Why do North Koreans despise America? As well as understanding the loopy leader Kim Jong-un and his tyrannical rule of North Korea and his heavy indoctrination of the people, it’s also worth exploring the long history of hatred for America and see what we can learn about our own way of life.
Like a lot of people my age, most of my knowledge about Korea comes from the TV show MASH. Of course it was funny, but also made some pretty insightful comments about the Korea War. One of my favorite moments was in an episode called Dr Pierce and Mr Hyde. Hawkeye stayed awake for 3 days treating wounded soldiers and worked himself into a frenzy. He stumbled into a Frank Burns lecture on why the Korea War was happening. Frank, doped up on patriotism, who once said to his tent mates, “This was a great war, ’till you guys showed up”, suggested that the war was because North Koreans envied the American way of life. If they could, he said, they would even steal American bathrooms.
This gave Hawkeye an idea. He decided to cross his legs until the end of the war and send the camp latrine to the North Koreans as a peace treaty. In his sleep deprived stupor, he connected the latrine to a truck and pulled it out of the ground right while a general was doing his business.
It was classic Hawkeye, and raises an important question. What IS the point of these wars and the massive loss of life? What does it mean to export western democracy?
There are many things that the west could give to North Korea that would genuinely help; affordable information technology, aid, food and scientific advances to name a few.
But if we’re honest, there are some other things that we need to do some work on before exporting; like a political system that is completely gridlocked and can barely pass an annual budget, a healthcare system that only the wealthiest can afford, a corrupt banking system and an out of control consumer mentality. We call it democracy, but it’s really capitalism that we intend to export. The crazy thing is it doesn’t give us the security or meaning we hope for, so why would we expect it to excite people in places like North Korea.
The Democracy Index 2011, compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit, placed North Korea last on its list of democracies. But America was 19th, and below both below the former communist Czech Republic and Uruguay, a former right-wing dictatorship that did not achieve democracy until 1984.
The Democracy Index is based on five categories: electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, how government functions, political participation by the public, and political culture.
The truth is that the people of North Korea don’t crave our bathrooms. I’m sure they would like some food, and a lot more freedom than they have, but they can do a lot better than capitalism and so-called democracy.
As film maker John Pilger said,
The major western democracies are moving towards corporatism. Democracy has become a business plan, with a bottom line for every human activity, every dream, every decency, every hope. The main parliamentary parties are now devoted to the same economic policies — socialism for the rich, capitalism for the poor — and the same foreign policy of servility to endless war. This is not democracy. It is to politics what McDonalds is to food.