Disclaimer: notes transcribed as is, no editing has been made so as to preserve my original feelings as I read the chapter.
Part 6, Around The World And Above; Chapter 3, Hyungchol Choi.
With the current unrest in North Korea, this chapter is somewhat scary. I’ve done a little history project or two over the years on Korea’s war, the 38th parallel & the differences between the people living on either side of it.
Coupled with a movie & tv programme like M*A*S*H* to amuse & silently educate me.
Hyungchol is, I suppose, a typical example of a South Korean. Modern enough to know his country’s history but not afraid of “the enemy”. He seems to pity his Northern countrymen more than anything else, comparing his freedom in an open society that is not only prosperous but educated in ways the North can never hope to be.
What is worrying, is that the Southern government seems to have entirely misread the North’s mass retreat into areas unknown. Guards, whole units of soldiers leaving their posts completely unattended. Villages of people suddenly disappearing.
From Hyunchol describes, North Korea must have looked like a complete “ghost-town”. The only possible explanation he puts forward, is that they must have misjudged the size & scale of the North’s underground dwellings. How can an entire country make it’s population of twenty-three million (or close enough to) simply and abruptly disappear.
He continues about the signs, surveillance, spies, and so all vanishing as if these people had simply ceased to be.
Before we knew it, there wasn’t a living soul left from the Yalu to the DMZ.
An extraordinary feat. But Hungchol mentions that this is the way the North indoctrinated their people. Follow orders without question. Still, it is impressive to command that kind of discipline, for good or ill. As he says, I’m sure Hitler would’ve been impressed.
I can’t say whether this kind of blind obedience is still the “standard practice” in North Korea, humans have a way of suddenly & inexplicably seeing instead of just looking.
A pity the South didn’t seem to fare too well but then, I suppose their leaders were so worried of what the North might be “up to” that they simply couldn’t manage when their own side began to see outbreaks. At least they had the Chung Doctrine, a Korean version of Redeker’s plans no doubt.
About his idea of exploring the North, not sure if that really is a good idea. He notes the arguments for & against and I’m with those against.
What if you open the door to some underground city and twenty-three million zombies come spewing out?
Excuse me if I think Hungchol should let sleeping dogs lie.
If the North wish to open their doors, let them do it on their own terms & in their own time. I just hope the surrounding areas are prepared, for the worst.