12 September 2013

Gareth Morgan once made fun of North Korea

As a footnote to the recent saga of Gareth Morgan and the DPRK, I happened to find this... (you see North Korea watchers do collect material referring to the country)

You see, oddly enough in 2000, Gareth Morgan did find the pejorative, stereotyping of north Korea to be just fine when he was writing a column for the NBR. 

I suspect (and indeed there is evidence that) the DPRK is not very adept at researching those who seek Visas for travel there.   I doubt this column would have helped.

  In fact he used it to compare to the Clark Government, which is of course great fun for libertarians, but is in the same boat as "it's like Singapore".

His view then was that the DPRK is "the last surviving example of socialism gone horribly wrong", which doesn't exactly match the glowing image of farms and the economic struggles being seen to be due to the "economic blockade".

He said "everyone is in the same boat, they're starving", a view reversed by getting to see the people made available on the self-selected, but approved route.  

He talks then of the ruling elite having "expropriated heaps of money from the people to keep themselves and a few cronies in comfort".   Not a peep about this now.

"This Stalinist amusement park would suit someone like Tony Simpson in Jim Anderton's office"  and to think of what he called me when I pointed out the nature of this regime and system.  He already knew.

Now I have this column because I liked it, it was amusing, and it showed a cursory awareness of the totalitarian nightmare of the country, and the economic catastrophe it is.


09 September 2013

Gareth Morgan seems to back down by erasing the past

Throughout the history of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the Orwellian maxim that "he who controls the present controls the past and he who controls the past controls the future" has be.en the backbone philosophy to justify the personality cults that have led the country.   I've written about this already in the past few days.  Quite simply it would be a bombshell for many in the country to learn that Kim Il Sung's role in defeating the Japanese was that of a small guerrilla leader who achieved a handful of tactical victories before fleeing for his life to the USSR, and that the USA had a dominant role in rolling back the Japanese.  Similarly to know that it was Kim Il Sung who launched the war that devastated the entire peninsula, and that it was only because Mao was willing to supply so much cannon fodder that his Stalinist regime survived.  

Gareth Morgan's exploits on his blog have been rewritten, as is his right, here.

He has said:

We welcome your thoughts to improve the quality of discussion. If you think you can value with news, data, or research you are welcome to contribute.

Please be respectful of others opinions. Abusive or defamatory comments are not welcome and comments are moderated.

Pot kettle. He has since removed his libel threat and his lengthy ad-hominem attack on me which started with a diatribe against ad-hominem attacks.  He has edited many of my comments extensively, and has done the same to his own, adding in one:

"I am in no way sympathetic to the form of governance in North Korea."

Sure had a lot of us fooled.  

There is much more in the language now used in the edited comments to suggest a more reasonable interpretation for what he saw.  Had he said all that in the first place, there would be far far less to criticise him about.   

He has still helped to feed the DPRK's propaganda machine of course - that horse has bolted.

However, so have his original comments. 

I am sure that the reporting by Not PCWhaleoil and Kiwiblog has helped him realise that he had precious few friends beyond Marxist conspiracy theorists and the regime itself in taking me on, and his own outpouring of ill considered anger (including thinking he knew about my education and belittling it) in response to my bitterness at him, has been erased.

He has also edited my comments, whereby I express my incredulity at what he originally said.

I suspect that is the closest I will get to an apology and a withdrawal.  A victory of sorts?

Of course, it is highly entertaining that it comes in the form of an Orwellian rewriting of opinions.  However, it is his blog.  I actually do believe in private property rights.

However, despite his valiant efforts, this little episode can't be so easily erased from history, for many others have seen and repeated them.

I look forward to seeing whether the MSM takes him on when he finally returns to NZ, for his original comments and behaviour in being confronted with the absurdity of them, have exposed weaknesses.   He hasn't the humility to apologise.

I'll leave it to you to decide as to what it says about the man.

07 September 2013

"Prison camp? Nothing could be FURTHER from the truth" Gareth Morgan on the DPRK

The Australian Federal Government owned ABC is clearly a tool of Western propaganda to demonise the DPRK.  The ABC picks some highlights from what he has said...

""the imagery that you get from this almost concerted effort to demonise the place...it that it must be like one massive prison camp, nothing could be further from the truth."

Yep except from virtually no one being allowed to leave the country, and the comprehensive internal passport system, with military checkpoints at the entrance of most towns (he didn't notice this?). Except for the actual gulags.  Except for the compulsory adoration of the four person personality cult. Except for the secret police, the red guards, the compulsory weekly self-criticism and neighbourly criticism sessions.  Except for the complete absence of private property regarding home ownership. Except for the complete prohibition on any publishing that isn't by the state.  Except for the death penalty for listening to broadcasts from the outside world.

"preconceptions that the people are starving are actually not true. He says the group found people were eating well and local crops were healthy."

Western propaganda then.  He saw it all, got to visit any villages he asked.  That campaign a few years ago "let's eat two meals a day" was misreported.  What he saw was a fair reflection of what was real.

Farming is self-sufficient, labour intensive but very productive.

Throughout the famines in the Ukraine in the 1930s and China in the 1960s, visitors were shown productive farms and statistics indicated growing production.  Sure north Korea has no famine now, but to swallow the "very productive" claim is naive.

The problem is that the country's sanctions mean there are no reserves - a facet Gareth Morgan says could lead to famine.

Oh so it would be fine as a totalitarian centrally planned economy then?  China shouldn't have decollectivised farming, that was obviously foolish.  It's all the fault of the foreigners.  Convenient, and swallowing the party line once more.  Of course why are there sanctions?  Those nuclear weapons it promised to dismantle in exchange for help in developing a nuclear power generation facility, which it then developed anyway?  The constant exporting of missile technology to Iran, Syria and other rogue states that threaten Western allies?

because of the sanctions they are isolated.

Yes, not at all a country that isolates itself is it?  Such an open engagement allowed  between its people and the world.

Mr Morgan says that Koreans dress well noting that ladies wear gumboots with heels on them.

Noticing the important things.  

He says interaction between the group and ordinary North Koreans proved quite difficult.

Finally, a hint of acknowledgement of the core problem.  

Unlike in South Korea where people are free to chat he says that people in North Korea are all organised in work parties but say they did manage to meet a few North Koreans when they were at a beach resort.

The workers' paradise ensures even those of the lowest standing get to go on beach holidays right? Oh, maybe it's just more members of the elite?

The group were escorted throughout North Korea by a huge motorcade including a car with loudspeakers telling everyone what they were doing.

Yes the country is full of loudspeakers.  Did Jo understand what was being said?  Was it telling people what to do as well?  We may never know.

06 September 2013

Gareth Morgan threatens me with libel.... and insults me.. *shrugs*


No self reflection.

No addressing of the core questions and issues.

Wilful blindness?  Or does he simply not believe that what he saw was carefully selected?  Or does he have a cunning plan that he isn't mentioning? (!)

I don't know.. but let me have a go, respecting that he no longer wishes me to engage on his blog.  So I will respond to his comments, which say a lot in view.  Particularly an unwillingness to read.  He deleted my responses to the halfwits who claim the DPRK is "misunderstood" and even apologise for Assad.  That is "spam". 

Yes.. really.

05 September 2013

Gareth Morgan thinks I am ignorant about the DPRK

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...

03 September 2013

North Korean history lies

Given Gareth Morgan's affection for the country once described as "a place where George Orwell's 1984 was taken not as a warning, but as a textbook manual as to how to run a country", I thought I'd point out some of the biggest lies perpetuated by the regime in Pyongyang.  The saddest thing about it, is that I doubt if most of the elite even know this.  

These are lie the Kim gangster family have generated and it starts with:

- Korea was liberated from the Japanese imperialists by a group of loyal anti-Japanese patriots led by Marshal Kim Il Sung.

No, it was liberated by the United States, with the USSR having a tiny role at the very end.  Kim Il Sung spent the last four years of WW2 in the USSR.

- Kim Il Sung founded the Korean People's Army when he was 21.

No, it was founded in 1948, which was acknowledged until he decided in the early 1960s to rewrite history.

- Kim Il Sung arrived in Pyongyang greeted by hundreds of thousands grateful he had liberated the country.

No, he was brought in by the Red Army and trained to be their stooge.

- The Korean War was started by the US imperialists.

No, Kim Il Sung got authorisation from Moscow and Peking to launch the attack.  Soviet records prove that Stalin gave the approval.

- The Great Fatherland Liberation War (Korean War) was a great victory.

No it was a stalemate.  The military demarcation line is roughly where it was when the war started, so nothing was gained, but millions were killed.

- Kim Jong Il was born on the sacred Mt Paektu where he saw his father and mother preparing as they fought the Japanese.

No, he was born near Khabarovsk in the USSR.

- South Korea is a country of abject poverty and despair.

You know the truth. 

- South Korea is run as a colony by the US to use South Korean as slave labour

South Korea has long been independently minded, and has been a fairly robust liberal democracy since 1988

- Most of the world is wracked with crime, corruption, poverty and slavery, the people of Korea have nothing to envy


- The reason the DPRK has economic problems is because of the blockade by the US imperialists.

The reason is because it is the most centrally planned Stalinist state left on the planet, with market signals having little influence compared to the whims of the gangster family running it.

- Kim Il Sung is renowned worldwide as a genius and great man, who fought hard for the right of countries to be independent and people to be liberated.  Millions around the world worship his works.

Yes, well, need I say more?  Besides a few useful idiots, he's a laughing stock.

- Kim Jong Il is similarly renowned.

"Team America"

- The "arduous march" (mass starvation 1995-1998) was due to the US imperialists and some bad weather.

It was due to the diversion of economic effort to the military as Kim Jong Il sought to avoid a military coup after his father's death, and the storms that destroyed crops broke the back of the state farming sector.

- The United States and Japan are constantly seeking ways to invade and occupy north Korea

The US and Japan are deterring a north Korean attack and have no interest in any occupation. However, the regime does maintain a constant "we're on the brink of war" footing.  Read Orwell's 1984 to understand that.

- All of the Korean people love Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il and just wish reunification of the country

Most Koreans despise them, and few south Koreans want reunification on north Korean terms.  Many fear the cost of rebuilding a broken country, but many also are deeply distressed by the division of families

- Korean reunification would happen if only the US withdrew its bases from south Korea

It might, because north Korea would feel more free to invade

SO that is a start. I wonder how many of these myths Gareth has swallowed?