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LIBERTY: North Korea

by Laurenh6

Take a trip to Pyongyang- capital city of North Korea. Throughout your stay, you will be guided by members of the military who take you to specific places, at specific times. On the surface, North Korea seems like a nice place to be. YouTuber Louis Cole shows this as he ventures through the country’s attractions, such as a water park, and restaurant filled with the vibrancy of traditional Korean dishes and dancing. In his video of ‘North Korea Day 1’, Louis admits that as a tourist, “It’s been quite an amazing’s slightly different than I thought actually, people are way more friendlier, smiley...”. Despite the amazing attractions that North Korea has to offer, it is questionable why tourism is so tightly controlled. What is it that the supreme leader Kim Jong-un has to hide? The answer is quite simple - reality.

Just like the restrictions of tourism, the 24 million people living in North Korea are contained within a bubble of nationalistic views towards the supreme leader; who is represented as godly, as his father was suggestively born beneath a double rainbow. These views are forced upon the people through education and propaganda. A shocking example of this is shown in Andrei Lankov’s book ‘The Real North Korea’ (2015) in which he unexpectedly expresses that 20% of the questions in North Korean maths textbooks are directed towards the “American imperial bastards”, which calculate “how many bastards did they kill all together?”. As shown, Kim Jong-un aims to manipulate those from a young age into believing that the countries beyond North Korea are enemies, or sufferers. This aims to make the North Korean people believe that the best way of life exists within their nation, and there is no other option. Anyone who tries to leave the country, or speaks of an alternative viewpoint to the respected beliefs is sent to a prison camp, or publicly executed in front of their friends and family.

In summary, a typical day of a tourist completely contrasts to that of a general citizen. A North Korean person wakes up everyday to blaring megaphones which scream positivity regarding their supreme leader. Some then go to work at struggling farms, which the Guardian (2012) suggests to be the major cause of malnourishment in a third of North Korean children. However, the Global Firepower ™ suggests that over half of the population are part of the North Korean army which aims to spread fear in its military parades. Regardless of their position in society, all people then return home to be met by an inminban official. Andrei Lankov explains that these officials have control over every movement of residents in a specific area. Undertaking surveillance, making sure there is no foreign contraband, and reporting any suspicious behaviour. Consequently, this puts each North Korean at a position in the songbun caste system- a record of who is a ‘loyal’, ‘wavering’ or ‘hostile’ citizen. This position is usually dependent on how your previous male ancestors behaved in the 1940’s-1950’s. The most ‘loyal’ citizens are usually those which are exposed to foreign tourists. This is because the government knows they will show North Korea in a positive light.

It is therefore quite obvious that a suffocating political system exists in North Korea today. Some commit to their current lifestyle due to the convincing propaganda, and some commit to being ‘loyal’ out of fear. Other citizens believe they need to escape for a better life, but this is an extremely difficult task to achieve.

Escaping through the demilitarised zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea is impossible. It is said to be approximately 150 miles long ( and is the most heavily guarded DMZ worldwide which presents the threat of mines, electrocution and gunfire. Travelling by a boat in the Yellow Sea to South Korea is also unreliable. As suggested by Kent Bento (2017), there is a risk of storms, in addition to being captured through the North Korean naval control. Alternatively, a North Korean could take the northern escape to China, through either the Tumen or Yalu river. This is guarded too, but it is a more popular route for escapists. Unfortunately, even if they reach China, North Koreans are still not safe. China is an ally of the North Korean government - so any escapists are instantly seen as criminals. These intruders are then sent back to North Korea to be severely tortured. Or, once China is reached, North Koreans may be captured by Chinese traffickers who sell them as slaves or prostitutes. This is why we need Liberty North Korea.

Liberty North Korea is a non-profit organisation working alongside North Korean refugees helping them escape through a 3,000 mile secret rescue route which extends from North Korea into south-east Asia. The North Korean refugees travel by car, boat, and foot to reach their goal of freedom, as safely and quickly as possible. So far, Liberty North Korea has rescued 618 refugees from the political oppression they have faced. This is an amazing achievement, but they are still in need of more resources and funding to continue to make progress.

Therefore, I strongly encourage you to help fundraise for such a worthy cause. Perhaps, hold a bake sale, sell out a concert, or even start an art exhibition. Raise the figures of those refugees who manage to reach safety and enjoy greater freedoms.

For more information, go to:

Lauren Haughey

Sources used:

1. Global Firepower (GFP TM) (2017) 2017 North Korea Military Strength, Available at: (Accessed: 24/04/2017).

2. Tania Branigan, The Guardian (2012) North Korean farmers may be able to keep more crops after reforms , Available at: (Accessed: 24/04/2017).

3. John O'Nolan (2011) The Most Heavily Guarded Border in The World: The Korean Demilitarised Zone, Available at: (Accessed: 24/04/2017)., HISTORY (2017) Demilitarised Zone, Available at: (Accessed: 24/04/2017).

5. Kento Bento (2017) How Would You Escape North Korea? (The 7 Choices) , Available at: (Accessed: 24/04/2017).

6. Liberty in North Korea (2016) #AllForOne - North Korean Refugee Rescues , Available at: (Accessed: 24/04/2017).

7.Andrei Lankov (2015) The Real North Korea: Life and politics in the failed Stalinist utopia, Oxford University Press

8. FunforLouis, Louis Cole (2016) I'M ACTUALLY VLOGGING THIS! - North Korea Day 1 , Available at: (Accessed: 24/04/2017).

9. FunforLouis, Louis Cole (2016) WATER PARK INJURY! - North Korea Day 2 , Available at: (Accessed: 24/04/2017).

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740 Reviews

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Sat Feb 03, 2018 6:37 pm
ShadowVyper wrote a review...

Hey Laurenh6,

Shady here with a review for you!

This is a really fascinating essay that you wrote. It's very eye opening, though it does make me wonder about the reliability of the information. You used a bunch of sources, which is great -- but have any of those people who wrote about North Korea actually been there?

I'm not saying that I doubt what you said. From what I know of North Korea, everything you said seems reasonable and entirely within the realm of possibilities. It's cruel and inhumane what those poor people go through at the hands of their own government -- it just made me wonder.

Overall, however, I really enjoyed this piece. Your grammar and spelling is immaculate, and I think this is a very important issue that needs to receive more attention than it does. And I think you did an excellent job of shining light on that issue. I checked out the website you linked, and it looks like a very cool organization. If I had the wherewithal to help them out, I would definitely donate -- but I'm very glad to see that people are trying to help.

The only other thing I thought to mention is that it's not a great idea to post your full name on YWS. Overall this is a safe community, but you never know who might be reading what you post. I'm pretty sure we're not actually supposed to give out our full name. *shrug*

Keep writing!

~Shady 8)

Laurenh6 says...

Hi , sorry only just seen this, thank you ever so much for the feedback! All the people i have referenced have been to North Korea :) .

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841 Reviews

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Reviews: 841

Wed Jan 31, 2018 3:08 pm
Radrook wrote a review...

Hello! Radrook here to try to provide some helpful advice to help others improve in writing poetry and prose. I always try to be tactful but sometimes might come across a but too critical. In such cases please forgive me since it is done only with the motive of helping and not harming the writer. However, you have my apologies in advance if indeed that happens to be the case in this particular instance.

The first thing that impressed me about your essay is that you provided the references to back up your statements with authority and that helps in distacing your statements from mere personal opinion. It is a way of lending authority which goes a long way in adding persuasivess and is indeed that formal way that sch an article is expected to be presented. So when I started to read i knew I wasn't being merely presented with unsubstantiated data.

Of course, such references don't guarantee that an article isn't card stacked or illogical in some other way. But seeing it included does indicate that the writer recognizes the importance of backing up persuasion with relevant authoritative ad hopefully unbiased references. That is the impression I got even before I read the article.

Then there is the subject matter itself that caught my interest. Korea is indeed a very controversial country due to its communist militaristic posturing and its potential threat of being one fact which could trigger a WWIII.

Unfortunately, nagging headache prevents me from going on at this moment. But I will come back to this review later. My apologies.

Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.
— Søren Kierkegaard