Perhaps Gareth Morgan should take note of this

Gareth Morgan famously rode his motorcycle through the Potemkin villages of NOrth Korea, proclaiming the whole country to be enlightened and not as reported outside of the country.

The man is an idiot. There is ample evidence of the lack of freedom and deprivations suffered by the people of North Korea under the Kim regime.

Yeonmi Park spoke to Australia’s SBS about her defection from North Korea.

I lived in North Korea for the first 15 years of my life, believing Kim Jong-il was a god. I never doubted it because I didn’t know anything else. I could not even imagine life outside of the regime.

It was like living in hell. There were constant power outages, so everything was dark. There was no transportation – everyone had to walk everywhere. It was very dirty and no one could eat anything.

It was not the right conditions for human life, but you couldn’t think about it, let alone complain about it. Even though you were suffering, you had to worship the regime every day.

I had to be careful of my thoughts because I believed Kim Jong-il could read my mind. Every couple of days someone would disappear. A classmate’s mother was punished in a public execution that I was made to attend. I had no choice – there were spies in the neighbourhood.

My father worked for the government, so for a while things were relatively OK for me compared with some others in North Korea. But my father was accused of doing something wrong and jailed for three years. He being guilty made me guilty too, so whatever future I had in North Korea completely disappeared. I could no longer go to university, and my family was forced to move out of Pyongyang to the countryside on the border close to China.

After a few years, my father became very sick with cancer and he came out of jail for treatment. During this time, we decided to leave North Korea.

We had to cross a frozen river in the middle of winter to sneak across the border into China. I was very scared – not of being caught but of being shot. If they see someone escaping, they don’t ask, they just shoot them.  Read more »

Killing a Hendrix classic, or a respectful cross-cultural tribute? [POLL]

Buying the favours of the strong men of North Korea

Kim Jong-il is trying to buy the favours of the military strong men by showering them with luxury items.

Perhaps Gareth Morgan needs to read this to find out his trip through North Korea might not have covered everything.

Imports of pets, saunas, alcohol and electronics into North Korea more than doubled in the year after Kim Jong-un took power in an apparent bid by the young leader to curry favour with senior officials and military officers.

According to a report submitted to the South Korean parliament today, imports of luxury goods amounted to $645.8 million in 2012, a sharp increase from the average of around $300 million a year under his father, Kim Jong-il.

Most of his people may be lacking food, medicine and access to most basic services, but the reclusive regime’s luxury purchases included pets, pet food, bathroom fittings, sauna systems and maternity products, Yonhap News quoted Yoon Sang-hyun, of the ruling Saenuri Party, as telling the parliament in Seoul.  Read more »

Kim’s not happy with his girlfriend, has her executed by machine gun

Have you seen Kim Jong-un’s girlfriend lately…no?

Probably because she pissed off her boyfriend and he had her executed…along with her fellow band members.

She was first identified as Kim Jong-un’s old flame 13 months ago, in July 2012. The poised, coiffed and elegantly dressed companion of the North Korean dictator of Kim Jong-un was filmed sitting next to him at a concert in Pyongyang, then ascending the stage with him to applaud the performers. One month later, however, she vanished from the scene as abruptly as she had arrived. And today came the shocking news that Hyon Song-wol, one of the reclusive state’s most popular singers, had been executed by machine gun.  Read more »

David Shearer’s solution to high power prices made clear… um…

David Shearer appeared on Larry Williams’ show last night to clarify…uhm….er…his…ahhh…position on…um lowering power…um…power prices.

There you go, all cleared up…got it.  Read more »

Yesterday a Hero was farewelled

Harry Honnor

Brig Harry Honnor, CB, MVO

Yesterday while the media and almost the whole of New Zealand watched the funeral of Sir Paul Holmes there was another funeral being held, in Paihia, of a Kiwi war hero, Brig Harry Bowen Honnor, CB, MVO

Shamefully our media have not covered the funeral of a true hero. There are very few images of Harry Honnor, but I found the one in this post of him receiving his Korean Presidential Unit Citation from the Auckland based Consul General for the Republic of Korea, Mr Dae-hee Lee,  in Whangarei on Long Tan Day, 18 August 2011.

My father in law served under Harry Honnor in Vietnam, in the Battle of Long Tan.

The Veteran blogs about it at No Minister:

We said good bye to Harry Honnor on a magic BoI day at Paihia yesterday.   The service was held at the beautiful old stone St Paul’s Anglican Church on Marsden Road just across from the beach.   He was farewelled with full military honours which brought Paihia to a standstill and something different to the many hundreds of tourists who witnessed the event.

Brigadier Harry Bowen Honnor will be remembered with affection by generations who served in the 1940’s, 50’s, 60’s and 70’s as a soldiers soldier, a tough but much respected commander and an icon of the Paihia community where he made his home following his retirement in 1983.  Read more »

Korea is Hot

The rest of Korea is coming for your attention and your tourist dollars after Psy’s Gangnam Style paved the way.


Traveling while his city is rooted

NZ Herald

How will this help with the rebuild?

Christchurch Mayor Bob Parker is to visit South Korea and Israel for eight days.

He will leave this Thursday, returning to Christchurch on Friday May 11.

While in South Korea, Mr Parker will travel to Christchurch’s sister city Songpa-Gu and also speak at a business breakfast in Seoul hosted by the Kiwi Chamber of Commerce.

A highlight is a visit to the Korean Antarctic Programme.

After Korea, he will travel to Israel for the International Mayors’ Conference, to be attended by 73 mayors from around the world. The invitation to Mr Parker follows a visit to Christchurch in April last year by Israel’s Speaker of the Knesset Reuven Rivlin.

Mr Parker returns to South Korea on May 10 where he is a guest speaker at the 2012 Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Conference in Seoul.

Christchurch City Council said the cost of Mr Parker’s travel was being met by the conference organisers. His wife will accompany him and Mr Parker is paying for the cost of her travel.

Light Rail sends Korean city bankrupt

Korea Bang

While Len Brown is off in China trying to find investors for his Rail Loop idea he would do well to look at the Korean city of Yongin that has gone broke funding a light rail system:

The city of Yongin in Gyeonggi Province is about to suffer from the aftereffects of serious financial difficulties which arose from its impractical light-rail business. Civil servants of the local government, including the mayor, must now endure the ‘humility’ of returning their annual pay awards. Shockingly enough, impact of the adult’s misjudgement will be shared by young children as well, as the city has to stop its projects on improvements of educational environment, including provision of school lunches and language-teaching facilities.


The city of Yongin completed construction of the light-rail ‘Ever Line’ in June 2010, with 1 trillion 3.2 billion Won spent on it. However the line has not yet been open due to problems with MRG (minimum revenue guarantee) with Yongin Light-rail Inc. and controversy over fraudulent construction work. The city is planning to use the additionally issued municipal bond to cover the primary reparations (515.9 billion Won) with regard to the Yongin Light-rail, which was decided by the International Court of Arbitration last year.


The Left Flank Guard

I was directed to this article about the Left Flank Guard via the tipline. It is an interesting commentary on the tactics used by groups on the left. The article is from a web site dealing with Korean history and this is the introduction to a piece on how justify support for North Korea.

In politics, a direct attack is not always the most effective. One way to proceed is to target someone or something that is seen to represent a more extreme, a more pure representation of your opponent’s ideas and concentrate at least some of your efforts here. Let us call this the “politics of envelopment.” One of the most misguided responses to such a threat of a politics of envelopment, however, is what I will call a “flank guard” form of active defense. Alas, on the political left, and especially among those who, including myself, might be described as democratic socialists, this approach is all too common. The “left flank guard” often takes the form of a spirited defense of even the most indefensible extremes on our flank. The most common ways this is actually carried out is by means of evasion (of accusations), dramatic reversals (“On the contrary, you are the terrorist!”), distraction (“Look at those literacy rates!”), and good old fashioned omission of inconvenient truths.

With the end of the cold war, the “left flank guard” has mostly been deployed in the defense of authoritarian leaders who emit that nostalgic socialist scent (e.g. Venezuela), historical figures who are seen as worthy leaders of revolution but who lost in their struggle for power (e.g. Trotsky), or any resistance or liberation movement that is seen as the best current option for opposing some hated regime (e.g. Hamas). The important point to make here is that few of those in the left flank guard really believe that freedom of expression should be curtailed as it is in Venezuela, that enemies of the revolution should be mercilessly slaughtered, as did Trotsky, or that theocracy is a good supplement to generous social policies. Yet, for some reason, their defenders believe that the survival of our political cause requires us to take a stand and vigorously defend those whose oppressive policies and brutal violence often far outmatch those of our current opponents.

My correspondent notes that:

  1. The Green Party – and Keith Locke in particular – seem to excel in these tactics
  2. Labour now seems to have so many factions it does not know as a party which flank(s) it is guarding so poor old Phil is continuously being left stranded and ends up suffering from “memory loss”.