and South Korea
(5) (5 votes)
Korea North and South
March 10th 2005
I live in a strange place. It's now common knowledge that the Megalomaniac
to the North of me has a nuclear weapons program. Korea is so strange.
I was talking to my students about North and South Korea and asking
about the country being divided. Now to me, it seems that a country
divided, with two separate heads of state would be considered to
be two separate countries. But my students and many of the other
Koreans I know would give you a puzzled look if you talked about
North and South Korea as being two countries. They still think of
themselves as one. Some of my students even have family ties in
The whole situation is heartbreaking and mind-boggling. It's so
strange to think that 50 miles away from this computer where I sit
in comfort (that's the distance from Peoria to Bloomington for all
you people back home, just to put it in context) there are thousands
of people starving. There are orphans with distended bellies with
mudcaked feet. Many of them are rounded up into these "hostels"
where they are left to die so they won't create a bad image. There
are some people so hungry that they resort to eating human flesh.
At the same time, I live and work in a country that has such amazing
technology. The internet here far surpasses what you get at home
in the States. Cell phones that are common here are the high end
phones back home. My students (who go to school and two or three
private academies, take piano and violin lessons, play soccer, do
taekwondo) come in with arsenals of snack food in their bags. They
play computer games for hours on end (Koreans are some of the best
gamers in the world). Their only concern is getting into a good
school and for guys they also have to worry about their mandatory
two years in the service. It's unfathomable, the difference between
North and South.
What's maddening is how few people even know about the condition
of the Korea Northn people. It's so secluded. People know that there
are nukes there and people don't have much food, but we can't see
into this Hermit Kingdom as many refer to it. Anything that comes
out of Pyongyang is fake. There are dazzling shows of dancing children
in brightly dressed clothes, singing about their love for Kim Jong
Il. Pyongyang is advertised as a bustling metropolis, but the streets
are empty. They claim to be growing in the area of industry but
70% of the factories there are not in service because people are
too hungry to work. They've stripped away the equipment and sold
it to buy food. Instead of growing crops, the government forces
farmers to grow opium for illegal drug trade. Kim Jong Il blames
Korea North's famine on flood, draught and sanctions against the
country. Korea North has received more international aid than any
other country and all of that food goes to feed the military, not
the starving familes with children. There are prison camps where
people are slaughtered, yet the government denies their existence.
It's all sick. Sick sick sick.
And here I am, eating Sun Chips and drinking coffee. I'm downloading
the latest episodes of my favorite TV shows. I just bought a nice
new cage for my pet hamster. She's snuggled up in her little nest
of wood chips, her belly full of the sunflower seeds and carrots
I gave her as a snack. Tonight I go to bed resting on two pillows
and snuggled up beneath a down comforter. But 50 miles north of
here, people are dying.