B1 Intermediate US 368 Folder Collection
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What's the biggest difference between North and South Korea?
Well for one, I say watch their news broadcast.
Take note on how they talk about their leaders:
"The Democratic People's Republic of Korea's
Dear leader and general Kim Jong Un...!"
As opposed to:
"So, this week, President Mun-Jae-In visited China... ."
Yeah that, I think they have this thing going on with conflict and something about a war
But nah, yeah.
It's time to learn Geography NOW!!
Hey Everybody, I'm your host Barbs.
We have reached our next set of twin countries.
The first was the Congos, the last ones will be the Sudans,
For now, we have reached the Koreas.
Now unless you have been living under a rock, I'm sure you may have heard something about
North Korea in the past decade as it has been in the news quite a bit.
As you know, I'm half Korean with roots in South Korea
and not only that, but I'm also American.
So basically, I'm the worst possible candidate in the eyes of an North Korean
to speak about their country. I will try to remain
as unbiased in neutral in my delivery addressing as much information
as objectively as possible, based of from pure data and fact.
So, Are you ready? Alright? Let's Begin!
'Political Geography'
Dude, I need to work on my Korean, I made an embarrassment.
North Korea is sometimes referred to as the 'Hermit Kingdom'.
So, there's always a sense of mystery when it comes to the inside.
Fortunately, we have satellites and Google Earth.
First of all, North Korea is located on the Korean Peninsula connected to China's
Liaoning and Jilin provinces,
Sandwiched between the Korea Bay, and this sea which be careful what you call it,
Koreans and Chinese prefer the name 'East Sea'.
Whereas the Japanese call it 'Sea of Japan'.
Keep in mind, there is also an incredibly short
17km long border with Russia
at the tripoint with China. Along the border with Russia
lies the Friendship Bridge, and only North Koreans and Russians are allowed to take it.
The transfer in Vladivostok, this means you could essentially
go all the way to Moscow, making it one of the longest train
itineraries in the world, at around 9 days upon arrival.
The same deal exist with China
in which there are 3 main border-crossing, the Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge,
the Ji'An Yalu River Railway and the New Yalu River Bridge.
Each of these bridges though are guarded and will only let in certain government
approved arrivals that have no set schedule.
The country is divided into 3 types of administrative divisions,
the 9 provinces. The 특별시 or special city of Rason
as well as the capital, Pyongyang which also acts in it's own entity.
Pyongyang only has the international airport, Pyongyang Sunan International Airport,
Whereas the second largest city, Hamhung
and the 3rd largest, Chongjin, both on the east coast
also have respectively the next largest domestic airports.
Now we reached the most controversial part, the border with South Korea.
Literally like their own brothers.
This 250km long border know as the
DMZ or Demilitarized Zone, also sometimes call the 38th Parallel.
This line was established by the Korea armistice agreement
to serve as a buffer zone between the two nations
giving more than a little half of the peninsula to North Korea
This means that essentially both countries claim
that they are the rightful owners of the entire Peninsula
Or at least their government ruling system should be the dominant ruling ideologies.
At Panmunjom lies the joint Security Area
Which acts as like the only connection between North and South Korea
with neutral conference rooms. It's actually kind of like a tourist spot
in which people are allowed to go in under the supervision of an military guard.
On top of that, it's estimated that the country has about 8000
to 15,000 hidden underground facilities, including
underground factories, underground airforce hangers that cut through mountains naval ports.
And artillery pieces in caves.
North Korea, as we will soon find out has quite a unique layout based heavily
of for politics. Here you will find symbolism and
imagery that relates to the government everywhere,
Even in a middle of an remote farm villages.
Every school and office building is required to have portraits of the late
Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung on their walls.
In Pyongyang, whether not driving, they usually take the amazingly
embellished underground metro-system,
which goes as far as 110 metres below the surface
Most foreigners that visit rarely get to see anything outside of Pyongyang.
If you score a deal with the government, you might be allowed to visit Chongjin,
or the beaches of Wonsan, or the industrial city of Hamhung.
Oh and keep in mind since 2015,
They have actually started using their own timezone, UTC + 8:30
which makes them 30 minutes behind South Korea and Japan. Why did they do that?
NK: "Uhh, because North Korea, that's why!"
Otherwise, this is the part where I usually mention interest of places and honestly out of my research,
almost all of them were located in Pyongyang. Such As:
Korean People's study house,
The Arch of Triumph,
Juche Tower, Chollima Statue,
The Victorius Fatherland War Museum,
Mangyongdae Funfair amusement park,
Kumsusan Memorial Palace,
Gyeonggijang's Stadium, the largest in the world,
The tallest building, Ryugyong Hotel,
The Ideals of the North Korean Worker's party Momument,
Otherwise, outside of Pyongyang in Myohyangsan,
You have the Friendship Exhibition Hall.
In general, North Korea is quite different from
Most places you will encounter, due to the regime honoring architecture and monuments.
Aside from all that, the landscape
has a few colorful sites to offer, which brings us to,
'Physical Geography'
Now, believe it or not, if you actually get to see the landscape
of rural North Korea, it will not disappoint you.
First of all,
North Korea is 80% mountainous
With the largest ranges being the Hamgyong and Nang-Lim mountain chains
Now, when the two Koreas slipt up, the North side got the most treasured natural Landmark, the highest peak on the entire Korean Peninsula, Mount Baekdu.
(well, part of it, China kinda got 3/4s of it) Mount Baekdu with its caldera lake,
known as 'Heaven Lake' is actually an active volcano
With the last eruption happening in 1903
and it is considered a sacred spot to all Koreans.
So west of Baekdu is the longest river that divides
the border with China, Amnok, or Yalu River
which empties into the Korea Bay.
Nonetheless, the Taedong River is probably the most important as it flows
directly through Pyongyang. About 70% of the country is forested
about 20% is arable for farming
which employs about 25% of the entire population.
Virtually every single crop field is under government jurisdiction
as farmers must hand over a portion or quarter of the produce to the state.
During the 90s widespread flooding
disasters caused famine which killed off hundreds of thousands of people,
and since then, North Korea has actually decided to quadruple
their potato production in many places replacing
rice since potatoes grow much faster and easier.
Speaking of which, I would argue if you really want a taste of deep, true non-commercialised
traditional Korean cusine, then the North Koreans
probably have it a little more locked down than South Korea. (I'm sorry South Korea but
it's kinda true I mean, come on, like where the hell was Cheese Ramen
a thing!) And even though admittedly they do taste kinda good
kimchi was never originally intended to be made into a burger paddy.
ANYWAY. A traditional Korean meal will usually consist of multiple Banchan,
which are small seasoned side dishes placed in small dishes and bowls alongside your main plate.
Typical dishes, I'm sure many of you have heard of,
like Bulgogi, Kalbi, Samgyeopsal, Buchimgae
Bibimbap, are made in resturaunts, sometimes in the homes of the elite.
However, most people in North Korea don't actually eat meat that much except on public holidays
or on special occasions due to the lack of access.
North Koreans are also known for having the
best version of my favourite food in the world, Neng myon; ice cold starchy buckwheat noodles,
typically served with a half boiled egg, thin slice of brisket, cucumber radishes top off with the right amount of vinegar and creamy spicy mustard.
If I could go to North Korea, JUST to try their Neng myon, I would. Watch: I'm at customs at the airport
and they're like "Purpose of visit?" "Neng myon." Yeah it's probably not going to happen.
YO DENNIS RODMAN! I need you to do me a favor! Almost all
Oil and petroleum is imported from China
from a pipeline orginating in Dandong along the border.
And I think that's a good transistion to start dicussing the people and how
and why they are the way they are.
Oh Yeah! Go ahead, please explain!
Pssh... Stupid Americans.
And THAT will be discussed too!
Now, let's be honest. When you hear 'North Korea'
Immediatley images of the Kim regime and Marching Soldiers and
Military Personnel, but for a couple minutes try as hard as
you can to to put that aside
and go deeper to a level that most people in the western world don't really tap into.
What is North Korea like outside of the news?
Well, first of all, the country has around 25 million people
and has the most active troops per capita at nearly
48 per 1000 people.
With the exception of a very small group of Chinese, Japanese and Westerners
that have residency status, the country is almost completely homogeneous
at 99.9% ethnically Korean.
That was the easiest pie chart I've ever made. In addition they also use the
North Korean Won as their currency (even though foreigners can't use it)
They use the type C plug outlet and they drive on the right side of the road.
Let's quickly talk about the few non-North Koreans that are
allowed to live in North Korea. The only real group of
Ethnic minorites that have inhabited the peninsula
prior to war times would be the Jaegaseung people.
decendants of Manchurians?? From China that
got married and settled in the Area.
Otherwise, modern Chinese people known as Hua Qiao have been able to establish residencies in North Korea.
However, since the 80s more have been
repatriated back to China.
Otherwise, a very small commuity of a couple hundred Indians, Japanese
and yes, even about 200 Americans live in North Korea.
Some of them are Prisoners of War, some are defectors
but most of these people are serving in humanitarian sectors
providing things like medical and educational aid. The country has virtually
no standardised immigration policy, other than: Will the supreme leader (Kim ill-sung is eternal president) allow you in?
Which is how these two people got in! Rememeber the Equatorial Guinea episode?
we talked about the dictator, Francisco Macias.
Well, he made a deal with Kim Il-Sung and sent his kids to North Korea shortly
before he was assassinated. Yeah his daughter, Monique,
was raised alongside the regime, personally meeting Kim multiple times.
She speaks fluent Korean and is alive today,
She wrote a book and does speaking towards.
Then you have this guy who goes by his Korean name, Chosun Il, he is the only Westerner to officially
work for the regime. It took him over 10 years to gain the confidence of the government.
He is head of the Korean Friendship association
and is North Korea's unoffical ambassador to the world.
What's even more interesting are the North Koreans living abroad.
Today, there's a community of North Koreans descended people in Japan known as the Zainichi Koreans.
They have their own pro-Pyongyang operating schools and teach lessons in
Korean. The strong pro-North Korea curriculum, in Japan.
Weird, Huh?
Also, there is estimated to be a little more that 20,000
defectors living in South Korea.
And there are quite a few living in the US as well,
REMEMBER That letter I got in Flag Friday?
In North Korea, they speak of course Korean, but a distinct "North Korean" dialect
which is actually more kind of like a proper traditional way of speaking.
Whereas the Korean spoken in South Korea utilises a plateral of loan words
from English and to some extent, Chinese.
For Example: in South Korea, Juice is "Jyu-seu".
In North Korea: "Gwa-il dan-mul", which translates to something like 'Fruit sweet water'.
In South Korea, "Ah-ee-seu-keu-rim"
In North Korea: "Uh-reum kwa-ja" , which means something like 'Ice sweet treat'.
It's kind of like how Icelandic and Faroese is closer to ancient Norse than Danish, Swedish and Norwegian.
Now, being a North Korean in North Korea is very different
from being a citizen of most other places on Earth.
First thing you have to know is, Juche. This word describes the
Ideology of North Korea started by it's founder, Kim Il-Sung.
Juche translates to something along the lines of 'Self reliance',
What's interesting is that North Korea even goes by the Juche year,
NOT the Gregorian Calendar. All the years starts on Kim Il-Sung's
birthday, April 15, 1912,
Making 2018 the year 106 for them.
All researches follow the 'Sungun jung-ji' policy,
which gives rash in pirority to the military.
They have the largest military budget per GDP in the world
at nearly 23%. Both men and women are
are required to serve conscription. And with 1.2 million active,
this makes North Korea the country with the 4th largest military after China, the US and India.
In elementary school, children are taught almost immediately that the enemy is the West,
and specifically, the USA. One of their favorite cartoons being
"Squirrel and Hedgehog", antimorphic depiction of North Koreans
versus the Japanese weasels, South Korean mice and the
American Wolves. And don't forget good old Russia bear
that the squirrels used to depend on for help as an ally
but he got too drunk and so they dropped him.
Now I'm pretty sure you're all aware on how much restriction there is in North Korea
on everyday commodities that we in the Western that are accustomed to
Like, YouTube.
A list of things restricted in North Korea include:
Overly provocative clothing, any website outside of North Korea's Kwang Myung intranet service,
movies and music from the outside,
Coca-Cola, anything related to or being LGBT,
International Travel, unless you are a high rank official with permission from the government,
Domestic Travel between cities unless you have a permit,
Magazines, Hair dye,
or a haircut that does not fit one of the 28 approved styles for men and women,
Any kind of Religious literature.
They did just legalize certain cellphones though.
Speaking of which, North Korea is essentially
an enforced atheistic state although some would argue that it's more like a personally reference state?
Although the constitution says that it allows religious freedom,
Religion is heavily restricted and chastised. Anyone owning a piece of religious
literature, proselytizing or worshipping anywhere
outside of the government sanction and heavily monitored churches will be punished severly.
Numbers are hard to come by since the Christian community is heavily concealed in underground.
A study show that there could be anywhere between 300,00 to half a million Christians
residing in North Korea to this day.
North Korea is a very elitist-run country.
The top and most privileged people live in Pyongyang. Most people that live in the
city are expected to excel in all fields of academia and arts.
Most people there play at least one instrument and have some kind of skill that can attribute to
the furtherance of North Korea's cultural identity.
And if the government feels like it, they will hold the Arirang mass games,
the largest of this kind according to the Guinness Book of World Records.
Here, students as young as 5 from one of
the top 8 elite schools of Pyongyang, participate in an
extravagant colorful performance of exquisitely polygraph acrabatics,
arts, dance and music.
With an amazing card mosaic wall,
literally controlled by individual students flipping color panels,
creating a massive moving image.
It's like a living TV and each pixel is a person.
OKAY! History Time! If we really want to go back and discuss the entire history of the
Korean Peninsula, it kinda goes like this:
Jelmun and Mumun pottery period, Korean Neolithic period, Korean Bronze age,
Korean Iron age, first kingdom of Gojoseon, was founded along with the Jin state,
The Proto 3 Kingdoms period,
The actual 3 Kingdoms period of Goguryeo, Baekje and Silla,
Silla and Balhae split up,
The Later 3 kingdoms, United dynastic period of Goryeo, Joseon and Korean Empire,
WW2 Japanese occupation,
There was a weird provisional government thing in China,
And then this is where things get complicated.
Basically, Russia and China supported the North,
And the US and the UN with its allies for the South.
The Korean War, or as the North Koreans call it, the "Victorious fatherland liberation war"
was essentially a war caused by political ideology.
Basically, there are arguments on who exactly on who shot the first fire.
But what we do know is that on Sunday, June 25, 1950,
North Korea's Korean people's army cross the 38th parallel behind artillery fire,
And in 3 months, push South Korean and American forces all the way down to Busan.
Then the US and UN forces retaliated.
They pushed the North Koreans all the way back up with a vicious counter attack.
Finally, there is a stalemate in armistice in 1954,
and the DMZ was set up officially separating the two Koreas.
Today, North Korea is in an interesting situation.
If you talk to an North Korean, they will tell you, Yes. Anyone disrespecting leaders
will be punished. Which brings us to Kim Jong Un.
I feel like we can have to make a flow chart like we did in the Colombia episode.
Barby: "Can we do that Ken?" Ken: "Sure!"
It all started with this guy, Kim Il Sung, father of North Korea.
Kim Il Sung had six children from two wives. His oldest song, Kim Jong Il
took over after him when he passed away in 1994. The country wept.
Kim Jong Il was known for being the man that essentially against UN policies.
In North Korea a nuclear state by supposedly by developing nuclear warheads.
He died in 2011.
The country wept again. He had six children from 3 different women.
The oldest son was suppose to inherit the nation
but apparently, Kim Jong Nam was considered an embarrassment and he lived in exile.
The next oldest son, Kim Jong Chul was deemed as 'not fit for the job'.
So that left the youngest song, Kim Jong Un to take over the throne.
Kim Jong Un was brought to power after his power's death
and in 2013, Kim Jong Un executed his aunt's husband
undergrounds of legend corruption in treasons.
His half brother, Kim Jong Nam was assassinated in Kuala Kumpur
(details are still a little shady behind it)
He then continued his father's work by doing a series of missiles tests on Mt. Mantap.
So yeah.
There is al ot of things going on North Korean politics
and it only gets more interesting if we talk about their relationship to
the outside world. Let's cover that, now.
North Korea is known for being one of the most isolated nations on Earth.
However, they do actually have diplomatic missions with outside states.
First of all,
North Korea has made kind of interesting business ties with various other African nations.
They are known for being the creators of various statues like the ones in
Zimbabwe, Namibia, Mozambique, even Senegal's
Resistance Monument, the largest statue in Africa.
Generally, they seem to have ties with nations that also have ties to communism
or are still under communist governments.
In the past, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam are pretty close allies
However in the past, these states have adopted a more capitalistic sub-structure
and in their legislation, which has distanced them from North Korea over the years.
You would think that the USA and UK would have bad ties,
But surprisingly, the UK has an embassy in North Korea.
North Korea actually does have 3rd party agreements
under the table that allows private investors to do business with them.
Whenever North Korea says they are 'closing off to the Americans',
There is always kind of like a small loophole that they kind of let slide.
And by that, I mean Dennis Rodman.
North Korea might say that their best friend would kind of technically be China and Russia;
however, China and Russia are a little wary of hanging out with them.
Both countries are their largest suppliers of import and export
as well as outside communication. Even though that is very restricted as well.
When it comes to South Korea though, the North kind of has a strange
'I love you but I hate everything you stand for' type of relationship.
These two are basically identical twins, separated at birth,
raised by incredibly different foster parents. North Koreans kinda feel South Koreans
as American puppets that can don't Western imperialist ideologies.
Basically, the narrative for the North Koreans is
"Withdraw your ties and sanctions to the Americans and then we can reunify"
Whereas the South is like, "Get rid of Kim Jong Un and join our system and then we can reunify".
In conclusion,
Yes, North Korea has quite a reputation around the world for a mysterious
isolated nation of enigma, brimming with controversy
and conflict. But they also have a unique story that tells us
how ideology can play one of if not one of the most important rules
on how we people would live on the planet.
I don't know what the future will hold for North Korea and South Korea,
Let's hope that somehow, someway peace can be refined our rules now.
Stay tuned, twin #2, South Korea is coming up next and
MY MOM Will Be In IT!
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Geography Now! North Korea (DPRK)

368 Folder Collection
Samuel published on July 4, 2018
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