I don’t use the term ‘evil’ often because it’s a relative and meaningless term, in whose name people promote ‘good’ that gets carried away and turns into – you guessed it – ‘evil’! But today is an exception.
The reason lies in North Korea, where Kim Jong-il, dictator and supreme ruler, reportedly passed away a few days ago, sparking a wave of hysteric sadness in the country that ultimately exposes the wicked cruelty inflicted on the North Korean people. Here we are, the rest of the world, outside looking in, observing this sad nation getting abused, unable to do anything about it.
North Koreans live in a system of propaganda and mind control. They’re made to believe the most incredible lies, stuff you’d laugh about, if it were part of a movie.
For example, North Koreans are taught that their leader is a god who controls the weather and doesn’t pee or poop.
They’re also taught that the internet is a myth that was started by agitators, and that Mercedes-Benz is a North Korean initiative.
They’re also warned that foreigners can make them ill, so they should never approach, and must notify the authorities if they see one.
In other words, sanity and truth no longer exist in North Korea. We know this well, we’ve been watching it unfold for decades, witnessing an entire people getting destroyed and ransacked by thugs, unable to do anything about it.
North Korea is the Stanford Prison Experiment turned official, on a super-massive scale
Social-psychology-wise, this situation is a rarity and, unfortunately, every group dynamics researcher’s dream. Through it sociologists, anthropologists and social psychologists have an opportunity to study the effects of mass conformity, coercion, influence, herding effects, rationalization, and a myriad other factors involved in group behavior. North Korea is the unethical experiment everyone wanted to run since the fall of Nazism in order to find out more about how people are led to irrational behavior and a blinkered existence. It’s the Stanford Prison Experiment turned official, on a super-massive scale.
To cut the long story short, North Korea is a gigantic prison. A derelict, devastating place on Earth, rendered as such by the methodical crushing of millions of people’s minds. A Truman Show with a flair for the insane.
Truth is, it started off many decades ago with the best of intentions. The creed of People’s/Party Communism rose up to challenge the cruelty and injustice of the world, promising to eliminate poverty, reduce crime, bring an end to strife, and make the world a better place to live in. The people of North Korea happily gave their support to the glossy Party cause, eager to create this better world, and found themselves in the grip of one of the worst regimes in mankind’s history.
It was a scam made in hell, by hideous people. The very notion of promising something so good to millions of individuals only to deceive, subjugate, abuse and crush them, turning their own dreams against them, was akin to giving a baby sweeties, luring it into a safe room and… Truly horrifying, evil stuff!
So here we are, watching the abused North Koreans lament the death of the man whose regime has been ravaging them for decades. It’s a sad case. Like victims of abduction, North Koreans exhibit symptoms of Stockholm Syndrome – dependence and affection for their abductors and jailers – on a mass scale. Such is the depth of their ignorance, their dependence on those who oppress them.
It makes one’s skin crawl.
Furthermore, videos have surfaced of North Koreans grieving in public. The images are powerful, showing mourners on their knees, banging the ground with their fists, crying, screaming, a din of sorrow. The perfect propaganda tool. Most of these scenes are staged, surely, executed by actors and confederates, prompters whose job is to consolidate a mournful state of mind. The scam takes place right in front of our eyes, and we’re unable to stop it, unable to scream out and let every North Korean know that they’re being taken for a ride. That their minds are getting raped on live TV, in front of the entire world.
Evil! Truly, deeply, horrifyingly evil. Kim Jong-il’s North Korea is the snuff movie that should have been banned. It’s an example of the basest capacities of authority, encapsulating everything dangerous and vile in corrupt leadership, and it should not exist.
Yet here it is, in its perverse glory, feeding off the livelihoods of millions of abused North Koreans while feeding the rest of us an unhealthy dose of horror over the net/airwaves, making us either cringe with revulsion or move along with apathy, desensitized as we have become from the constant bombardment of information. Either that, or we’re eager to turn away and erase the spectacle from memory. We don’t want to entertain the horrifying aspects of reality for too long, out of fear of having our worldview messed up. We can’t afford to pay attention to things that make us feel we live in a cruel world. Our attention shifts, and our cognitive dissonance is eased through a number of convenient rationalizations: I can’t do anything about it; it’s too far away; everyone has problems; I have a family to feed and no time to waste crusading for people across the world, and even if I did, what difference would I make?; there’s a financial crisis going on; I’m hungry, I want a burger and salad, etc – and life goes on.
We’re also missing the point, not focusing on the root of the problem, the thing that should not be (which has every chance to be when we stop watching out for it). Once again, we focus on the spectacle, analyzing the level of cruelty enforced on an entire people, blaming the generals of North Korea about what’s happening, all the while forgetting that what’s really at work is the tendency of people to give themselves over to the dreams of a few players, who, instead of helping them out, take them for a ride, render them helpless, and ravage them at will.
Which raises the question: are we, the so-called free world, immune from this level of corruption? How susceptible are we in turn?
This isn’t a North Korean phenomenon. It happens everywhere, but we pretend it’s a local problem, not paying attention to what drives it, what it means in the grand scheme of things – a sad and brutal aspect of reality that defines humanity at its core, on the grand sociopolitical scale, happening over and over again, since the beginning of history, current times notwithstanding.
Which raises the question: are we, the so-called free world, immune from this level of corruption? (We’re not, but we pretend to be.) How susceptible are we in turn? What if our dreams and promised land, good and free-spirited as they started off, aren’t what they were made out to be? What if they were hijacked by the Kim Jong-il’s of our society, rendering us actors in a sick, elaborate show where the directors sit high above, calling the shots, while the rest of us respond to the stage set around us?
Ten or twenty years ago, the question might have been deemed reactionary and unconstructive. Now it feels apt and relevant.
North Korea is a sad reminder of how life is prone to entropy, a case study that exposes the weak points in the human condition, regardless of nationality and geography.
Ironically enough, it’s also a warning, a glaring beacon, the kind we need to avoid at all costs.
Let’s keep our wits about us and, although it may sound callous, thank the North Koreans for the unenviable role they’re playing on the world stage. Their enslaved existence is a haunting reminder of what to look out for. Let’s learn from their suffering. If we can’t help them break free, let’s at least help ourselves by not getting in a similar situation, rejecting those who promise greatness at our expense, and who would crush each and every one of us to get what they want, should we let them.
And so it goes. Kim Jong-il, supreme leader and great movie buff is dead. He was a staunch dictator with a flair for the insane. He ran a country with an iron fist, isolating it from the rest of the world, imprisoning millions of human beings inside it and making them unwitting participants in his sick fantasies. His megalomania once led him to kidnap a South Korean director and his wife for the purpose of making production movies for him, in which he was credited as executive producer. Most likely they were bad, unoriginal pieces of propaganda, for which the tyrant won’t receive an Oscar.
(But his legacy will. Kim Jong-il is most definitely worthy of a number of awards for putting together one of the most original productions on the world stage, and for creating one of the most villainous roles of all times. A truly evil, disgusting character of vile proportions and sinister plots.)
People of North Korea, I weep with you and for you. I see you mourn and cry for your “beloved leader”, sensing how genuine your emotions are, how you’re somebody’s father, mother, grandmother, kin, people like us, and that you feel stranded and lost in the wake of what’s happening around you. I realize it could have very well been us in your shoes, getting told how to think and behave. You’re not different – or damned, as some people think – just unfortunate. You were caught inside a deadly net, and were never released.
From the bottom of my heart, I wish you strength in enduring the nightmare that has been thrust upon you. One day you’ll be set free, and things will be all right again, for a while anyway.