A writer feature in the UK Guardian asks the question: “Why do North Korean defector testimonies so often fall apart?” Its author Jiyoung Song notes that the inconsistencies behind the defector testimonies from the DPRK are most likely due to the fact they’re purchased for cash. According to Song, “[a] government official from the South Korean ministry of unification told [him] the range of fees could vary wildly, from $50-500 per hour, depending on the quality of information.” This is something that those of us in the pro-DPRK community have been saying for decades. We were called liars, excuse makers, and even much worse things.
The article not only admits that the testimonies are purchased (practically) à la carte, but that the story tellers, “are well aware of what the interviewer wants to hear.” Many high profile so-called defectors have been exposed as frauds, and have admitted to fabricating much of their stories. Shin Dong-hyuk, Kwon Hyuk, and Lee Soon-ok are prime examples of the lies that have been purchased almost wholesale. I myself have pointed these falsehoods out on a number of occasions before the mainstream media admitted they exist. Those of us in the pro-DPRK community have been saying for sometime that these stories were false and that defectors were being paid to give false testimony.
What is truly frightening about this blatant dishonesty by defectors, anti-DPRK media such as NKNews, human rights organizations, and imperialist governments – is the fact that these stories are being used as justifications for hostile foreign policy. Lee Soon-ok outright lied to the US House of Representatives when she claimed that Christians were being tortured with hot liquid iron. She says she witnessed this when she herself was a “political prisoner”. Chang In-suk, who was the head of the North Korean Defectors’ Association in Seoul at the time, said he knew she’d never been a political prisoner. This testimony was used to justify hostile foreign policy towards the DPRK. Using lies to support global oppression is nothing new. Both the Iraq and Afghan Wars were perpetuated using false information. This woman knowingly lied to the US House of Representatives, on the record, which I believe is a federal crime. One I’m sure will never see a courtroom.
What is significant is the fact that the anti-DPRK community is starting to admit these claims are false. Unfortunately they won’t be honest and admit that they’ve outright lied. In doing so, they’d have to admit their own complicity in fabricating and promoting falsehoods about the DPRK. Almost every month now we have an accusation of some official or another being executed only to have them turn up on DPRK television a month or so later.
There has been a shift in story telling as of late. The truly horrific fictions of past decades are beginning to disappear. They’ve being replaced with stories of hardship and accusations of totalitarianism. At first I assumed that the authors of such ill repute were beginning to realize their lies were falling apart. However, I’ve come to notice this softening of stories has a purpose. As the DPRK further liberalizes their economy down a capitalist path, the easier the stories on them are. In my experience, the more they lie about you the more you’re challenging their power and narrative. I see this as a bad sign. The anti-DPRK media isn’t admitting they’ve been lying for decades; they’re just going softer on the accusations. I’d consider it a victory for the DPRK if they did admit they’ve been lying, but that’s not the case here.
My concern is that the liberalization of the economy is what the imperialists want. I believe wholeheartedly that the DPRK is going the way of Cuba. It’s going from a solid system of economic self-defense, to accepting foreign capital into the country to gain a foothold. Already the DPRK is allowing ex-soldiers to purchase farm land privately and even hire labour to be employed on it. This is the very antithesis of socialism. The DPRK has noticeably been carrying out an emphasis on superfluous consumer commodities. This too is the very antithesis of socialism. Often one of the criticisms of socialism is that state planning is insufficient to handle hundreds of thousands of non-essential consumer goods, in other words a consumer based society. It’s true, it can’t handle it – because it’s not supposed too. The objective of socialism, (and the corresponding economic planning of the economy,) as the transitory period between capitalism and communism is to move away from a consumer society, away from bourgeois materialism. This is a bad sign for the DPRK and its claim to be socialist country.
This concerns me as a defender of the DPRK and supporter of socialism. I don’t think we’re very far from seeing the DPRK become another U.S. neo-colony. I hope I’m wrong.