Leadership, control, and how you are led and controlled
You can’t miss some of the North Korean government’s more blatant methods to control its population — the propaganda, unique versions of history, controlling the flow of people and information across its borders, and regulating trade, for example. Some you can’t see as a tourist but the press outside North Korea reports it, like the how they punish citizens and stratify society. Some you can only speculate on, like how leaders behave in person and communicate to their staff and the rest of the population.
When you see their obvious methods to influence the public methods here become suddenly obvious. We have more advertising than they have propaganda and the messages come from companies, not the government, but we receive consistent, powerful messages to buy, consume, throw away, agree, and so on.
How do our leaders lead and control us? How differently or similarly do our structures work? How differently do we see methods used here when viewed from elsewhere?
What is freedom?
People in North Korea receive little to no information that people have more freedom or material prosperity elsewhere. For that matter, I understand many, perhaps most, view their country as the best place on Earth to live. Many who leave are shocked to find how much more freedom and material prosperity others have, even just north of the border, in China, which has far less freedom and material prosperity than even the rest of China, let alone the U.S. or Europe.
If they thought they had nothing to envy, that they didn’t lack freedom, how objective or subjective is the concept of freedom?
Traveling for personal growth over seeing sites
North Korea has no white sandy beaches, snow-capped mountain vistas, thousand-year-old ruins, rain forests, etc, but most of us considered it one of or the best trip of our lives. Its isolation, being on the frontier, and so on teach you more about people and the world, and therefore about yourself, than any place I’ve visited.
Seeing yourself from others’ perspectives
I still don’t know how North Koreans viewed us. Could they tell we were American? Did they view us as imperialist aggressors or agents of our governments? Did they see us as potential liberators or sources of new information from the outside world?
They made the trip! On my own I would not have enjoyed or learned nearly as much. I expect anecdotes and stories about them will come out.
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