Tuesday, August 16, 2005

North Korea

Since visiting Romania in 2002, I've been fascinated with communist countries. I like the tenets of communism.. the reciprocity, self-reliance, goal of equality, and resolve to be the best. If only communist leaders didn't need to horde so much wealth for themselves and spend money on huge, impractical displays of power to ensure they don't get ousted. If there were a way around that, perhaps communism would work. Karl Marx writes about capitalism and the eradication of the middle class. The CEO's get richer and the poor get poorer. As Nike profits the sweatshop labourers it commissions to do its dirty work struggle to survive. Marx showed how large corporations self-perpetuate into behemoths.. they need increasingly larger profits to stay in power, which results in cutting jobs, outsourcing, and a greater divide between the rich West and poorer East. Communism's ideals seem to hold some answers.. but why does Communism have so many of the same predictable flaws in practice?

For example:

In 1987, Kim Jong began building what was to be the world's largest hotel. Construction stopped in 1992, due to lack of funds and instability due to sub-par concrete. It now looms over the city, window-less and empty, costing 2% of the country's GDP, as the citizens starve..

^For comparison, here is Ceacescu's (former communist leader of Romania) palace. Built to be the largest palace in the world, it was also made out of low grade materials, resulting in a ceiling caving in. Like the hotel, the palace is pretty empty.

A few months ago, while I still worked at eBay, Brent sent me a bunch of intriguing North Korea links and suggested we visit it. It sounded like a great idea at the time. However, the trip is rather pricey and involves a lot of paperwork. In the meantime, these are some fascinating videos:

The Dear Leader Kim Jong II on horseback (check out his feet.. they barely reach below the saddle)

Korean schoolgirls marching

Some of the frighteningly talented North Korean kids dancing

Brent also sent me one of the most revealing journals of a westerner who toured N. Korea. I lost the link but I'll post it later after I ask him for it. > Ps: 1 week left till I leave!


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