News and Tribune


April 9, 2013

BEAM: Getting to know North Korea


Likewise, we also have to understand that these supposedy intimidating tirades are nothing new for North Korea. In the past, they’ve issued these statements for several reasons. Living in the country isn’t all caviar wishes and champagne dreams. On the PBS website, author Cat Wise revealed that 60 percent of N.K.’s population relies on government food rations. This aid only counts as a third of the World Health Organization’s minimum average energy requirement. Stunted growth results from this malnourishment, affecting more than 30 percent of N.K. children. Wise said on average, North Koreans are 6 inches shorter than South Koreans due to this nutritional deficit. 

Starvation can’t make for a stable government. Taking away their people’s freedom seems to help make up for this deficit. Amnesty International is one of the many organizations that condemn the country’s human rights record. No freedom of speech or movement, forced prison and concentration camps for dissidents and torture have all been documented by those who have managed to escape.

Diversion is a wonderful tool to quell the repressed and bring the people together as a nation. All the saber rattling also justifies their need for spending the few funds they do have on militarization. 

In addition, there’s an international benefit. The North Koreans have been playing this game long enough to know how to work the system. In the past, they’ve used their nuclear ambitions as leverage for greater concessions from other countries. Money and food, not to mention repression, are needed to maintain their authoritarianism over the people. While conditions are rough in N.K., the rest of the world just wants the government to pipe down. 

So what do we do? Nations and the UN pay them off for their supposed cooperation. 

But come on, one can only take so much. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like blackmail. And that’s exactly what North Korea is doing. However, if matters do escalate, I also don’t want Seoul turned into a giant radioactive hole. 

Education can only get us so far. Hard decisions remain even when we have the facts. Until the first shot is fired and we know their true intentions, maybe ignorance for most of us is bliss after all. 


— Amanda Beam is a Floyd County resident and Jeffersonville native. Contact her by email at

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