constitution Is Incredibly Permissive
Summing up North Korea in one word is a difficult task. “Harsh” works, as does the standard go-to, “crazy.” But a person who didn’t know anything about the country apart from its constitution might have a different choice 0f descriptor: “free.”
Yes, this brutal dictatorship points out a variety of freedoms cherished by the developed world and denied to the people of its own country – while purporting to guarantee them. Here’s a sample of what is on the list, quoted from the DPRK Constitution:
- “All citizens who have reached the age of 17 have the right to elect and to be elected...”
- “Citizens are guaranteed freedom of speech, the press, assembly, demonstration and association.
The State shall guarantee the conditions for the free activities of democratic political parties and social organizations.”
- “Citizens are entitled to submit complaints and petitions.”
It all sounds pretty incredible, and it’s downright baffling as to why this document was drawn up in the first place. Maybe the ruling class thought they could fool everybody. Or maybe they just didn’t bother to read the document they wrote.
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