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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 Jellodyne on 10/7/2007 2:30:22 PM , Rating: 2
> Could Britain have done much more to alleviate the results? Of course.

Way to lose the arguement -- This is a situation where the Brittish gobernment was not answerable to the Irish people, and as you say, could have done more to help.

> you'll be hard-pressed to find a single historian who doesn't recognize the root cause was the blight itself.

'Root' cause, I get it. In good times there is no need for the government to help. If there was no blight, there would have been no famine, duh. The issue here is whether the Irish people could have worked out some relief if they were in charge of their own government.


RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By masher2 (blog) on 10/7/2007 3:08:35 PM , Rating: 3
> "Way to lose the arguement -- This is a situation where the Brittish gobernment was not answerable to the Irish people"

I don't think you understand what the argument is. Answerable to the people or not, anytime a nation loses 90% of its primary food staple, there's going to be a humanitarian disaster. This isn't the 21st century we're talking about, with fast shipping, abundant food stocks, and a population eating a rich and varied diet. This is 1845, with 3 million peasants subsisting on potatoes as their only food source, a crop that, year after year, continued to suffer the effects of the worst blight then recorded in history.

The claim was made that this famine was no more than a conspiracy of British rule. That is false. A larger, better-coordinated relief effort from Britain certainly would have reduced the death toll...but people would have died regardless. This was a natural disaster, and a very large one.

There is a clear and distinct difference between initiating a disaster, and exacerbating a pre-existing one. One can argue, with a good deal of success, that British rule contributed to the effects of the potato famine. But blaming it entirely upon government action is foolishness.


RE: Kim has a reason to be proud
By Obadiah on 10/7/2007 6:02:43 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The claim was made that this famine was no more than a conspiracy of British rule.
Really? The only person I see making that claim is yourself.

The claim I made was that famines only happen when the rulers are not answerable to the people.

quote:
Ireland was struck much harder than the rest of Europe, for the simple reason that in 1845, Ireland was primarily a one-crop nation,
They became a one-crop nation under British rule, in large part due to British-imposed laws forcing the subdivision of lands over the generations to the point where potato farming was the only viable option for most farmers.

quote:
There is a clear and distinct difference between initiating a disaster, and exacerbating a pre-existing one. One can argue, with a good deal of success, that British rule contributed to the effects of the potato famine. But blaming it entirely upon government action is foolishness.
Foolishness that only you would attempt because no one else has made that argument. Easy for you to joust at windmills, fun for us to watch.

British indifference is what built the dependency on potatoes in the first place and British indifference is what prevented alleviation of the effects when that crop went sour. In other words, British indifference is what turned an otherwise mild agricultural problem -- as demonstrated by the effect on the rest of Europe -- into a catastrophic event.


By masher2 (blog) on 10/7/2007 8:02:41 PM , Rating: 3
> "The claim I made was that famines only happen when the rulers are not answerable to the people."

That's pretty much the same statement, now isn't it? You blame the famine on British rule, and dismiss the actual cause.

If you're trying to now argue that, had British policies been such that the Irish never developed a dependence on potatoes in the first place, then yes, quite obviously the famine would have been averted. That, however, is a statement so fatuously facile as to be utterly meaningless. It also ignores the fact that potatoes were not a randomly chosen crop. Acre for acre, they provide much more calories than other crops. Poor Irishmen could not afford to cultivate other foods, not without having access to a much larger land base.

Had Ireland been self-governed at the time, the famine still would have ocurred. It may have been somewhat less severe...it very well may have been worse (Britain did, after all, send at least some relief measures). But it still would have happened.

The truth is that in contemporary times, most famines are driven by politics and economics, not natural causes. That's simply because modern technology allows us to grow many times the food we actually need, and to avoid most agricultural disasters.

However, this wasn't true throughout most of human history. Nearly all famines were the result of crop failures, driven by changes in weather, insect infestations or plant diseases, or other natural causes.

And don't think we're immune to that today. A large meteor strike or other calamity could easily disrupt weather patterns for months or years, causing billions to starve. If that happens, it won't be because governments are not "answerable to the people". It'll be the simple fact of too few calories harvested for too many mouths.


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