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What North Korean Floods? August 19, 2006

Posted by earthlingconcerned in north korea.

In the imaginary world of journalism, you strike up a conversation with yourself in attempt to find the story that should be read or the images that should be seen. It seems world news is currently firing at all cylinders with the ongoing middle-east conflicts, the AIDS conference, some war in Iraq and most importantly, everything that has come to light in the JonBenét Ramsey case. The front page is full and the hour of television has more than enough to keep its audience intrigued for another day. Sensationalism is nothing new to the world we live in. If a story sticks out, if it brings out that something extra to keep the audience interested, it must be good. It must be important. Sometime that isn’t the case.

About a month ago, shortly after Kim Jong-il launched his weapons of sass destruction, a flood hit his closed society and much of the remaining world chose to quietly ignore it. The high estimate of 57,000 casualties and 2.5 million left homeless was reported by the privately funded Seoul-based (South Korea) aid agency Good Friends. North Korea has since allowed foreign-aid within their borders for the first time since the end of 2005 when it closed all its doors to the outside world. South Korea has agreed to send more that $72 million in aid and the World Food Programme has agreed to supply 150 metric tons of food. In a country which rarely discusses bad news to the rest of us, a policy shift like this suggests that something has definitely gone wrong. Suddenly the silence of Kim Jong-il after his miss-firings makes sense. But the official report coming out of North Korea is that the floods took the lives of far fewer, thus the entire world should not be concerned. A reported 549 people were killed with another 295 more were reported as missing. Maybe all of this is true. But maybe the Korean Government mislead the world, maybe millions have become homeless and tens of thousands have died.

I’m not about to suggest one is more right than the other. In a truly closed society, and N. Korea has accomplished most of the prerequisites for such a state, it’ll always be difficult to find out the truth on matters like this. Chernobyl was kept under wraps as long as possible. The cries of the killing fields of Cambodia during Pol Pot’s regime were silenced and what the Chinese population suffered through during Mao’s Great Leap Forward was introduced to the open society’s of the world through history books, instead of the current events section of your paper. It isn’t hard to imagine that a country that’s lead by someone so obsessed with promoting a powerful self-image will make a natural catastrophe sound like a minor blip. But There is also the possibility that Good Friends is making everything up (other aid organizations have said their number is exaggerated). By not providing any credible sources, their credibility subsequently declines. So which of the two is it?

Just to make this clear, I consider 57,000 a lot of people. So why can’t I find more information on the event in progress. Google searches simply remind how many news agencies use the Associated Press as a way to report on something that can barely be sensationalized. They vast majority of the links go to the exact same story. It seems to me that a question of such a varying scale of importance deserves more attention, if only to find out the truth. Someone needs to be a catalyst to this and make it a news story. Seek out, report and discuss. Sadly, some events will always be read in the history books before they become a story in the more available media chains. It is for reasons related to this entry why I hesitate to write anything else on Stephen Colbert. I wouldn’t say suggest that my most popular article was my least favorite, I wrote it for a reason, but it most definitely wasn’t the most important. The world media as a microcosm on earthling concerned. If the floods in Korea remain insignificant until the truth comes out, why does it seem that no one is really searching for it? This is just something else I see.



1. Your Father - August 26, 2006

Good. Let the North Koreans Die In a pool (or flood) of their own stubborn hypocrisy.

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