Injustice via Tyranny: Secret State of North Korea, PBS Frontline Special

by Letters 4 the Damned

Dear Fellow Mankind,

What is it that can drive a man to risk his life to expose injustice? Is it love, anger, hate? I think it’s all of these things and more. PBS recently released a documentary with undercover footage taken in the country of North Korea. North Korea is unarguably the most oppressive nation on earth. Barbwire blocks access to rivers and other areas while department stores are stocked with goods not available for sale. They are for display only. The state TV channel is the only channel in the country and consistently runs messages of praise to North Korea’s leader and messages warning of imminent attack by the United States. In short, North Korea is the nightmares of George Orwell come to life. North Korea is 1984. Rebelling against this system of emotional and physical control in the slightest way can get you sent to a political prison. In fact, it is estimated that one out of every 100 North Korean citizens is a political prisoner. Often their families are put in prison along with them. This is typically done to the minimum of three generations. These family members are charged with “guilty by association.” Amnesty International has analyzed the prison camps where these people are kept. One camp was measured by aerial satellite to be three times the size of Washington DC, they have only continued to grow since Kim Jong-un rose to power. His ruthless tyranny has led him to kill off half of his top generals including his own uncle for backing reform. Although most continue to suffer, some citizens successfully defect from the country. This usually occurs after receiving knowledge of the world outside North Korea. It is approximated that half of the defectors from the country had seen foreign television, listened to foreign radio, or seen foreign movies via smuggled DVD’s. It is through this media that the central core of power in the country has been slowly breaking down. People are beginning to reject the Korean government. Their rebellion is influenced both by the young leader who they feel is too inexperienced and the continued influx of knowledge from our globally integrated world. The once common assumption of a brainwashed population is not so common anymore. Though political rebellion still does not occur for the most part, citizens are challenging the laws that do not relate specifically to politics. While undercover footage shows a woman aggressively arguing with an official over the law that women cannot wear pants, subversive discussions take place among close friends and family, and it appears the seed for change is being planted. It is many individuals’ hopes, both inside and outside the country, that this oppressive regime will be overthrown and it is good to know that our hope is beginning to be supported by the citizen’s action. Knowledge truly is power and there is not a more fitting example of this than North Korea. One thing is for certain, their actions will not be in vein or at least we hope.


Photo of Kim Jong-un and his top generals taken after being announced as the new “supreme leader.” Kim Jong-un later killed approximately half of these generals including his own Uncle.


Documentary Link:


James, J. (Writer, Producer, Director). (2014) Secret State of North Korea [Documentary] United States of America: PBS