Korea: Subversive Satellite Dishes

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September 26, 2007: Having promised to dismantle its nuclear weapons program, in return for massive financial and food aid, North Korea was apparently in the process of secretly selling off some of their nuclear weapons knowledge and bomb material to Syria. A September 6 Israeli raid into Syria recovered evidence of North Korean nuclear material at a research center. This week, a group of Syrian officials flew to North Korea for urgent meetings. North Korea condemned the Israeli raid, and denied any nuclear weapons deals with Syria. North Korea has been supplying Syria with weapons for over two decades. This nuclear issue will be raised during upcoming negotiations. North Korea is expected to dismantle its nuclear weapons program by the end of the year, and account for all its nuclear material.

North Korea faces another hungry Winter. Recent storms wiped out homes or food supplies for another several hundred thousand people. About 20 percent of the population will be dependent on foreign food aid to get it through the next six months. Despite the arrival of foreign food in the last month, there is still food rationing in many parts of rural North Korea.

There's a growing generation gap up north. The younger North Koreans know about the outside world, which is dangerous knowledge. The older generations were raised on the lie that North Korea was the workers paradise, and the rest of the world sucked. A decade ago, the growing number of people who had visited China, Japan and South Korea reported otherwise. Illegal radios and cell phones brought in more. Now, very small Chinese satellite dishes, put outside at night allow North Koreans to watch South Korean television. Getting caught doing this can result in jail time, but the shortage of entertainment up north drives people to take risks. South Korean soap operas are the most popular, and most subversive, programming. The news reports are viewed with awe, and suspicion. People have to be careful what they say to friends, family and neighbors. Government informers are everywhere, and get bonuses for turning in consumers of illegal media. The satellite dishes are confiscated, but not destroyed. North Korea is too poor to indulge in such waste. Secret policemen need some entertainment as well.

 

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