Monday, August 23, 2010
Thinking about North Korea
North Korea (or DPRK) has one of the worst human rights records in the world, whilst it is impossible to leave the country or access information (legally) from the countries outside its parameters. Further to this, the North Koreans have suffered from famine for more than ten years because of their difficult terrain and because the Communist government refuses to distribute rice and grain effectively to its people. In the past, North Korea has been somewhat overlooked by the British press although recently alleged nuclear threats seem to have put DPRK on our newsroom radar. We have all (rightly) heard about children in Ethopia suffering from kwashiorkor (swollen belly) but not those who live in the small country north of the prosperous South Korea. If you read papers in the USA and Australia, there are more reports on the tragedies of DPRK, as well as more NGOs and charities who raise money and awareness for the nation. I think this is partly due to geographical location - Australia and America are nearer or bordering on to the Asia Pacific rim (definitions vary). It may also be because of our post colonial histories. The British Empire occupied several African countries, taking valuable minerals before decolonising, so now feels a responsibility to offer some relief / aid. The USA intervened heavily in the Korean war and its consequential South Korean military government and surrounding cold war hysteria. Arguably, the USA contributed to the country's division and North Korea's subsequent hardships and alienation. Britain have had little to do with Korea historically other than sending some troops out to help in the Korean war.
Amnesty International is one of the global organisations which reports on the issues taking place in North Korea. For example, the recent article on the Crumbling Health System in North Korea. There are also a number of Christian, refugee and other charities, often located in the USA.http://www.helpinghandskorea.org/ and see charities and NGOS re North Korea
One of the projects on which I'm currently working concerns the pursuit of North Korean refugee artists or people who are making art about their experiences. It is difficult to locate refugees as they are often in hiding and live anonymous existences for fear that they will be found out and that their families back home will face execution or concentration camps. As well as the horrific side of everyday life in DPRK, our project also wants to document the more mundane experiences of every day life - without the sensationalism (e.g. the documentaries recently shown on BBC2 & 3 or Kim Jong Il's portrayal in Team America!)
If anyone has any knowledge of North Korea or if you are a North Korean yourself who wishes to remain anonymous and you would like to take part in a project, please contact me. As it is early days I don't want to display publically the current rationale behind the project. I just need to hear a few voices on the subject. And they need to be heard.
There were several reasons why I stopped a scanner daily. There was a rationale behind its end, it wasn't just that I couldn't be bothered to open the lid of my scanner every day. Here it is:
1) In the same week I was asked to co-curate an exhibion, write a piece for another exhibition and put in an application for research funding with my ex PhD-supervisor. I suddenly had some purpose to my present and future everday life. And something to put my energies into which a range of other people may notice (rather than just my 3 loyal blog readers).
2) I wanted to begin seriously re-drafting my novel.
3) I showed my blog at Madlab's Interesting Mondays because they were short of speakers and I wanted feedback. It was interpreted as a 365 project - of which there are thousands online. It made a scanner daily seem mundane.
4) I felt like I was spending too much time blogging to myself, rather than communicating my ideas more productively and healthily.
5) I was sick of opening the lid of the scanner every day and waiting for the information to travel from it to my senile laptop.
I changed the look of my blog but I think it is for the worse so I made it private for a while. Now I'm not sure what to do. Any ideas re the design and title of the blog?
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