A Visit to the Land of Darkness aka North Korea
On December the 2nd, the students of the “Profil Englisch Kurs”, visited a lecture by South Korean writer Suki Kim about going undercover in North Korea at the DAZ in Stuttgart (Deutsch-Amerikanisches Zentrum). She talked about what she did and discovered. Suki then gave an interview and afterwards answered our questions.
At the beginning she talked about North Korea in general and showed a night satellite photo of the two Koreas. The whole of South Korea seems to be as bright as day even from 500 km above, North Korea is pitch-black (see photo). Suki Kim explained how hard it was to go undercover in North Korea and what she needed to do to get inside. She explained the situation in North Korea and how much of a show the politicians put up. They are completely isolated from the rest of the world and all they see is the “Great Leader”. They even have a hymn about him, how great he is and how much they worship him. Everything the citizens do is monitored, which leads to fear. They have almost no electricity and no internet even though they are in the 21st century.
She then told us about what she had to do to get undercover. An organisation helped her become a christian teacher at an elite university. So she had to pretend to be christian and a teacher. The students were sons of the politicians, so they are basically puppets of the system. The citizens themselves are also spying on each other and reporting everything back. That’s why Suki had to be extra careful since she was recording everything and saving it on an USB-Stick around her neck. She also wrote a book when she was there, which was saved on her computer, but it was hidden in her school assignment files.
After the lecture she was interviewed by a journalist of the Spiegel magazine. The interviewer and Suki already knew each other, because they’ve been in North Korea together for a short time. In the interview he asked her to further explain her situation and her fears. That’s where they talked about their “minders” who were watching them constantly. A “minder” is a North Korean government official, every visitor is supervised by a “minder”. He told them what they were and weren’t allowed to do. For example, you are not even allowed to point at a statue of the great leader. The “minder” told her she had to form her hands like she was begging or praying, because the great leader is their religion and there is no other religion allowed.
Last but not least we were allowed to ask questions. One of the questions, asked by a student from the Kerschensteinerschule, was if she thought it was paradox that the country itself claims to be an union, but actually keeps destroying its core by making the people spy on each other and dividing families. Her answer was that everything they do is for show and for controlling purposes. Another question by an another student of the same school was if she liked some of the experiences in North Korea, if there was anything positive about the whole thing. She answered that she developed a motherlike feeling for her students.
To sum it up: North Korea is a country that brainwashes its citizens, is slowly falling apart but still manages to keep the dictatorship alive. Everyone there lives in fear, isolated from the rest of the world. Sadly, even though we know what is going on, we can´t help the people of North Korea.
Ein Bericht von Manuella Petkovic, Selin Mecit und Rafaela Kesoglou.