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5 misconceptions about North Korea explained

Here is your list of misconceptions about North Korea, debunked, explained and clarified.

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Yesterday, the North Korean Ambassador to the UN gave a tense press conference in which he issued a statement promising that his nation would exercise the full right to self-defence in the event of an attack from the US.

He also affirmed that in his view, the threats from the US justify North Korea’s weapons programmes as it has shown that such things are necessary in order to both deter and defend against an attack.

The ambassador went on to warn that nuclear war could break out in the Korean peninsula at any moment because of the current tensions. He did not however, ‘threaten to unleash nuclear war’ as some in the mainstream media have suggested.

The short statement can be seen in its entirety below:

With so much disinformation about North Korea being spread by both its detractors and supporters, it is important to clarify some common misconceptions.

1. North Korea Is Dangerous

The United States, South Korea and Japan certainly believe North Korea is dangerous but does this correspond to objective realities?

Since the armistice which brought hostilities on the North Korean peninsula to an end in 1953, North Korea has not been engaged in direct combat with any nation in any meaningful sense.

North Korea has however engaged in various attempted assassinations and kidnappings over the years. Some such assassination attempts have been proved, for example the 1983 attempted assassination of South Korean President Chun Doo-hwan in Rangoon. Others such as the recent killing of Kim Jong-Un’s half-brother in Malaysia, remains shrouded in mystery.

The closest North Korea has come to war, until the present, was in 1976. That year, North Korean personnel killed two US servicemen in the Demilitarised Zone separating the two Korean states, by hacking them to death with an axe. War nearly broke out, but was ultimately avoided. North Korea later admitted responsibility for the killings.

So is North Korea dangerous? In a military sense, no. In respect of targeted killings, most of which failed, one could say that North Korea is unpleasant, but not nearly as unpleasant for example as the CIA which has a far larger and more successful track record of orchestrating political killings and the deposing of world leaders.

When one compares the amount of wars the US has started or been involved in since 1953, there is no contest. According to this analysis, the US is vastly more dangerous to global stability than North Korea.

2. North Korea Does Not Have WMD

Many anti-war activists throughout the world, remember that in 2003, America and Britain invaded Iraq on the basis that it had weapons of mass destruction. This turned out to be a total lie and many said so at the time.

Today, many accuse Syria of having weapons of mass destruction, when in fact Syria has never had nuclear weapons and all of its chemical weapons were removed from the country in 2014 in an agreement overseen by both the US and Russia and welcomed by China. 

Unlike Iraq and Syria, North Korea has weapons of mass destruction. North Korea openly admits this.

In 2005, North Korea announced it had functional nuclear weapons and conducted its first nuclear test in 2006. This contrasts for example with Israel which is almost universally thought to possess nuclear weapons but has never officially admitted to having them nor has Israel ever signed the Nuclear non-Proliferation Agreement (NPT).

North Korea threatened to pull out of the NPT in 1993 and eventually did so 10 years later.

3. North Korea was a Soviet and is a Chinese Ally 

After the end of hostilities in the Korean War (1953), neither China nor the Soviet Union became fully fledged allies of North Korea.

At times both countries even desired regime change in Pyongyang because of North Korea’s refusal to adopt either Maoist Chinese Communism nor Soviet style Marxist-Leninism.

North Korean founder Kim Il-Sung  coined his own communist ideology called Juche. It was yet another way of asserting North Korea’s status as a state that was independent of both its large superpower communist neighbours, China and the USSR.

In many ways, after the Sino-Soviet split of 1960, the Soviet Union was closer to North Korea than China was, although both countries continued to aid North Korea. China’s relationship with North Korea continued to deteriorate after Nixon ‘opened up China’ in the early 1970s.

Even so, North Korea was never a strong ally of the Soviet Union in East Asia, certainly not the way that North Vietnam and later a united Vietnam was.

In the final years of the Soviet Union, Moscow began cutting aid to the country. In the 1990s and 2000s China generally stepped up to fill this void.

Under Vladimir Putin, relations did begin to improve. A newly elected President Putin visited North Korea in the year 2000 and the visit was widely seen as successful. Still Moscow and Pyongyang cannot be considered allies nor even partners.

4. You Cannot Visit North Korea 

You can, unless specifically barred from entry, passport holders of any country, including the United States and Japan can go on one of the increasing numbers of guided tours for foreigners.

It isn’t possible to wander around on one’s own, but you can certainly see North Korea. Some have even illegally taken non-authorised photos. Of course certain authorised photo opportunities are widely available.

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5. North Korea Isn’t Free

This question is a matter of perspective. North Korea is among the most closed states in the world. Contact with the outside world is limited and the free speech enjoyed by Russians and Syrians living in government controlled areas does not exist.

Being wantonly idealistic, one could say that North Korea is a crime-free paradise, a shelter from a violent world where life is more mechanistic and safe than in many countries. The clean and crime free Pyongyang is world’s away from the violent crime and theft capitals of the west like Chicago, New York, London or Paris.

Being wantonly pessimistic, one could say that North Korea is a hermetic hell hole where Facebook, Twitter and Instagram aren’t available, where intentional travel is restricted and where interacting on a global scale is simply not possible.

The truth is psychologically in-between. The aforementioned perspectives rely on fact but ultimately, it would probably be difficult for a non-North Korea to adjust to life in the country. I certainly could not live there, although I could easily live in Russia, government controlled Syria, the US or most major European cities without needing to altar my work or lifestyle to any significant degree.

But no one is asking people like me, or the majority of people reading this to live in North Korea. This is something people tend to ignore when excoriating the at times odd and at times alluring scenes which transpire in North Korea.

Moreover, it is impossible to have a rational debate about any society without first understanding it for what it is, rather than judging it based on the misconceptions and mythologies which have been built up around it.

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BobValdez
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BobValdez

Thank you, Adam, another great article. You are rapidly restoring my faith in you. 😀

Hamletquest
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Hamletquest

Hmm… let me think North Korea has developed WMD’s to defend itself. It hasn’t invaded another country under any pretext false or otherwise. Neither has it invaded other countries nor murdered civilians en-mass for it’s own geo-political ends. So no war crimes, no breaches of international law in how many years over 60? So let’s see who has invaded other countries for it’s own geo-political ends under false pretexts, murdered civilians en-mass, committed war crimes and breached international law recently. Hmm… well the US has, twice in the last 2 weeks, in Syria and then Afghanistan and is now threatening… Read more »

Alberto
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Alberto

North Korea has the right to be the way it is. The US is responsible for the situation with their annual massive drills and permanent coercive rhetoric. Every US president has slammed North Korea in the last fifty years or more for the simple fact of being independent. I don’t give opinions on cultural facts. I know the U.S. and would not like living there. When Cuba was having terrible troubles after the demise of the S Union, North Korea was supplying weapons (rifles) to Cuba FREE, at no cost. They don’t bother anyone, they are not aggressors, they are… Read more »

Brad Isherwood
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Brad Isherwood

South Korea has a Presidential election on May 9, after the impeachment and dismissal of incumbent Park Geun-hye. China has significant investments in South Korea.  US ,Japan, have interests on numerous levels. Trump may be beating the war drums to continue present status of all things Empire in South Korea.  During Teddy Roosevelt 1907-1909 Great White Fleet …..Korea was brought into US sphere of influence Via Japan. Korean leaders were told any political issues regarding The US would be sent thru Japanese political channels.  Lots of abuse and betrayal in this history. …. Ho Chi Minh of Vietnam experienced the… Read more »

Keith Smith
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Keith Smith

read an article about missiles not being the issue, bioligical warfare is the real korean threat. Also are they testing rockets or missiles? NK needs satellites too. and may be pursuing a space program.

Dan Kuhn
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Dan Kuhn

There is only one problem with North Korea and that is that it will not go down on it´s knees to the US Empire. It will not submit. This enrages the US. It is playing around the edges trying to work up the nerve to attack, but is frozen in fear of what might be the great destruction of the myth of it´s all powerful military taking another hiding from North Korea. The US has not and cannot win a war in Asia. The Generals know it and in moments of lucidity have admitted it. But having short memories and… Read more »

Keith Smith
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Keith Smith

Is nice to see public opinion changing. i hate the way MSM portrays it

Suzanne Giraud
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Suzanne Giraud

thank you so very much for the true story;
now if only I could, I’d move there in a flash

Le Ruse
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Le Ruse

Now tell me ?? If you were Donald Trump & have received an unconditional ultimatum from Kim Jong Un, demanding that USA renounce all of it’s nuclear weapons ?? Stop all nuclear research ?? Demand a “regime change” in Washington & And threaten to send assassins to kill the President ?? So ?? How would you take it ?? Cry uncle ??

Mary
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Mary

fredd
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fredd

very difficult to go to China except to sell some rope and then you go back to the horrible place.
LOL
how did those poor NK survive without electricity
like people in the rest of the planet with no electricity i suppose
public executions like saudi arabia but it’s okay there
what a good thing the rest of the world is well fed like Yemen.
and have electricity 100% of the time.
sarcasm
why would somebody buy a TV if they only have electricity a couple of days a year?
did the goverment gave them for free?
what a load of BS

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Trump Has Gifted “No More Wars” Policy Position To Bernie Sanders (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 148.

Alex Christoforou

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RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou discuss how US President Donald Tump appears to have ceded his popular 2016 ‘no more wars’ campaign message and policy position to Bernie Sanders and any other US 2020 candidate willing to grad onto a non-interventionist approach to the upcoming Democrat primaries.

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“Is Bernie Stealing Trump’s ‘No More Wars’ Issue?” by Patrick J. Buchanan…


The center of gravity of U.S. politics is shifting toward the Trump position of 2016.

“The president has said that he does not want to see this country involved in endless wars… I agree with that,” Bernie Sanders told the Fox News audience at Monday’s town hall meeting in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Then turning and staring straight into the camera, Bernie added:

“Mr. President, tonight you have the opportunity to do something extraordinary: Sign that resolution. Saudi Arabia should not be determining the military or foreign policy of this country.”

Sanders was talking about a War Powers Act resolution that would have ended U.S. involvement in the five-year civil war in Yemen that has created one of the great humanitarian crises of our time, with thousands of dead children amidst an epidemic of cholera and a famine.

Supported by a united Democratic Party on the Hill, and an anti-interventionist faction of the GOP led by Sens. Rand Paul and Mike Lee of Utah, the War Powers resolution had passed both houses of Congress.

But 24 hours after Sanders urged him to sign it, Trump, heeding the hawks in his Cabinet and National Security Council, vetoed S.J.Res.7, calling it a “dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities.”

With sufficient Republican votes in both houses to sustain Trump’s veto, that should be the end of the matter.

It is not: Trump may have just ceded the peace issue in 2020 to the Democrats. If Sanders emerges as the nominee, we will have an election with a Democrat running on the “no-more-wars” theme Trump touted in 2016. And Trump will be left defending the bombing of Yemeni rebels and civilians by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.

Does Trump really want to go into 2020 as a war party president?

Does he want to go into 2020 with Democrats denouncing “Trump’s endless wars” in the Middle East? Because that is where he is headed.

In 2008, John McCain, leading hawk in the Senate, was routed by a left-wing first-term senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, who had won his nomination by defeating the more hawkish Hillary Clinton, who had voted to authorize the war in Iraq.

In 2012, the Republican nominee Mitt Romney, who was far more hawkish than Obama on Russia, lost.

Yet, in 2016, Trump ran as a different kind of Republican, an opponent of the Iraq War and an anti-interventionist who wanted to get along with Russia’s Vladimir Putin and get out of these Middle East wars.

Looking closely at the front-running candidates for the Democratic nomination of 2020 — Joe Biden, Sanders, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker — not one appears to be as hawkish as Trump has become.

Trump pulled us out of the nuclear deal with Iran negotiated by Secretary of State John Kerry and reimposed severe sanctions.

He declared Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization, to which Iran has responded by declaring U.S. Central Command a terrorist organization. Ominously, the IRGC and its trained Shiite militias in Iraq are in close proximity to U.S. troops.

Trump has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moved the U.S. Embassy there, closed the consulate that dealt with Palestinian affairs, cut off aid to the Palestinians, recognized Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights seized from Syria in 1967, and gone silent on Bibi Netanyahu’s threat to annex Jewish settlements on the West Bank.

Sanders, however, though he stands by Israel, is supporting a two-state solution and castigating the “right-wing” Netanyahu regime.

Trump has talked of pulling all U.S. troops out of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet the troops are still there.

Though Trump came into office promising to get along with the Russians, he sent Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine and announced a pullout from Ronald Reagan’s 1987 INF treaty that outlawed all land-based intermediate-range nuclear missiles.

When Putin provocatively sent 100 Russian troops to Caracas — ostensibly to repair the S-400 anti-aircraft and anti-missile system that was damaged in recent blackouts — Trump, drawing a red line, ordered the Russians to “get out.”

Biden is expected to announce next week. If the stands he takes on Russia, China, Israel and the Middle East are more hawkish than the rest of the field, he will be challenged by the left wing of his party, and by Sanders, who voted “no” on the Iraq War that Biden supported.

The center of gravity of U.S. politics is shifting toward the Trump position of 2016. And the anti-interventionist wing of the GOP is growing.

And when added to the anti-interventionist and anti-war wing of the Democratic Party on the Hill, together, they are able, as on the Yemen War Powers resolution, to produce a new bipartisan majority.

Prediction: By the primaries of 2020, foreign policy will be front and center, and the Democratic Party will have captured the “no-more-wars” political high ground that Candidate Donald Trump occupied in 2016.

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Over 200 killed, hundreds injured in series of blasts at Sri Lankan hotels & churches

A series of bombings hit churches and hotels across Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, killing more than 200 people.

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Via RT…


A series of eight explosions rocked Catholic churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka as Christians began Easter Sunday celebrations, with over 200 killed and hundreds injured, media reported, citing police.

The blasts started at around 8:45am local time at St. Anthony’s Church in Colombo and St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, a Catholic-majority town outside of the capital. The Zion Church in Batticaloa on the eastern coast was also targeted. At around the same time, the Shangri-La, Cinnamon Grand and Kingsbury five-star hotels were also hit, police confirmed.

Two more explosions happened later in the day, targeting two more locations in Colombo. All attacks appear to have been coordinated.

At least 207 people were killed, Reuters reported, citing police. More than 450 were injured in the attacks.

Alleged footage of the aftermath, shared on social media, showed chaos and large-scale destruction inside at least one of the churches.

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Mike Pompeo reveals true motto of CIA: ‘We lied, we cheated, we stole’ (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 147.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a look at a Texas A&M University speech, and subsequent interview, with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The former CIA Director admitted, ‘as an aside’ to the question asked, that the Intelligence agency he headed up before being appointed as the top US Diplomat had a motto “we lied, we cheated, we stole”…which, according to Pompeo, contained entire CIA training courses based on ‘lying, cheating and stealing.’

Pompeo finally speaks some truth.

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