Monday, February 19, 2007

North Korea.

A friend asked me to comment on this - I have to mention that because if you don't know me [personally] it might seem a strange topic to you. Part of the reason [I suppose] is the fact that I have family who live in South Korea. In fact, I have far more extended family members who are in S. Korea than I do in the U.S.

First off, a primer. There are actually two Korean states [when I say state, I mean self governed entities]. They are North Korea [officially the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea - DPRK] and South Korea [Republic of Korea]. Don't let the names fool you, however - North Korea is governed by Kim Jong Il, is a communist state, and has an awful human rights track record. The Korean War [of which General George Casey Patton derived fame] began in 1950 and ended in 1953. I had a great uncle who actually fought in that war - he said that they would set machine guns on the back of jeeps and eventually bodies would be so high that their placed guns would become essentially worthless. During the Korean conflict, the Western world generally sided with South Korea, bringing forth a democratic political paradigm while China sided with North Korea bringing about a Stalinist mindset. In 1953 the war "ended" [the war, in fact, has never officially ended although there has been an ongoing ceasefire for the past half century] with the two sides coming together and splitting the Korean Peninsula at the 38th Parallel [known as the DMZ, or Demilitarized Zone].

South Korea has met some hard times [with corruption in the government and what not], but is currently flourishing with the worlds 13th largest economy [depending on your source, it's actually somewhere between 11 and 14]. Most people aren't itching to travel in to North Korea, however [ranked 92 on world economies on the CIA's World Factbook]. A recent article written by a South Korean author states that an estimated 10,000 will find some way to leave North Korea to live in South Korea this year and that the number should double in 5 years. Take a look the difference between N Korea and S Korea at googlemaps and you'll notice something interesting as well - most of North Korea's Streets are empty while South Korea's streets are full of activity. It's fairly well known that large buildings and streets were made in North Korea to intimate a sense of grandeur and opulence to both those who reside in the nation and outsiders.

I put this information out to communicate that the two Korea's are together geographically, but so different politically, socially, and economically [and also, because I've had people ask me with some regularity whether I visited North Korea or South Korea in September - most people don't visit North Korea].

When most of think of North Korea, they think of its dictator rather than the people who live there. One of the unfortunate effects of the Korean War was the fact that families were separated for half a century [recently, some families have been allowed to reunite at the DMZ]. In essence, you have two countries on a small peninsula in Asia whose lives have been defined by which side of the 38th parallel in which they reside - whose cultures are so disparate and yet still so familial.

If you believe the gospel, I would think [and I may be putting a very large foot in a very large mouth here] that you should never think that an entire nation should be punished because of the evil of one man [ economic sanctions]. If you synthesize the situation with a right mind you might well say that the people who are there are living in utter fear for their mortal lives. I think where Americans so often fail in foreign policy is the fact that so much of what guides us is an innate and ungodly fear. If you don't believe the gospel, then I think it's right to leave in that assumed fear, but as believers we have to trust that Jesus has something better for a people whose lives are lived under the hand and rule of oppressive dictators.

I'm tired now - it's 11PM here - but I'll try to add another installment soon. Feel free to comment on the post...

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Vote today!

Click here to vote on my hair
On February 10, 2007, Gene will have a
This special event is in anticipation of
Clicking the picture of the dapper young man above is
On this first ever occasion, Mr. Twilley has given you
see for more details. or