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Although the majority of North Korea does not have much in way of electricity at night, Kim Jong-il has no problem navigating the Internet.  (Source: Global Security)
Kim Jong-il claims to be the world's Internet expert; Al Gore jealous

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il met with South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun this week in the North Korean city of Kaesong. This meeting is only the second ever meeting between North and South Korean leaders.

One topic of conversation during the meeting put forth by Roh was a request that South Korean companies operating in an industrial park in the North Korean city of Kaesong be allowed the use of the Internet.

The response from the Dear Leader, according to Yahoo! News, was, “I'm an Internet expert too. It's all right to wire the industrial zone only, but there are many problems if other regions of the North are wired.”

Kim went on to say, “If that problem is addressed, there is no reason not to open [web access].” Kim did not elaborate on the "many problems" caused by opening Internet access to all of North Korea, though clearly the intention of Roh's suggestion is to increase North Korean exposure to South Korean and Western influence.

North Korea explicitly prohibits its 23 million citizens from accessing the Internet and mobile phones outside of government research groups. South Korea, by comparison, is one of the world's most digitally connected countries.

However, given the secretive nature of just about everything in North Korea, it's been difficult to even ascertain just how "connected" Kim actually is. Satellite photographs of North Korea at night reveal very few lights, indicating the country does not have a very high capacity for electricity, let alone computers or Internet.

What is known, is that Kim and the ruling party has a definitive taste for all things Western. Kim's son, Jong-nam, was arrested and expelled from Japan while trying to enter Disney Land in 2001.  Late last year, the U.S. imposed a ban on all luxuries originating from the U.S. destined for North Korea, including the Great Leader's beloved iPods.


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RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By Ringold on 10/5/2007 8:41:27 PM , Rating: 5
If ever anyone needed an illustration of why wars must we fought with the purpose of winning.. that picture's it.

South of where the guns fell silent, prosperity.

North? Picture's worth a thousand words.

Africa, by the way, looks almost identical, save for a blob of light representing South Africa. Otherwise you may think South Africa was but a lonely island in a massive Atlantic Ocean.


RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By Obadiah on 10/6/2007 3:12:55 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
If ever anyone needed an illustration of why wars must we fought with the purpose of winning.. that picture's it.

You are absolutely right. But not for the reasons you think.

One huge reason that North Korea is all paranoid and focused on their military over everything else is precisely because the Korean war was NOT won. The war is still on - there has been no peace treaty signed, just an armistice which is just a glorified cease-fire.

The south has been able to get along with its life only recently with the rise of democracy in the mid-80s (previous governments were US-backed dictatorships in all but name). The US's military involvement in the south is as much to blame for South Korea's industrialization as any creedos about liberty, democracy or freedom.

The Korean War should have been formally ended decades ago. The lack of a peace treaty is probably the single largest impediment to the modernization of North Korea.


RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By Ringold on 10/6/2007 9:18:25 PM , Rating: 2
China proves well enough that economic freedom and political freedom aren't both necessary for growth, but South Korea I thought was supposedly a case study in export-led growth, could be wrong though. The Asian Tigers have grown fantastically with export-led free-ish market capitalism without all having the (benefit?) of huge American garrisons. Have we ever had troops in Taiwan?

As far as North Korea goes, I think perhaps I agree with you with this: The only ones they have to blame for their current situation is themselves, as FDI would flow anywhere it could where it thought it would be protected by property laws.


RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By Obadiah on 10/7/2007 2:45:33 AM , Rating: 3
You illustrate my point - the "asian tiger" phenomenon of export-driven growth from the 60s through the 80s was primarily exports to the USA. Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea all had good relations with the USA. Countries like China, North Korea, Malaysia, etc without strong US relations did not grow at the same rate. I don't draw a connection between the garrisoning of US troops and economic benefit, just strong ties to the US market.

Taiwan is also a great example - their governments were almost as dictatorial as those in South Korea during that same period.
quote:
I think perhaps I agree with you with this: The only ones they have to blame for their current situation is themselves, as FDI would flow anywhere it could where it thought it would be protected by property laws.
Clearly the lack of a peace treaty is in part North Korea's fault, but they are not solely responsible for the situation. Their dictatorship is not the only party to have benefited from status quo over the years.


RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By masher2 (blog) on 10/7/2007 1:48:59 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
the "asian tiger" phenomenon of export-driven growth from the 60s through the 80s was primarily exports to the USA. Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea all had good relations with the USA
Not quite true. Trade for those nations was driven primarily by exports to richer, industrialized nations-- not the US specifically. Even today, the US accounts for only 11% of Singapore exports and 14% of South Korean exports. And Hong Kong's growth throughout the 70s and 80s was primarily in the finance and services sector, not exports.

You're seeing the correlation, just in reverse. A nation with a strong capitalistic economy and a high degree of economic freedom will almost certainly see high growth. It will, for the same reason, almost certainly have good relations with the US. Both results have the same root cause; one doesn't automaticaly engender the other.


RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By Obadiah on 10/7/2007 5:45:47 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Even today, the US accounts for only 11% of Singapore exports and 14% of South Korean exports
You cite this as if you expect that exports should have increased to the US. That's silly. Of course their export markets have diversified over time because modernization is self-perpetuating phenomenon. Back in the 60s and 70s during the "asian tiger" phenomenon, the primary source of exports was to the US.

quote:
You're seeing the correlation, just in reverse.
No, you are just trying to put words into my mouth, seems to be your MO around here. My original point still stands - the fighting of the Korean war was no lesson about Freedom because both the south and the north lacked Freedom for many decades afterwards. Using economic development as a proxy measure for Freedom is invalid as demonstrated by South Korea's rapid development under a series of dictatorships during the asian tiger phenomenon.


By masher2 (blog) on 10/7/2007 9:00:54 PM , Rating: 1
> "Back in the 60s and 70s during the "asian tiger" phenomenon, the primary source of exports was to the US"

It's my understanding that Singapore's primary trading partner has always been Malaysia. I know for a fact that the US has never encompassed the majority of foreign trade for either South Korea or Hong Kong. If you have a reference that states differently, please share it.

> "Using economic development as a proxy measure for Freedom is invalid "

It depends on how highly you value economic freedom. Hong Kong and Singapore have long held the top two slots of the Heritage Foundation's economic freedom list, which goes a long way towards explaining their growth rates.

In the case of South Korea, the situation is less clear. Certainly under Park's regime, citizens had much less personal freedoms than one expects from a modern democratic nation. However, in the nature of economic freedom, the nation trumped state-run economies like that of Greece, Spain or Italy.

Which set of freedoms is more important? I suspect a poor student would prefer the European model, whereas a middle-class businessman would choose South Korea. Personally, I value both equally.


RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By ElFenix on 10/6/2007 9:19:11 PM , Rating: 2
the lack of a peace deal and not the kims' paranoia (especially after seeing what happened to dictators like Nicolae Ceausescu) is keeping back north korea? that's rich.


RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By Obadiah on 10/7/2007 2:55:29 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
the lack of a peace deal and not the kims' paranoia (especially after seeing what happened to dictators like Nicolae Ceausescu) is keeping back north korea? that's rich.
The dictatorship in North Korea does not exist in a vacuum, few ever do. But the threat of resumption of hostilities is one of the strongest tools that the Kim's have to justify and maintain their dictatorship.

Perhaps you've seen this quote from the Nazi Hermann Goering before:
quote:
it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.


By Pneumothorax on 10/8/2007 9:50:15 AM , Rating: 2
Hmmm.. Sounds very similar to what I've been hearing in good 'ol USA.


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