This Week on the News…
[11/05] 6 million mobile phones in use in North Korea; each priced at $100-200
Reports show that in North Korea, the number of mobile phones is estimated to be at around 6 million, and the price range is anywhere from $100 to $200. This was stated by South Korean Minister of Unification Cho Myoung-gyon during a session of the National Assembly’s Special Committee on Budget and Accounts. These phones use data that comparatively under the 3G network, yet their internet access is severely restricted and regulated.
This particular piece of information is interesting to know, especially when considering that mainstream media does not cover these aspects of North Korea. What the general population hears about the most are the stories from refugees and defectors, and their experiences of squalid living conditions, and difficulties living in North Korea. Normally these stories are exaggerated or written by ghostwriters to advance a certain agenda regarding their political views on North Korea. Not to say that this diminishes the existence of these kinds of conditions in North Korea, but people need to understand that there does exist a middle class and a wealthy class that lives fairly similar lifestyles to the South Korean counterparts.
The article can be read in its entirety here.
[11/08] High-ranking defector cancels event appearance over ‘threatening letter’
Thae Yong-ho, who is a high-ranking North Korean defector, canceled attending a public event earlier this week due to receiving a threatening letter from an online community that is predominantly progressive students. The letter warned him not to hinder activities that would hinder the unification process in general. Thae is known to have backed the issue regarding the United States imposing sanctions on North Korea.
In my perspective, this is not the right course of action for dealing with unpopular opinions. Even as a supporter of pro-reunification, we need to listen to their side of the story, and how they’ve approached their foundation of their opinions. Instead of condemning an opposing opinion and not to talk to them, one needs to face them and listen, even if it doesn’t result in a common middle ground or compromise that is established. Without discourse, people just hold on to their opinions, and can even generate hate towards a certain demographic due to being ignored or ridiculed for their ideas.
The full article can be read here.
[11/12] Two Koreas discuss expanding cooperation on health issues
In order to address the influx of contagious diseases coming into the Korean Peninsula, the two countries held talks this past Wednesday to discuss ways to jointly fight these contagious diseases and expand cooperation on matters related to health in general. This was the first instance where they would have inter-Korean talks about health issues in 11 years.
”We will faithfully participate in the meeting in order to achieve results in areas like improving health for people, as well as devise ways to halt an inflow of diseases.” - Kwon Deok-cheol, Vice Health Minister of South Korea.
This is great when talking about progressing inter-Korean relations, even if it’s just about health-related issues. This shows the development of communication between the two countries. This ease of tension allows for more productive discourse to occur between these two countries. This might be just planting the “seed” of realizing a feasible unification, but one needs to start somewhere instead of addressing things like unification as impossible from the start.
The full article on this issue can be found here.