North Korea. What do you think of when you hear those words? Kim Jong Un? The Interview? Personally, when I think of North Korea I think of what the country is actually like. I think about the hardships the citizens face, how helpless they are against the power of their dictators, and how brainwashed some of them are. If you don’t know much, here is a brief history of how Korea split in two:
According to Liberty In North Korea (LiNK), in 668 A.D, the Korean people were first united by the Silla Dynasty. In 1910, the Japanese colonized Korea. Koreans faced brutal treatment from the Japanese and were even forced to take on Japanese names. Japan was defeated in 1945.
After that, the Soviet Union and United States decided to split the post war control of the Korean peninsula. The split was supposed to be temporary, but the Cold War changed this. The US and USSR brought in leaders based on their own caused and mistrust prevented cooperation on the elections. The elections were supposed to be used to choose a leader for the entire peninsula. Lee Syngman (이승만) gained power of the South while Kim Il Sung (김일성) gained power in the North.
On June 25, 1950, Kim Il Sung attempted to unify Korea which ended up starting the Korean War. On June 27, 1953, both sides signed the armistice ending major hostilities. The DMZ (demilitarized zone) was established on the border before the way, separating millions of families on opposite sides of the border.
Kim Il Sung reigned from North Korea’s establishment until his death on July 8, 1994. Then, following his father, Kim Jong Il (김정일) reigned from the time his father died until his own death on December 17, 2011. Currently, Kim Jong Un (김정은) is the Chairman of the Worker’s Party of North Korea, and will be until his death.
North Korean citizens are brainwashed, to put it simply. There are a minority of North Korean’s who don’t believe the Worker’s Party is good, but they cannot say anything about their feelings. North Koreans can get arrested, or even executed, if they are even rumored to be heard saying something that denounces the North Korean government.
North Korea is in a place of economic failures. After they stopped receiving help from the United States, their economy went downhill. They are stuck in poverty and famine. Daily, children- babies, even- starve and/or freeze to death because they have no food or electricity to be fed or heated.
Some North Koreans decided to defect. For example, Park Yeonmi (박연미) fled the country with her mother. They went to China, where they were bought and sold to different families, being sexually assaulted and even having to become camera models to make money. They escaped China, eventually, after Yeonmi’s father died and ended up in Mongolia. After living in what seemed like a prison camp, they were finally moved to South Korea where they got their citizenship and now live freely. Yeonmi finally found her sister, Eunmi, who had defected at a different time and she hadn’t seen for at least seven years, in South Korea. Yeonmi faced many hardships and scary, almost near death experiences while defecting. This, of course, is only one person’s story, but it reflects how difficult and life threatening it is for them just to try to get to safety.
Can you get involved?
The answer to that is: yes, you can. Unfortunately, there is not much we can do about North Korea itself, but we can help the people who defect. You can donate to different organizations, such as Liberty In North Korea, a nonprofit organization that helps North Koreans find homes and freedom in South Korea and the United States. You can help by donating. If you are unable to donate, you can just spread the word to others and tell them about what’s happening in North Korea and get other people to donate.
What are your opinions on the topic? Leave a comment and tell me, if you would like. Keep learning about the world. Do all you can to make a difference!