Japan from the inside out

Photos from North Korea

Posted by ampontan on Thursday, April 23, 2009

DOCUMENTARY PHOTOGRAPHER Tomas Van Houtryve posed as a businessman interested in opening a chocolate factory in North Korea to tour the country and take clandestine photos. Foreign Policy magazine publishes nine of them here.

The photographer said that he saw no one smile during his entire visit. One picture is of a major street in Pyeongyang on which he saw no traffic at all for a 10-minute stretch one midweek day.

Read the text that accompanies the spooky photos, and then ask yourself again why this country needs ballistic missiles, why it would need (or pretend to need) a space program, and why some countries and political parties in Japan feel compelled to deflect criticism from them.

4 Responses to “Photos from North Korea”

  1. akagenoan said

    My goodness, it’s so heartbreaking to see people living in such horrible conditions. I hope something happens to change such an unacceptable way of life soon

  2. mac said

    If anyone wants to choke, they should make the effort to watch some of the ‘smuggled out at the risk of losing one’s life’ videos of street children and orphans in North Korea, there is one at;

    Of course, life must have been pretty much the same for all the orphans in Japan (zanryū koji) after WWII.

    There are also reported to be 1,000s of Korean kids in China, not just orphans but the children of North Korean women who were forced to marry Chinese men, or have sold themselve into marriage and prostitution.

    As defectors, they do not have legal status in China and, if caught, they are forcibly repatriated to North Korea. In many cases, their children are left behind and or dumped by the family.

    As many as 300,000 North Koreans are believed to live in hiding in China, where they frequently suffer abuse and exploitation … but still consider it worthwhile by way of escaping Korea. Its also the main route for human trafficking of Korean females to provide sexual labour in both Japan and the West.

    Folks also probably dont know that there are 1,000s of Koreans in Eastern Europe, e.g. Bulagaria etc, as well. They were taken there as orphans of the Korean War. In most cases, they are either happy to, or even demanded to, remain there because society was so much better than in Korea.

    So, if you are an American who father served out there, you may well have a half-Korean Romanian national relative still alive and well in Europe. In one such documented case, a half-black/half-Korea child of a Yanqui prostitute – rejected by Koreans – ended up in France. But Cold War and onwards, South Korea was actually the number one “exporter” and the U.S. the largest “importer” of adopted children in the world.

    Although we can point a finger at North Korea today, given the thousands of homeless children wandering Japan’s burnt-out cities after 1945 (all of whom were blameless for WWII), the Allied Occupiers (in particular SCAP and GHQ), aggressively censored all Japanese public media and literature from 1945 to 1948 and on 1952 removing discussion and documentation of the problem … just as North Korea is doing today.

    Consequently, we know little of the West’s own shame in such matters. It has, however, shaped Japanese society even to this day in the way it treats child crime.

  3. Bender said

    Consequently, we know little of the West’s own shame in such matters. It has, however, shaped Japanese society even to this day in the way it treats child crime.

    That’s kind of stretching it. When did wandering children become criminals? The fact that they wander in the streets does not make them criminals.

    Besides, you can’t compare the media back in the 1940s with the one we have now. And I’m sure everyone in Japan were well aware of those wandering children back then. So are North Koreans now, and it’s about whether the outside world should know. I’m not sure of the merits of it.

  4. mac said

    I meant with regards the leniency shown by the law to child offenders that equally surprises the West.

    Perhaps there are other factors I am unaware of but, in my opinion, laws and attitudes were shaped back in the Post-War Period where exceptional allowances had to be made for the large number of street children and orphans.

    The news and media was heavily censored. I am not sure of the actual figures involved. It was not only limited to big cities like Tokyo.

    Due to the lack of available information, the general depth of Anti-Japan/Japanese sentiments based largely on propaganda, perhaps even the unwillingness of people themselves to talk about their experiences, its not something this is heard about or discussed in the West.

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