Enduring hunger became part of one's patriotic duty. Posters went up in the capital, Pyongyang, touting a new slogan, "Let's Eat Two Meals a Day." The North Korean government offered a variety of explanations. People were told that the government was stockpiling food to feed the starving South Korean masses on the blessed day of reunification, or that the United States had instituted a blockade against North Korea. North Korean television ran a documentary about a man whose stomach burst, it was claimed, from eating too much rice....The foreign press began reporting on North Korean's food shortages in the early nineteen-nineties, and in 1992 the country's news service issued an indignant reply: "All people live a happy life without worries about food in our land. The state supplies the people with food at a cheap price next to nothing so that people do not know how much rice costs. This is the reality of the northern half of Korea."
--Barbara Demick, The Good Cook

The reality of North Korea was that 10% of the population was dying of starvation. This article reminded me of the class I took on the USSR in which I learned how frighteningly easy it is to exercise control over a population. Constructions of reality, ya know?

No comments: