It is amazing to me how a country can become so isolated in today’s framework of international policy. I watched a fascinating secret documentary on North Korea last night, made in 2001. Lisa Ling, working for National Geographic, went undercover with an eye doctor to report on the current situation in the country. She was told that she was the only American that would be in the country at the time.
The doctor she traveled with was a stunning humanitarian. He performed 1,000 cataract surgeries in ten days (the longest amount of time guests were allowed to enter the country). He gave sight to so many people. The shocking thing was though, that instead of thanking the doctor, the patients immediately began worshipping their leader, Kim Jong-il.
That was the most interesting part of the documentary for me. The North Koreans so vehemently praise this man, who they see as equivalent to the son of God. Before their surgeries when the patients were still blind, they were asked what they wanted to see. They immediately said that they wanted to see “The Great Leader.” This man, in the people’s mind, is responsible for every blessing. One woman said that she wouldn’t be alive today if it weren’t for his protection.
For the few that don’t worship Kim Jong-il, escape is unlikely. There have only been a handful that has escaped and many of them die in the process. One man described his journey where he had to watch his fellow escapee die beneath the electric barbed wire. The man that did escape said that North Korea was a nice place to live, except there was one essential element that the country lacked: freedom. When asked what happened to his family, he didn’t want to respond…
Are the North Koreans happy? The people certainly seem to be because under the security of their leader. But it is all they know. There are no cell phones and no Internet allowed and television is regulated by the government. I will let you form your own opinion of the situation but with the recent news of North Korea bombing South Korea, I think it is something to be aware of. Would you be happy living there? To see the full documentary, you can watch it here:
The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook