Gareth Morgan v Liberty Scott

Gareth Morgan is incensed that his view of North Korea has been challenged. He specifically singles out Liberty Scott for some treatment, calling him ignorant.

As you will see it is Morgan who comes off looking ignorant.

Liberty you are ignorant.

My concern is the 25 million Koreans suffering because of this 68 year impasse. The relevant question is whether it is the only way or can we be smarter. I am not supporting the authoritarian regime of North Korea’s or that in Russia (Pussy Riot) or that in China or for that matter, that in Singapore. What I’m saying is that the US as leader of liberal democracies has normal relations with totalitarian regimes when it suits them but push for “regime change” through crazy talk like the vacuous “Axis of Evil” accusation, and demonising the DPRK regime when they sniff the possibility of engineering a Saddam-like collapse. I think it’s called double standards.
I do not see it as defensible to punish 25 million people for a totalitarian regime they are powerless to change. The only way to effect sustainable change is contact, demonstration and persuasion. Not isolation, escalation and humiliation. The DPRK’s reinstigation of its nuclear programme is a direct result of provocation – it’s terrified the US is going to invade it.You need to think more.

Get it??

Liberty Scott replies, pointing out that far from being ignorant he in fact has an honours degree studying North Korea.

Gareth. Ignorant am I? I did my honours thesis on this place, I know a small amount of Korean, and you wouldn’t pass a high school essay on it for the basic lack of historical knowledge or understanding of context. Have some humility, it is embarrassing and discrediting you, and making you a laughing stock among the world of DPRK watchers.

The impasse is simple – the DPRK regime has never been interested in reunification except on its terms to create a complete Kim family personality cult Korea with everyone slavishly working behind its enormous iron curtain with little – whilst the Kim family pillages, rapes and enjoys all it wishes from them, with grand monuments, and all art and culture dedicated to the glorification of them, the party and the faked history. The DPRK doesn’t let family reunions happen except in tiny numbers of the very elderly – because it knows if stories about south Korea are widely spread, it will demonstrate the lies they have been telling their population for decades. They fear what happened in East Germany, a state of people who all know the lies they are told because they see the difference, ready to take them on the moment there is some weakness.

You don’t get it. No other country has hermetically sealed itself so much (although that has been breaking down informally, largely because the regime’s effective control outside major centres collapsed during the “arduous march” – corruption now reigns in many rural areas and the Amnok River border with China is far more porous than it once was), no other country has perfected totalitarianism on such a scale, with so much fiction about its past. Have you read 1984 and seen the parallels? You might note you can leave every other country you list, as a citizen getting a passport is no big deal. Not the DPRK, you can’t even leave your own village or town without special permission. Pyongyang is only for people who are in the top categories of the elite in terms of loyalty, so it presents a Potemkin view of the country that isn’t what you’ll see at Sariwon, Wonsan or even Nampo off the main road.

The DPRK nuclear programme was instigated by Kim Il Sung when it saw the USSR collapsing and ending its support. Gorbachev cut off the aid and opened diplomatic relations with Seoul, and Kim Il Sung saw his nuclear umbrella folding up. If you read 1984 you’d recall that Oceania was at constant war – the regime maintains a constant fear of invasion as a form of control over the population. That perpetual militarisation also reflects the “Songun” (military first) policy set up by Kim Jong Il after his father’s death, because there were serious moves for a military coup, partly supported by Kim Song Ae – Kim Il Sung’s second wife.

I happen to agree with a certain level of engagement, and there are plenty doing it, without coming out and publicly given succour to this prison state. One of the campaigns is to stop the DPRK imprisoning entire families including children as political prisoners.

You’ve shown an astonishing level of ignorance, and will have pleased the regime enormously by not only not saying anything that would embarrass it, but praising it.

I get it. You can engage with members of the elite, you can help give them confidence foreigners are willing to help, but you don’t help by denying the reality of the prison they are in. Did you know people there are banned from owning radios with tuning dials? (a handful are smuggled in and south Koreans send some over by balloon) Did you know the stories the regime tells its population about life in south Korea, and the rest of the world? Did you know how comprehensive the fiction is about the Kim family?

Oh and yes, you can oppose the governments in Russia, China and Singapore, to some extent and not face incarceration or execution. In the DPRK there is not a smidgeon of activism against the regime visible anywhere. You think it is out of love?

Read Aquariums of Pyongyang, Read Dae Sook Suh’s very well researched biography of Kim Il Sung, read Bradley Martin’s book and more recently Andrei Lankov.

If you haven’t read any serious works on the place then you have some nerve calling me ignorant.