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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 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.


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