Within the Hermit Kingdom
Do you know the feeling of having to send your daughter into a foreign country to escape public execution? Do you know what tree bark and grass soup tastes like? Do you know someone who has been sent to a permanent internment camp? Being a citizen of a first world country, you thankfully do not. But citizens of North Korea do, and much more every day. People born into a first world country are privileged to never have to experience these terrible things, but through this Multi-Genre Project, you may catch a glimpse of the life of a person living inside North Korea.
Literary Element: Confiscated Journal, Chagang-do Province, North Korea
Confiscated Journal, Chagang-do Province, North Korea
Today, our village ran out of food. All is gone. Our crops have died and our livestock have been consumed. The government rations are infested with maggots and inedible. We have no cars. There is nowhere we can seek help. My wife is frightened for our future. I do not know what we are going to do.
The smugglers came again today. They brought with them water, rice, and little other food. They say they cannot bring anything else because of the fear of being caught. They also brought one western film, made in the United States. I have mixed feelings about this being too close to my daughter. Maybe she can watch it when she matures.
Two people from a neighboring village arrived today. I thought they were going to be our saviours, but instead they are in the same predicament as we are. But they did bring with them ways to collect food; making soup out of grass and tree bark. I was slightly tentative to this idea, but accepted it as our only food source.
My wife and I have decided it: We are going to smuggle our only daughter into china. Next time the smugglers visit our village I will pay any cost to have them bring my daughter with them. This is her only chance to live a life out of poverty.
Someone in the village knew of our plans. Guards are at our house right now as I write this. There is not enough time to
The essay, ‘Confiscated Journal, Chagang-do Province, North Korea,’ is a fictitious journal from a father of a family in a city on the border of North Korea and China. The journal explains the thoughts, tribulations, and life changing decisions some North Koreans have to make through the eyes of a North Korean. As food begins to run low in his village because of the famine (Hyeonseo) , the people attempt to rely on government rations for sustenance. However, “The government rations are infested with maggots and inedible. (Smith)” This information is also from the interview with Hyeonseo. “Smugglers (Smith)” within North Korea are not rare at all according to Hyeonseo, along with human trafficking, making soup out of grass and tree bark, and being killed publicly for plotting escape. (Hyeonseo)
Poem: The Crimson Banner
The rhythmic soldiers keeping pace
Matching uniforms and matching faces
Flying the flag of pride and nobility
The pillars of the earth, the Great Leader’s Guard.
As long as the crimson banner flies,
the blood blends in without a trace.
Images flash across their vision
of a world bound in walls
Is this crimson banner waving,
Or is it the confined who falls?
Pressure rises, the whole earth shakes
The ground is untrustworthy
The crimson banner raises up
Above the walls enclosing
What holds this banner up so high,
so bright in its malevolence?
Its shadow casts a darkness that
no one can see occurring
There are the ones who see the flag
As a laughable sight indeed
But others take note of the shadow
Encroaching with gaining speed
Fabric woven out of pain and suffering
Stitched with crippling control
As holes rip through its patchwork
A despicable sight is revealed beneath
Will the shadow reach far and block out the light,
Or will the banner tear off
Revealing the enclosedTo the light of day?
This poem on the effects of North Korean rhetoric explores the many reactions evoked in first world country citizens from the threats, allegations, and tyranny of North Korea. “Images flash across their vision-of a world bound in walls-Is this crimson banner waving,-Or is it the confined who falls? (Smith)” Average citizens of first world countries see news reports on North Korea. They see the crimes against humanity committed by its government, military actions, and the surprising lack of information about the outside world within the ‘hermit kingdom.’ One such news story detailing North Korea available to the public is this article by Andrew Jacobs (Jacobs). Opinions on North Korea can now be found because of the recent media atention, as fifteen out of sixteen people within Ms. Caussey’s english class agree that the world policies of North Korea are not similar to our own. (Caussey)
Ms. Caussey's English Class. Personal interview. 24 May 2013.
Lee, Hyeonseo Lee. "My escape from North Korea." Talks. TED, n.d. Web. 27 May 2013. <http://www.ted.com/talks/hyeonseo_lee_my_escape_from_north_korea.html>.
Harden, Blaine. Escape from Camp 14: one man's remarkable odyssey from North Korea to freedom in the West. New York: Viking, 2012. Print.
Hooper, James. "Life Inside North Korea." Sky News World. Sky News, n.d. Web. 20 May 2013. <http://news.sky.com/story/1075931/ignorance-and-minders-life-inside-north-korea>.
Miller, Debra A.. North Korea. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2004. Print.
Jacobs, Andrew. "North Korea News." World. The New York Times, n.d. Web. 29 May