Whilst the US and other mainstream Western media continue to interview children going to school in Connecticut following the shooting, milking the sadness and showing concern for how they cope with the stress of the appalling crime (which is fair enough), I thought it was time to get some perspective.
At the moment in North Korea there are over 150,000 people in gulags. This includes children. It is impossible to know how many are children, but it is likely to be in the low thousands.
They are slaves. They get little food. The temperature averages at -10 Celsius, the gulags are unheated. They are awoken at dawn and expected to work every day, doing menial tasks. Those too young to work get beaten, neglected, sexually abused and tortured for sadistic pleasure. They are told every day how useless they are, as sons and daughters of counter-revolutionary traitors, lackeys of Americans and Japanese.
"Id just turned twelve, and I remember wishing I would die soon” (Kang Chol-Hwan "Aquariums of Pyongyang")
So note that whilst the world paid attention to the DPRK's rocket and its now failing satellite, and the propaganda around the first anniversary of Kim Jong Il's death (and placement in a mausoleum), it doesn't ever pay enough attention to the children in the gulags there.
Forced to live in prisons high in the mountain valleys, from babies. They receive rations that are starvation level, those who survive do so by eating bugs, mice and other things they can forage or hunt for. Many are physically abused, some sexually abused, when old enough they are forced to work from dawn to late in the evening, every day. It is one step removed from Nazi concentration camps, in that it isn’t gassing used to eliminate them, simply hard work, cold and malnutrition.
So this Christmas, whilst you may naturally spare a thought for the parents of the children who were killed in the shooting, and the kids left behind, you'd do worse than to be distressed and angry at the ones in North Korea. Angrier still at the willing idiots in the West who defend it, and angry at the Western politicians who have been too scared to bring this issue up at every appropriate opportunity.
As cute and amusing as North Korea is, it really isn't. It's unspeakably vile, and at this time of year that vileness will seen many many children die of malnutrition, hypothermia and torture, because of a state, a philosophy and a system that devalues life and dehumanises in a way that is difficult to exaggerate.