Perhaps a few generations ago most Western societies looked upon North Korea with fear and trepidation, having been raised in a time that identified North Korea as a threat during the Cold War. However, now it seems that the image of fear has been replaced with one that revolves around a fascination with devastation and morbidity. The recent popularity of novels written by Western authors about North Korea, such as Blaine Harden’s Escape from Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the Westand Brandon W. Jones’s All Woman and Springtime, reveals the growth of the West’s captivation with the tales of the dark lives that the people of North Korea lead. The recent surge of new information coming from novels, which give the West a look into the enigmatic and mysterious self-enclosed world that is North Korea, may not necessarily be written with the intention of shocking and disturbing readers. But many seem to be written with the implication that they are exposing the ugly side of North Korean politics and society. Continue reading
If you’ve read Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel, you know how influential geography can be on the success or failure of a civilization. Honestly, I haven’t read the book myself, but I did read an article by Diamond summing up the whole book in three pages and, summing up three pages into three words, geography is destiny. He may not put it that strongly, but for example, looking at Europe, the similar climates stretching over the east-west axes facilitated human development whereas Africa and Latin America’s North-West axes hindered them. Other factors included proximity to coasts, domestication of animals, and the geographic susceptibility to disease. There were many other arguments, better explained and stated more clearly, but this is not a book review (but do go read it if you have the time and tell me about it).