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Nothing to envy. Ordinary lives in North Korea.

( Demick, Barbara )

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11 Occasionally, door frames and window sashes are painted a startling turquoise, but mostly everything is whitewashed or gray.
In the futuristic dystopia imagined in 1984, George Orwell wrote of a world where the only color to be found was in the propaganda posters. Such is the case in North Korea. Images of Kim Il-sung are depicted in the vivid poster colors favored by the Socialist Realism style of painting.

15 Under Kim Jong-il’s direction, the Korean Feature Film Studio on the outskirts of Pyongyang was expanded to a 10-million-square-foot lot. It churned out forty movies per year. The films were mostly dramas with the same themes: The path to happiness was self-sacrifice and suppression of the individual for the good of the collective. socjalizm



21 Tae-woo attended elementary school and later middle school, through the age of fifteen, which was standard for the sons of farmers. The language of instruction was Japanese. Japan had annexed Korea in 1910 and deposed the last of the Korean emperors, after which it went about methodically stamping out Korean culture and superimposing its own. During the early years of the occupation, the older men in the village had been forced to cut off the long braid that Korean males traditionally wore bound in a topknot and covered with a black hat. They were made to take Japanese names. The Japanese levied heavy taxes, taking 50 percent or more of the rice harvest, claiming it was necessary to support the war they were waging in the Pacific. Young men and women were shipped off to Japan to contribute to the war effort, while girls were forced into prostitution, becoming what were euphemistically known as “comfort women” who sexually serviced the troops. The rice farmers loathed the Japanese. They couldn’t do anything without Japanese approval. okupacja

26 After the war, Kim Il-sung made it his first order of business to weed out foe from friend. He started at the top with potential rivals for the leadership. He disposed of many of his comrades in arms who had led the struggle from Manchuria to unseat the Japanese occupiers. He ordered the arrest of the founding members of the Communist Party in South Korea. They had been invaluable during the war; now that they’d served their purpose they could be discarded. Throughout the 1950s, many more were purged in what was increasingly coming to resemble an ancient Chinese empire with Kim Il-sung the unchallenged master of the realm. Cykl Rewolucji

30 Her eldest sister, Mi-hee, had a lovely soprano voice. Whether she was belting out one of the syrupy folk songs so beloved by Koreans or a paean to Kim Il-sung, the neighbors would come to listen. She was often asked to perform at public events. Singing is a highly valued talent in North Korea since few people have stereos. Mi-hee was so pretty that an artist came to sketch her portrait. She had every expectation that she would be selected to attend a performing arts high school. She wailed for days when she was rejected. Their mother must have known the reason, but she nevertheless marched to the school to demand an explanation. The headmaster was sympathetic, but unhelpful. She explained that only students with better songbun could secure placement in performing arts schools. !

36 Historically, Koreans have measured their success in life by their proximity to power - part of a long Asian tradition of striving to get off the farm and close to the imperial palace. władza

40 “Those who write in accordance with the party’s intention are heroes,” Kim Jong-il proclaimed. dziennikarze

43 In these sessions, members of her work unit - the department to which she was assigned - would stand up and reveal to the group anything they had done wrong. It was the Communist version of the Catholic confessional. socjalizm


45 Aż się prosi by z Korańczyków drwić. Uśmiech budzą ekscesy ich propagandy oraz naiwności ludzi. Ale pamiętajmy jednak, że ich indoktrynacja zaczęła się w niemowlęctwie, i ciągle trwa: w ciągu czternastu godzin spędzanych w zakładach opieki dziennej; że przez kolejne pięćdziesiąt lat każda piosenka, film, artykuł w gazecie i billboard miał na celu ubóstwianie Kim Il-sung'a; że kraj był hermetycznie zamknięty, aby powstrzymać wszystko, co mogłoby budzić wątpliwości co do boskości Kim Il-sung'a. Temu nikt się nie oprze.

North Korea invites parody. We laugh at the excesses of the propaganda and the gullibility of the people. But consider that their indoctrination began in infancy, during the fourteen-hour days spent in factory day-care centers; that for the subsequent fifty years, every song, film, newspaper article, and billboard was designed to deify Kim Il-sung; that the country was hermetically sealed to keep out anything that might cast doubt on Kim Il-sung’s divinity. Who could possibly resist?



45 To a certain extent, all dictatorships are alike. From Stalin’s Soviet Union to Mao’s China, from Ceauşescu’s Romania to Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, all these regimes had the same trappings: the statues looming over every town square, the portraits hung in every office, the wristwatches with the dictator’s face on the dial. tyrania

68 Jadąc po północno-koreańskich wsiach, można było wyraźnie dostrzec kontrast między prywatnymi ogrodami pełnymi warzyw, fasolek pnących się ku niebu, winorośli opadające gronami wielkości dyni, a państwowymi polami z ich karłowatą kukurydzą, posadzoną w krzywych rządkach przez tak zwanych ochotników w ramach wykonywania swoich patriotycznych obowiązków.

Driving through the North Korean countryside, you could clearly see the contrast between the private gardens bursting with vegetables, bean poles soaring skyward, vines drooping with pumpkins, next to the collective fields with their stunted, haphazard rows of corn that had been planted by so-called volunteers doing their patriotic duty.


72 Na czarnym rynku kilko ryżu kosztuje 25 wonów, a w państwowej hurtowni 10 jeonów (1/10 wona).

It cost 25 won to buy a kilo of rice that might cost less than one tenth of a won from the distribution center.


107 W przeważającej większości Koreańczycy z Północy są odporni na duży ból podczas leczenia. "Nie są tacy jak Koreańczycy z południa, którzy wrzeszczą i wydzierają się jak ich tylko zaboli", powiedział doktor Kim.

For the most part, North Koreans were stoical about enduring pain during medical treatment. “They weren’t like South Koreans, who scream and holler about the slightest little thing,” Dr. Kim said.


140 W OKRESACH GŁODU, ludzie niekoniecznie umierają z powodu braku pożywienia. Nierzadko inne choroby dopadają ich wcześniej. Przewlekłe niedożywienie utrudnia organizmowi zdolność do walki z infekcją, a niedożywieni stają się podatni na gruźlicę i tyfus. Głodzone ciało jest zbyt słabe, aby metabolizować antybiotyki, nawet jeśli są dostępne, a choroby, które zwykle są uleczalne nagle stają się śmiertelne. Niecodzienne wahania w zakresie procesów chemicznych zachodzących w organizmie mogą być przyczyną udarów i zawałów serca. Ludzie umierają również z powodu jedzenia pokarmów zastępczych, których ich organizm nie jest w stanie strawić. Głód może być podstępnym mordercą, którego działanie ujawniają dopiero statystyki zwiększonej śmiertelności wśród dzieci lub coraz krótszej długości życia.

Ten morderca ma również inne kierunki działania. Uderza przede wszystkim w najsłabszych – dzieci poniżej piątego roku życia. Zwykłe przeziębienie zamienia się w zapalenie płuc; biegunka w dyzenterię. Zanim rodzice pomyślą o pomocy, dziecko nie żyje. Kolejnym kierunkiem są starsi ludzie, zaczyna od siedemdziesięciolatków, a następnie ulegają mu sześćdziesięcio- i pięćdziesięciolatkowie. Każdy i tak prędzej czy później umiera, ale dlaczego tak szybko? Głód zabija również ludzi w sile wieku. Mężczyźni, ponieważ mają mniej tkanki tłuszczowej niż kobiety, zwykle umierają przed nimi. Silne i atletyczne osoby są szczególnie narażone, ponieważ ich metabolizm potrzebuje więcej kalorii.

IN A FAMINE, people don’t necessarily starve to death. Often some other ailment gets them first. Chronic malnutrition impairs the body’s ability to battle infection and the hungry become increasingly susceptible to tuberculosis and typhoid. The starved body is too weak to metabolize antibiotics, even if they are available, and normally curable illnesses suddenly become fatal. Wild fluctuations of body chemistry can trigger strokes and heart attacks. People die from eating substitute foods that their bodies can’t digest. Starvation can be a sneaky killer that disguises itself under bland statistics of increased child mortality or decreased life expectancy. It leaves behind only circumstantial evidence of “excess mortality” - statistics that show higher than normal deaths during a certain period.

The killer has a natural progression. It goes first for the most vulnerable - children under five. They come down with a cold and it turns into pneumonia; diarrhea turns into dysentery. Before the parents even think about getting help, the child is dead. Next the killer turns to the aged, starting with those over seventy, then working its way down the decades to people in their sixties and fifties. These people might have died anyway, but so soon? Then starvation makes its way through people in the prime of their lives. Men, because they have less body fat, usually perish before women. The strong and athletic are especially vulnerable because their metabolisms burn more calories.


141 Jest jeszcze innego rodzaju okrucieństwo: głód zabija porządnych ludzi, takich, którzy nigdy nie ukradną żywności, nie skłamią, nie oszukują, nie łamią prawa ani nie zdradzają najbliższych. To zjawisko po II wojnie światowej opisał włoski pisarz żydowskiego pochodzenia Primo Levi. Pisał, że ani on ani jego koledzy, którzy przeżyli obozy zagłady, nie chcieli spotykać się po wojnie, ponieważ wstydzili się tego co zrobili.

Yet another gratuitous cruelty : the killer [the famine] targets the most innocent, the people who would never steal food, lie, cheat, break the law, or betray a friend. It was a phenomenon that the Italian-Jewish writer Primo Levi identified after emerging from Auschwitz, when he wrote that he and his fellow survivors never wanted to see one another again after the war because they had all done something of which they were ashamed.

optymalizacja czerpania z zasobów

!! - super cytat



154 Prywatne działki były wypielęgnowane, warzywa posadzone w idealnych rzędach, fasola i dynie przywiązane do palików i kratek, podczas gdy kolektywne gospodarstwa były zapuszczone.

Attention was lavished on the private plots, the vegetables in rows as perfectly even as typewriter keys, the beans and squash tied to stakes and trellises, while the collective farms were slovenly with neglect.



154 Przestępstwem było przyjmowanie wynagrodzenia za jakąkolwiek usługę – czy to usługę seksualną czy naprawę roweru. Ale nikogo to już nie obchodziło. Wszyscy musieli oszukiwać, by przeżyć.

It was a crime to accept remuneration for any service – be it sex or bicycle repair. But who cared anymore? Everybody needed a scam to survive.



158 Teraz widziała, jak bogaci stają się bogatsi, a biedni coraz biedniejsi.

Now she saw the rich getting richer; the poor getting poorer.

Zapadka Św. Mateusza

176 "Każdy obywatel Republiki, który ucieka do innego kraju lub staje po stronie nieprzyjaciela, w tym starając się o azyl w ambasadzie zagranicznej ... (lub) pomagając firmom lub obywatelom wrogiego kraju, służąc im na przykład jako przewodnik turystyczny lub tłumacz albo udzielając im wsparcia moralnego lub materialnego ... podlega karze śmierci ".

“Any citizen of the Republic who flees to a foreign country or to the side of an enemy, including the seeking of asylum in a foreign embassy … (or) assists an agency or citizens of a hostile country, by serving as a travel guide or interpreter, or by providing moral or material support … shall be subject to the death penalty.”


180 Ostrzegał, że wprowadzenie prywatnego handlu i wolnego rynku spowodowałoby "Zagladę" Partii Robotniczej [...] czego dowodem są wcześniejsze tego typu przypadki w Polsce i Czechosłowacji ".

He warned that the rise of private markets and trading would cause the Workers’ Party to “collapse and dissolve … [as] illustrated by past incidents in Poland and Czechoslovakia.”


188 Nauczyciele – intelektualiści około pięćdziesiątki – odkryli, że nie dają sobie rady w życiu po tym, jak szkoła przestała im wypłacać pensję.

The teachers were all intellectuals in their fifties, who discovered they had no marketable skills after the school system stopped paying their salaries.



197 There was no Prague Spring or Tiananmen Square. The level of repression in North Korea was so great that no organized resistance could take root. Any antiregime activity would have terrible consequences for the protester, his immediate family, and all other known relatives. Under a system that sought to stamp out tainted blood for three generations, the punishment would extend to parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, cousins. A lot of people felt if you had one life to give, you would give it to get rid of this terrible regime, but then you’re not the only one getting punished. Your family would go through hell,” one defector told me. dyktatura


206 Otrzymała wykształcenie dzięki dobroczynności partii i zdradziła ojczyznę.

She received an education through the benevolence of the party and she betrayed the fatherland.


212 Był typowym niezręcznym intelektualistą, ważącym każdy ruch, aż w końcu okazywało się, że jest za późno.

He had been every inch the indecisive intellectual, weighing every move until it was too late.


215 Dla jednego studenta z Korei Północnej była to fotografia pochodząca z oficjalnych mediów, przedstawiająca Koreę Południową. Zdjęcie miało ilustrować wyzysk pracownika w społeczeństwie kapitalistycznym; student natomiast od razu zauważył, że "wyzyskiwany" pracownik nosił kurtkę z zamkiem błyskawicznym i miał długopis w kieszeni, a oba te przedmioty były przecież dobrem luksusowym w Korei Północnej.

For one North Korean student it was a photograph in the official media showing a South Korean on a picket line. The photograph was meant to illustrate the exploitation of the worker in capitalist society; instead the student noticed that the “oppressed” worker wore a jacket with a zipper and had a ballpoint pen in his pocket, both of which were luxuries at the time.


248 A good deal of propaganda on both sides of the DMZ is devoted to how North and South Koreans are the same - han nara, one people, one nation - but after sixty years of separation the differences between the people are significant. South Korea is one of the world’s most technologically advanced countries. While most North Koreans are unaware of the existence of the Internet, South Korea has a higher percentage of homes on broadband than do the United States, Japan, and most of Europe. North Korea has been frozen culturally and economically for the last half century. Their languages are no longer the same; the South Korean version is now peppered with words borrowed from English. Physically, too, the people have grown apart. The average South Korean seventeen-year-old male, fed on milk shakes and hamburgers, is five inches taller than his North Korean counterpart. North Koreans talk and eat like South Koreans did in the 1960s. specjacja



256 Z całej duszy nienawidził reżimu Korei Północnej, jednak bronił go, gdy Południowi Koreańczycy go krytykowali.

Even though he hated the North Korean regime, he found he’d get defensive when South Koreans criticized it.


264 His legs were underdeveloped and his head too large for his body - a physique typical of people who have been deprived of food during their formative years. When denied nutrition, the body directs its resources toward the head and torso at the expense of the limbs. In famine literature, the syndrome is called “stunting.” A 2003 study by the World Food Programme and UNICEF found that 42 percent of North Korean children were permanently damaged in this way. bilans resergii

285 Over the past few years, the Workers' Party has issued a succession of ridiculous rules with no apparent purpose other than to squeeze the natural workings of the market economy. They have banned all vendors except for women aged forty and over; all the men and younger women are supposed to be reporting to their jobs in state-owned factories, no matter that the factories can't pay wages. There are increasing restrictions on what can be bought and sold. Special police roam the markets and confiscate all the now-illegal products. Along with rice and corn, soybeans have been banned from the market with the absurd explanation that they might be taken into China and resold to the enemy in South Korea. The party has issued prohibitions against Chinese toiletries (claiming they cause blisters) and Chinese snack foods (claiming they cause stomach ailments). The more fashionable clothing brought in from China has been banned on the grounds that it is too flashy and antisocialist.

If there is no plausible excuse, the party has said simply that people shouldn't buy products "made in China" because they need to support their own North Korean goods. "We're supposed to be buying North Korean products instead of Chinese. But North Korea doesn't make anything - it all comes from China - so there is nothing to buy," said a frustrated North Korean businessman I interviewed in China in 2009. "Our general wants to bring back socialism the way it used to be."


wolny rynek

287 Until recently, people were managing to outwit the police, keeping whatever was banned under the table, or moving their wares before an inspection. But that changed in late 2009, when the Workers' Party pulled out its heavy artillery. On November 30, the party announced that it would invalidate all of the currency in circulation and issue new bills. The ostensible reason was to prevent inflation by knocking off two zeroes from the won, which was trading at the time at 3,500 to the U.S. dollar, in order to "strengthen the national currency and stabilize the circulation of money," an official of the Workers' Party explained. In fact it was a trick. The North Korean regime wanted to confiscate the cash that had been accumulated by people working in the market. The rules limited people to trading no more than 100,000 won for the new currency, which meant that nobody would have more than about $30 to their name.

The North Korean regime had pulled this same currency stunt five times before, most recently in 1992, but this time people who'd been working at the markets had accumulated some savings, so what existed of a nascent middle class was wiped out overnight.

"I don't know how to explain it. It was as though your head would burst. In one day all your money was lost. People were taken to the hospital in shock," a seventeen-year-old girl from Musan told me in March, when I was on the Chinese side of the border interviewing those recently arrived from North Korea. The girl had come out three weeks earlier.



288 People were told they would be able to buy whatever they needed at very reduced prices from the state-run stores; supposedly rice that had previously cost 2,500 won would be available with the new currency for 25 won. But the government stores had no rice, corn, flour, or cooking oil to sell. socjalizm