North Korea

book3rd November 2015

Hi kittens, hope you are all well and have enjoyed this trip so far. Today I stumbled upon a book that my friend once suggested I read. The book is called “The Orphan Masters Son” by Adam Johnson, and is about life in North Korea. It is so beautifully written with a high level of research behind it. I have only started reading today but thought I would share a review with you all, hopefully encouraging you to read it yourself. The extract I will be reviewing is only part 1, pages 13-15.

Below were some comprehension questions I found on a website, which is listed below:

What impression of Kim Jong IL is created in the extract? Write down two pieces of evidence that support your impression.

The extract characterises Kim Jong Ill as superior and almost go like through the repeated reference to his as “Dear Leader coupled with the absurdity of “doves were seen to spontaneously flock above him providing much needed shade on a hot day”. The suggestion that Kin Jong IL is in control of nature positions him as omniscient and therefore in control of his subjects. In addition, Kim Jong IL’s god like persona is further expressed through “on the spot guidance”, expressing that he withholds an extensive knowledge on anything and everything.


What is your first impression of what life is like inside North Korea? Write down three pieces of evidence that support your impression.

The impression of the extract reveals that life inside North Korea is tightly controlled, coaxed with propaganda and contains high levels of poverty. Firstly, tight control is illustrated through the “loudspeakers…. in your kitchens, in your offices, on your factory floors”, as it is revealed that the citizens cannot escape the messages that drown them. The loudspeakers broadcast speeches by Kim Jong IL, deliver absurd news and overall suffocate anyone listening. Propaganda is illustrated through rhetorical questions that brainwash and manipulate the minds of North Korean citizens into believing that there is only an imperialistic idea, which is directed through the ideologies of Kim Jung IL. “What are you going to believe, citizens? Rumours and lies, or your very own eyes?” reinforces the use of propaganda but also links back to the tightly controlled environment. Finally, high levels of poverty are witnessed with the monthly cooking contest for “Pumpkin rind soup”, which implements that North Korea have had to resort the skins of vegetables as a food source because of how poverty stricken and malnourished the nation has become.

Extension Question: 1- How do the propaganda chapters, written as if spoken from a loudspeaker, shape the way we perceive North Korea

The loudspeakers within the propaganda chapters, shape the way we see North Korea as it illustrates the nation as demanding and controlling. Firstly, the loudspeakers are present in every aspect of the North Korean lifestyle as they are found “in your kitchen, work place and office floors”. The citizens are than told to “turn it up”, revealing that the volume of the message must be spread throughout the city, demanding to be heard. Secondly, the ideas behind the loudspeakers depict a brainwashed society that is  regularly fed false information about the world outside of North Korea. The loudspeakers are a form of propaganda used to showcase North Korea in a way that persuades the citizens to stay and not wish to move, through presenting the nation in a positive light although it can contradict the truth. Overall, the loudspeakers represent and shape a demanding and controlling image of North Korea.



2nd November 2015

Today I arrived in North Korea after spending my first week in the land of Japan. I am currently sitting in the airport writing as it is surprising quiet, with very few people. I noticed that even the plane over had a spare seat in every segment, which was something I didn’t expect, considering how crowded the trip to Japan was.

As I was saying, I have landed in North Korea and have come to the understanding that this country is nothing quite like I expected.

I use to think that North Korea was like many other countries. When I pictured North Korea before my trip, I imagined people flooding the streets and rushing through crowds. I imagined a city full of light and life. A government that was similar to our Australian government, were different parties all had a say. Human rights followed and obeyed, with citizens welcoming tourists to the country and involving them in the culture. I imagined North Korea to be everything that I so far know it isn’t. Everything that I thought I knew, seems to be contradicted by the alternate universe I currently stand in. On the flight over my friend Hayley and I were lucky enough to be seated with a man named Daniel, who has travelled all around the world. It was his second time travelling to North Korea and he was happy to share his knowledge with us about our next destination.

Now I think that North Korea is a country unlike any other. Daniel told us about the first time he landed and how he felt as though he was swallowed in darkness. Not a single light was seen from his window even though he was told they had just flown over the city. The streets were sprinkled with one or two people every so often, which happened to be something I picked up on as well, due to the lack of cars and bare streets I could see from my window. He spoke of how lifeless and dull the lifestyle was. How restricted the citizens were to the point where it was rare to hold a conversation with another. The strict security of the borders and public events. North Korea is a uniformed country that is cut off from the rest of the world, isolated and absorbed in its own values. Daniel than went on to tell us about a young man he had met on his trip to South Korea. This man was born in a North Korean camp, most commonly known as ‘Camp 14’. This story fascinated me because this man he met had to watch his families’ execution after turning them in. At the time that is what he was taught. It was the state over and above your family. I could not help but feel sympathetic towards this man. If I am to be honest, I feel sympathetic towards the entirety of North Korea.

I can only hope that this next week will further my knowledge on this country, as I learn to understand why and how it came to be the place it is today.

Until Next time kittens, Kat

Extra for those interested: Whilst Daniel was talking Hayley and I decided it would be a good idea to write some notes on the key information that stood out to us. Checkout the images below!

First Day1First Day 2

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