Titanic Musings

Titanic_posterTitanic Film Helps Kid Realize North Korea Is Not A Good Place To Live
When Park Yeon-mi was nine years old, a friend’s mother was executed in public for lending a South Korean movie to a friend. North Korea enforces strict rules about viewing foreign media on its soil. Bollywood and Russian movies got you jail while American and South Korean movies got you killed. Despite crackdowns, Park says there is large interest in foreign movies and music. And it opens people’s eyes to a lot of things. In her case, reports The Guardian, James Cameron’s Titanic gave her a window on the outside world.

No one is terribly surprised to learn how rigid North Korea controls its media. No dissent is allowed, no questions of policy. They do not want people to become envious of what other countries have but a large black market for foreign films and music challenges that authority. Park says that everything in the media is about the leader from books to television to films. Pirated movies smuggled through China were not cheap and as expensive as a large bag of rice. So people developed a system of swapping. A friend might have a copy of Snow White and she had James Bond, they would swap. She loves romantic movies and apparently love stories are banned.

Cameron’s Titanic showed a guy giving his life for his gal, something unheard of in North Korea. She wondered why love stories were banned. Why did the regime try to prevent expressions of love? What also shocked her was that though the story takes place in 1912, the level of development is higher than North Korea.

“The other shocking thing about that movie was that it was set 100 years ago, and I realised that our country is in the 21st century and we still haven’t reached that level of development,” she said.

That is a pretty telling statement about what is going on inside the very secretive North Korea. Despite claiming itself to be a modern form of Marxism, it really is a stagnated country that has grown very little except in the government and military sectors. So many today are turning to pirated media to find out what is outside. And she believes the pirated media has changed her generation and quietly North Korea forever. Foreign media exposes them to other ideas and concepts making them wonder why they do not have them there. And it also is resulting in many seeing the benefits of capitalism.

Park says she believes young North Koreans can, and will, bring real change to their country. She says she hopes to one day return to a reformed North Korea, where people will enjoy wealth, freedom and love. “All the foreign movies we saw about love affected me and my generation,” she said. “Now we no longer want to die for the regime, we want to die for love.”

And that is exactly why the Old Guard bans such media and knows once people become aware of what they can become, their days are numbered.

Source: ‘Watching Titanic Made Me Realise Something Was Wrong In My Country,’ says North Korean Defector(26 Aug 2014,The Guardian)