Our governmental and media institutions have long been known to lie about other countries, from Syria to Venezuela to Russia to numerous others. But since the propaganda about north Korea is so ubiquitous, even the most critical thinkers have been persuaded to believe it. To educate myself and my readers on the lies we’ve believed about the DPRK, I recently talked with an expert on the subject: Shane Lawrence Pick, a Zone Delegate of the Korean Friendship Association and a contributor to The Communist Current YouTube channel. We had our exchange through online messages, so Pick was able to show me links to two videos. I recommend you watch them too.
Here’s how our conversation went:
Me: I’m wondering whether the media has distorted Americans’ views of north Korea’s laws. Is it true that north Koreans aren’t allowed to say anything negative about their government? How accurate are the claims of human rights abuses in north Korea’s prisons?
Pick: DPRK citizens are absolutely allowed to say whatever they want about their government. Freedom of speech is ensured in their constitution as is freedom of the press, demonstration and association.
And DPRK’s prison system is in reality far more humane than anything in the US or Canada for example. They don’t believe in solitary confinement and consider it a heinous form of torture which is strictly forbidden. Their judicial system is democratic and elected by the people in the area where the court is located. There is no such thing as a criminal record system in that when you get out you lose privileges, in DPRK when you are released you are treated as before you were convicted legally. There is also no such thing as juvenile hall in the DPRK, something still common here.
Me: I‘m getting the impression that the “three generations rule” is also a myth. Correct?
Pick: Yes, a complete lie. Someone’s parents being criminals has no bearing on their children. And furthermore even if children misbehave and break laws they aren’t put in juvenile hall like here. It’s up to the community and parents to correct children’s behavior.
Me: How did all these myths originate? Have defectors fabricated accounts?
Pick: Yes, more than defectors fabricating them, CIA actively works to farm individuals willing to fabricate them. Anytime a person from DPRK arrives in south Korea, which often happens by way of them literally being kidnapped or tricked into leaving, they are put a into a detention facility called a “freedom factory” where they are “taught how to live in capitalist society.” This is where they also farm for people willing to parrot atrocious stories on media and the ones who are at risk of trying to return are put under surveillance by NIS.
You should watch this sometime:
It explains how tax dollars from western nations go towards creating the defector horror story narratives [through] groups like the ATLAS network, etc.
Me: Is it true that north Korea’s Supreme Leaders have been picked because they’re part of the same family line? Were Kim Jong Un and his father given power undemocratically?
Pick: No they were elected but it’s somewhat incorrect to say they have power even. Kim Jong Un is accountable to the supreme people’s assembly which is elected by the people. He is also recallable from his position. I made a video explaining how leaders and leadership in DPRK works.
Me: How well is social justice upheld in north Korea? I’ve read that official state propaganda has promoted ideas about a Korean master race, and that LGBT people have been persecuted by the state. Are these myths too?
Pick: Yes they are, there is no concept of a master race, and everyone in DPRK regardless of race shares all the same rights etc. And while there is social stigma behind LGBT, it is nothing to do with the party or philosophy itself. And in fact DPRK is probably the only nation — including other socialist ones — who have never persecuted or criminalized anyone for sexuality or gender. The social stigma is a result of residual of old culture, which is not just in DPRK but the entirety of Korea and many surrounding nations also unfortunately.
Me: Well this has been an educational experience for me. I’m glad I’ve sought out an alternative information source about the DPRK.
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The Western empire has promoted these lies about the DPRK for an obvious reason: the capitalist class doesn’t want people to know about the democratic and successful socialist experiment that north Korea actually is. As Pick’s video above explains, Kim Jong Un is a figurehead with one vote in the Worker’s Party who isn’t even north Korea’s main head of state. But by painting Kim as a cartoonish tyrant, the socialist Juche ideology as a sinister totalitarian doctrine, and the DPRK’s citizens as more “victims of communism,” the Western governments distract their own people from the freedoms that they lack under capitalism, and from the evils that have been perpetrated by imperialism.
The American government is the one that’s killed around 30 million people in the aggressive wars it’s carried out since World War II. It’s the one that incarcerates more people than any other country. It’s the one that doesn’t treat healthcare as a right. It’s the one that puts its people under ubiquitous digital surveillance. It’s the one that lets its police officers shoot unarmed people of color. It’s the one that allows for the worst wealth inequality in the industrial world. It’s the one that’s making the north Korean people suffer through brutal economic sanctions. And it’s the one that subjects its own people to constant psyops and propaganda to serve the interests of powerful corporations. We’re the ones who are living in a dictatorship.
The capitalists lie to us about north Korea because they’re afraid we’ll do what the north Korean people have done: overthrow the ruling class and build a system that works for the people.