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The Shin Donghyuk Story

Blog posts reflect the views of their authors.

In Search of Useful Information: Scratching away at the propaganda

By Charles Spurr

Shin Dong-Hyuk is said to be the only person to have escaped from a "total control zone" grade internment camp in North Korea and lived to tell about it. So the story line goes. These are punishment centres the the North Korean government steadfastly denied existing. Yet it is said that Shin's family was imprisoned there because several relatives had defected to the South. There is said to be a law in DPRK that defectors' families would face 'three generations of punishment.' This obscure phrase doesn't make much sense but at least it makes more sense than the idea that people were just thrown into torture centres and left there for generations on end because once someone committed a political offence. After all there are other interpretations of such a pronouncement that make more sense such as being barred from the military, or administration, or any important job for three generations, assuming that such a proclamation was ever made.

Shin was said to have defected, not for political reasons but for food. He got a taste of the food every one else got to eat and couldn't get enough of it. So he went to the south in search of more. The North Koreans, with all their notoriously tight security couldn't stop one half-starved kid from travelling from up North close to the Chinese border to sneak across a heavily patrolled border into South Korea in search of something to eat. No doubt Shin has plenty to eat now because he is, undoubtedly, well paid for spreading his story.

In another place on the internet it is said that 0.86% of the DPRK citizens exist in these punishment centres. At least the proportion isn't any bigger. US/South Korean agencies claim they have satellite photos as proof that the camps exist but they don't show anything but buildings. Could the Shin story be manufactured like the story about Iraqi troops murdering babies in incubators, or the story of Sandinistas massacring Mosquito indians in Nicaragua? Or how about, everybody's favourite, the “weapons of mass destruction” spouted so eloquently by Colin Powell before the United Nations?

Somewhere else on the net someone gives three reasons why the US doesn't just invoke Responsibility to Protect and charge in to liberate the oppressed people of North Korea. His main claim is that "nobody cares," and that Americans (which ones?) are more concerned about things like the fiscal cliff to worry about human rights. He misses the point that the US ruling oligarchy doesn't give a damn about human rights anywhere accept when it is useful for propaganda purposes. They are most concerned about world domination, sources of fossil fuels, raw materials, cheap labour, markets to exploit and the military strength of their opponents. So the DPRK with its nuclear capability, and the fourth largest army in the world means more than anything to America. If DPRK has resources they want, they'll just have to purchase them rather than steal them for the time being.

Finally, one could compare the Shin description of human rights nightmare in DPRK to other countries which the US has little or no problem with, at least for now. Consider the devastation of many parts of rural India, for example. Or parts of Africa such as the Congo. Or human rights in Saudi Arabia, or Colombia. Then one shouldn't forget about the hundreds of thousands who suffer and die in places like Afghanistan and Iraq at the hands of the US and its allies. I might add that there are human rights abuses going on all the time in South Korea that nobody here is empathizing with. For example, it is illegal in South Korea to make favourable comments about the regime in North Korea, and those found guilty face harsh jail time. Is DPRK the worst place on earth even if the Shin story is real? Another country might be a bigger hell hole, but it is a US hell hole, and, therefore, OK.

The North American monopoly media has an uncanny ability to manipulate and control the message in favour of its ruling oligarchies while many people are unaware that this is even happening. This is in spite of its well-advertised freedoms of speech and of the press. Therefore it is incumbent on all of us who are able, to muster all of our critical faculties in the interest of peace and the well being of the planet. Shin's story is an example of something that needs to be critically examined and not just passively swallowed when served.

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