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Home > Publications > Quill > 'The world's most isolated country'


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Friday, May 1, 2009
'The world's most isolated country'

Bruce C. Swaffield

Much is written about North Korea, but little is really known about the Hermit Kingdom.

This nation is “the world‘s most isolated country,” according to Reporters Without Borders (www.rsf.org).

For journalists throughout the world, Chőson (as it is called by those who live there) is second only to Eritrea when it comes to media censorship and control.

In fact, the International Freedom of Expression eXchange (www.ifex.org) commented in its 2009 World Report that, “Human rights conditions in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) remain dire. There is no organized political opposition, independent labor unions, free media or civil society. Arbitrary arrest, detention and lack of due process remain serious concerns.”

The DPRK Socialist Constitution, however, promises all citizens will be free from government oppression. Article 67 states that, “Citizens are guaranteed freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, demonstration and association. The State shall guarantee conditions for the free activity of democratic political parties and social organizations.”

Nothing could be further from the truth, RSF says. “The totalitarian regime in North Korea keeps its people in a state of ignorance through tight control of the media. Foreign-based radio stations and independent Web sites do try to break this isolation, and a new magazine using journalists working incognito was launched in 2007. A few foreign reporters were given permission to visit the country, but under the watchful eye of minders.”

One of the worst known atrocities committed by the government was reported in November 2007 by the Daily Mail:

“A North Korean factory boss accused of making international phone calls was executed by a firing squad in front of 150,000 people, it emerged today. The manager was gunned down in a sports stadium in South Pyongan province after authorities claimed he’d installed 13 phones in a basement to reach the outside world....”

American journalist David Wallechinsky visited North Korea two years ago and wrote about his impressions for Parade magazine and The Huffington Post.

“North Korea is the most isolated country in the world,” he said. “Cell phones are illegal; mine was confiscated upon arrival at Pyongyang Airport and returned when I left the country.

“The Internet is not available to normal citizens, and newspapers and television provide nothing but government propaganda. All home radios and televisions are set to government channels, and security forces enter people’s homes to make sure no one has tampered with the dials.”

To say that North Korea does not trust the outside world would be an understatement. The state-run Korean Central News Agency released a story March 20 bearing the headline “U.S. Imperialists’ Ambition to Stifle DPRK Flayed.” Here is the text (www.kcna.co.jp/index-e.htm):

Pyongyang, March 20 (KCNA)

The madcap Key Resolve and Foal Eagle joint military exercises staged across south Korea saliently prove that U.S. imperialism can never exist without aggression and war and its moves to stifle the DPRK by force of arms have reached a graver phase.

Rodong Sinmun [“Newspaper of the Workers”] today observes this in a signed article.

The U.S. imperialists’ high-handed policy of aggression towards the DPRK is a product of their ambition to invade the DPRK, the article notes, and goes on: The above-said policy pursued by the U.S. imperialists in the new century is an extremely adventurous and reactionary policy of aggression aimed at mounting a preemptive attack on the DPRK and conquering it by mobilizing nuclear weapons and all other offensive means and huge armed forces of aggression in the southern part of the Korean Peninsula and its vicinity, from the U.S. military bases in the Pacific and its mainland.

The U.S. military warmongers have reorganized their forces, focusing their efforts on increasing their maneuverability and augmenting their striking power in a bid to rapidly hurl U.S. forces into the peninsula in “contingency.”

The U.S. imperialists’ carrot policy towards the DPRK is nothing but a smokescreen to cover up their policy of aggression against the DPRK.

If the U.S. high-handed policy towards the DPRK and its policy for hegemony prove unsuccessful, it follows a carrot policy. It is designed to disarm the DPRK in a bid to realize the U.S. ambition for invading it with ease.

The warmongers should pay heed to the report issued by the Supreme Command of the Korean People’s Army that it would react against the war of aggression to be started by the enemies with a great war of justice for reunification.

The U.S. imperialists had better behave with reason, clearly mindful that their ambition to stifle the DPRK is nothing but a daydream.


Much remains to be seen, though. North Korea is a small country with a great deal of power. As journalists, we need to make sure we tell the world as much as possible about this nation. Everything we can find out matters, especially for those who are living there.

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