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.

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Research Connection

The visual contains symbolism meant to represent multiple key aspects of the life of a North Korean citizen. The black area is meant to represent the North Korean’s lack of knowledge of the outside world. The key is knowledge, and the chain represents the North Korean’s inability to seek knowledge. The North Korean is not allowed to leave and venture out into the world. The only information that a North Korean citizen has on the outside world is from the state. (Miller 32). “The people we spoke to asked us if it was true that living in Beijing is hard. They think living in North Korea is the happiest thing in the world. (Hooper)” The presence of concentration camps in North Korea proves that life with the threat of “permanent internment” (Harden) is not the happiest thing in the world, so a misinformation was involved. A misinformation throughout the state of 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

Research Connection

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 enclosed

To the light of day?

Research Connection

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)

Hyeonseo Lee: My escape from North Korea

Works Cited

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