When I get political emails from my mom, I usually delete them (sorry Mom!). However, a couple of weeks ago, the title of a certain blog post she sent me caught my eye: “Twenty Things I Learned While I Was in North Korea”. Like most Westerners, I can’t claim to know much about North Korea. I did know that tourists are hardly ever allowed in, and I was intrigued by the fact that an American had visited North Korea and lived to tell the tale. The post is from the blog Wait But Why, and it consists of twenty of the blogger’s observations, along with lots of photos and videos, from his recent tour in North Korea. The post was shocking, fascinating, and eye opening, and I highly recommend reading it. The photos at the bottom are his, and I won’t reiterate everything he says, but the main point is this: North Korea makes China look like a shining beacon of prosperity and freedom. North Koreans are continually brainwashed with government propaganda, every home is required to display portraits of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, and citizens only have access to government-approved television, internet, music, etc. Not to mention the forced labor camps, rampant poverty and starvation, and deteriorating infrastructure, to name a few current problems. Basically, North Korea has managed to completely isolate itself from the rest of the world, and I don’t think anyone outside the country really knows the full extent of the government’s crimes against its people.
So what does this have to do with US Government? Personally, reading this blog post about North Korea made me more thankful than ever that I live in the United States. Yes, we have our share of problems. Yes, our government is currently shut down and our Congressmen are acting like 5-year-olds. But you know what? We’re SO INCREDIBLY LUCKY to live here. Often we take for granted our ability to curse our president in public without being sent to a labor camp. We can put up pictures of whatever or whomever we want in our homes. The fact that I was able to publish this blog post, which called our Congressmen 5-year-olds and contained my own personal opinions, is a testament in itself to our nation’s unique dedication to freedom. I’m not saying that our government is perfect or that we should all stop complaining—in fact, I think we should keep utilizing our right to complain. I’m just saying that, in these times of dissatisfaction with our government, we have to remember how exceptional the United States really is.
To get back to the topic of North Korea, it will be interesting to see what happens there in the future. It’s pretty easy to tell from the blog post that the country is messed up, but I’m sure we only know a fraction of what’s really going on. I hope the situation there changes soon—the citizens are certainly deserving of a government that prioritizes them over the military and nuclear weapons. I don’t know for sure what will happen, but I do know that history has proven time and time again that a government can only repress its people for so long. The Kims’ days are numbered, and hopefully North Korea can become a free, prosperous, relevant nation in the not-so-distant future.
Here’s a link to the blog post I’ve been referencing (Warning: it contains some bad language):