North Korea: a Dash to Freedom

By | November 27, 2017

[November 27, 2017]  As I watched the video of a North Korean soldier escape into the South, I’m reminded of the East German guard’s “leap to freedom” in 1961.  Both have something in common and that is the desire to flee communism and its dehumanizing effects on its captive citizenry.  Communist North Korea is no place to live.

A New York Sun editorial gives a good description of the escape and shows a New York Times short video (embedded, 2:02 minutes, link here) so I will not duplicate their efforts.  Near the village of Panmunjom,1 on November 13th and just outside the Demilitarized Zone, the escape took place and was a brazen attempt at fleeing the repression of dictator Kim Jong Un.

What we don’t see are people fleeing capitalistic nations and voluntarily going to those with a communist system of government.  The reason is simple and obvious.  If we were to measure the quality of life in any communist or highly socialist nation, it would not meet the basic standards of life elsewhere.  Despite the love affair many Westerners have with communism, reality often gets in the way a little too often.

Living a comfortable life in the West we are puzzled why more people do not make the leap to freedom.  Other than risking one’s own life and potentially the lives of family members left behind, there is a good reason most will not attempt to escape.  The majority of people living in North Korea are so dedicated to their supreme leader (the dynasty now in its third generation) that nothing could convince them to leave.

There is a lesson in this for Western leaders who assume the North Korean peoples have the same wants, desires, and dreams as we do.  North Koreans are a people who fully support their leader and would resist the onslaught of an invasion into their homeland.  Many revolutions have failed for the reason that the average person does not support it.

The defector was shot several times during the escape but is alive and in the hospital where his medical condition has become news in itself.  Suffering from the gunshot wounds, he also has signs of malnutrition and large intestinal worms.  He lived in the conditions of a third world country; a nation that is pursuing nuclear weapons in an all out effort to deter aggression from the West.

Western leaders need to learn the right lessons from this and not assume North Korea will fall from a revolution or uprising from its citizenry.  They will also fight to protect their leader and their country.

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  1. I highly recommend reading “From Pusan to Panmunjom: Wartime Memoirs of the Republic of Korea’s First Four-Star General” by Paik Sun Yup. I met the elderly man a few years ago and was honored greatly by both the meeting and the warm welcome I received in his sparse office located in Seoul, South Korea.  The book is on my recommended reading list (see link here).

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