Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Communism: Capital Punishment for the Innocent

WSJ's former deputy editor Melanie Kirkpatrick reports in today's Opinion section that North Korea's seal on information is leaking. A Free Press Stirs in North Korea.

It appears North Korea has more of a responsible media than we do, albeit not their choice.

North Koreans reporting from inside North Korea. Incredible as it may seem in a country where journalism as it is practiced in the West is punishable by a trip to the gulag or public execution, such reporters are a new and growing phenomenon. Armed with easy-to-hide pinhole cameras and flash drives, they are getting videos, photographs and written information out of North Korea.

Sounds like something a right-winger would do at the local ACORN office!

Kirkpatrick reports that Jiro Ishimaru, a Japanese journalist, sends his ten reporters into North Korea from China with cameras and money. They bribe their way around the country and return with pictures and information.

It is next to impossible for ordinary North Koreans to get close to military installations, the gulag or Kim Jong Eun. So the reporters have decided to focus on day-to-day life in North Korea, especially starvation, the growing market economy and corruption. They have produced more than 100 hours of video on these subjects. Among the tapes I viewed were ones that showed bags of rice labeled "WFP"—for the United Nations World Food Program—being sold in a marketplace, and soldiers using a military truck as a bus service for paying customers.

The information doesn't flow just one way. Mr. Ishimaru's reporters also try to get information about the outside world into North Korea, usually in the form of CDs containing videos of South Korean soap operas, news shows or documentaries. Before DVD players came into use in China, VCD players—video CD players—had a short run of popularity. Chinese merchants now sell these discarded devices, along with CDs, across the border in North Korea. It's against the law to possess a VCD player or to watch South Korean videos, but the law-enforcement system has broken down enough that more and more North Koreans are taking the risk, assuming that if they get caught they can bribe local officials to look the other way.

The cracks are forming. Soon - but not soon enough - the blinding glare of freedom will shine in the North and the world will once again see the evils of socialism.

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