Education fights outside influences

From the LA Times:

More than 100 pages of written lectures smuggled out of North Korea this year reveal that the leadership is in a state of near-hysteria about outside influences seeping across the nation’s once hermetically sealed borders. The spread of “unusual lifestyles,” the lectures warn listeners, could render them “incapable of following revolutionary thoughts and sacrificing their lives” for Kim.

The documents also underscore the extent to which anti-Americanism gives meaning to the country and its people. More than 50 years after the end of the Korean War, the United States is blamed for all of North Korea’s woes, from food shortages to the infiltration of foreign culture.

In the last several years, trade between North Korea and China has surged, much of it not approved by North Korea’s leaders. Along with food and consumer goods, traders smuggle in DVDs, tapes, books and Bibles, radios and mobile phones. Once considered taboo, T-shirts with English lettering are pouring into North Korean markets from Chinese garment factories.

The regime fears not only critical material but depictions of other nations that would make North Koreans realize how poor they are in comparison.

“The enemies use these videos and specially made materials to beautify the world of imperialism … and to [spread] a fantasy of the free world,” one lecture says. North Koreans are urged to steel themselves against such corrupting influences by eating traditional foods, wearing traditional clothing and keeping their hair tidy.


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