See my response.
I'll take him on anyday about Korean history, and as long as he doesn't use the Foreign Languages Publishing House, Pyongyang edition of History of Korea, he might have a chance. However I doubt it.
The man who claims that reporting the facts about the DPRK is a "beat up" and "completely wrong".
The man who says they are "wonderfully engaged, well-dressed, fully employed and well informed".
I doubt he got to meet anyone with English that wasn't pre approved, so he couldn't seriously "engage", and I very much doubt if he was able to freely talk to anyone without others being present.
Well dressed? Well he didn't meet this girl, because she is dead, she was "fully employed" hunting rats and looking for grass for survival.
Well informed? Yes, thinking your founding leader saved the country, that the USA started the Korean War and the country's poor economic performance is due to a blockade, and south Korea is a poverty ridden colony of the USA - really well informed.
It's lack of international money he bemoans, but then borrowing from Western banks and simply defaulting doesn't exactly make for a credit rating worth glancing at.
Then Jo Morgan has been tricked well. 17 minutes of naive observations that the Korean Central News Agency wouldn't be ashamed of using, seemingly interviewed by Nick Tansley - former ZM Wellington clown. Not a high calibre journalist.
She talks about the wonderful local produce! The wonderful "muscular" young men, and how south Korean journalists said young men in the south were getting obese. She seems to bemoan the "Western softness" of Seoul.
She talks about how everyone is expected to do some manual work - fabulous and how fit they are.
She blames the manual labour on "sanctions", swallowing the state propaganda.
She "reckoned" 50-60% have cellphones, but then that was those she saw - the elite. She dismissed bans on foreigners using cellphones as "just a rule for foreigners", not because it risked live reports of what goes on.
She was gobsmacked - rightly - about the Arirang Mass Games (which are a remarkable spectacle), although again thinking it reported the "history" of the country, rather than it being propaganda and a symbol of how people are only important if they are in a mass collective action.
"You can't tell me these people are miserable" from seeing members of the elite singing and laughing together. No they aren't Jo. No.
"They seem well fed" says the woman who didn't spend time on Google Earth to note the burial mounds for the starving.
"our escorts were making sure we didn't get lost" Too funny. Really. Seriously, not there to ensure you didn't go explore on unapproved routes?
"The people want their children to be able to ride down into the south, they want reunification" Yes, they do, but the regime doesn't want it, unless it involves it being on their terms - which they know will never happen.
Finally, Gareth thinks division of Korea is due to "great powers". It was originally, for the USSR installed Kim Il Sung in the north, against the UN mandated declaration of the Republic of Korea as the government of the whole peninsula and resisting the (admittedly very flawed) elections that were meant to be the basis for a new government. Korea could be reunified tomorrow, except the regime in the north doesn't want to surrender its slave state that sustains a tiny elite, and the south doesn't want to be a slave state.
It's not about foreign powers, unless you believe the withdrawal of US troops (one deterrent to north Korean aggression, which is demonstrable)
NKNews (subscription once you read more than the minimum number of articles) reports on the trip.
Gareth says "the farms are perfect. They have no pollution”,
the standard of living was probably like south Korea "20 years ago"... astonishing.
Think maybe 50 years ago, the last time north Korea and south Korea were roughly equals in per capita income. North Korea WAS the rich half of Korea, south Korea the poor peasant half...
Capitalism made south Korea one of the top 20 economies in the world and now up with developed countries.
Shame Gareth is still admiring the system that has trapped, literally and economically, the people of the north in a 1960s timewarp.
I look forward to him admitting he is wrong, confessing he didn't know as much as he wished, and sorry for saying things complementary about a country that has such a vile government. I look forward to him noting that much of what he was told in the country was false and they were probably shown only what was permitted, in order to show the country in the best light, and that it sends shivers down their spines to think of children being in gulags today.
Really, I do...