Anthem of North Korea: Stark Contrast.

This is the National Anthem of North Korea, being performed at some type of patriotic ceremony. There’s no denying: This is a striking and lovely tune.

It seems to me such strange contrast. North Korea is not a nice place, as you’ve probably already heard. There is tons of evidence of this. A lucky few North Koreans live in Pyongyang, while the rest starve and toil in the countryside. The National Anthem of North Korea is beautiful, but the country is a terrible place.

As I watch this video, I can’t help but wonder: What are these people thinking while this is going on? Are they actually happy and proud to be in North Korea? Do they wish they were somewhere else? Are they filled with patriotism as they sing, or are they secretly thinking, “This is a load of crap”?

Then a nasty thought hits: Good Lord, has the North Korean Government actually done it? Have they created “The New Socialist Man”, robotic and banal servants of The State who don’t even care about how their own government abuses them? It almost seems like some of the faces carry true conviction and patriotism. Could it be?

Then I read the stories from North Korean defectors, which tell a wildly different tale. For example, as the Washington Post reports:

“Here is mounting evidence that Kim Jong Il is losing the propaganda war inside North Korea, with more than half the population now listening to foreign news, grass-roots cynicism undercutting state myths and discontent rising even among elites. A survey of refugees has found that “everyday forms of resistance” in the North are taking root as large swaths of the population believe that pervasive corruption, rising inequity and chronic food shortages are the fault of the government in Pyongyang.”

The North Korean Government has a firm hold on their population, through a massive machine of coercive violence and terror. This may keep organized resistance at bay, but I have no doubt in my mind that the average North Korean yearns for a better life, and resists at the margin. Reports from defectors and refugees give strong credence to this. It just goes to show: No matter how monstrous and oppressive The State tries to become, the spirit of freedom in mankind can never be extinguished. The desire for liberty and self-determination is a natural condition of humanity. It is magnificent.

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