The Cleanest Race How North Koreans See Themselves and Why ¿ MOBI publitags.co

Understanding North Korea through its propaganda What do the North Koreans really believe? How do they see themselves and the world around them? Here BRMyers a North Korea analyst and a contributing editor of The Atlantic presents the first full length study of the North Korean worldview Drawing on extensive research into the regime'sdomestic propaganda including films romance novels and other artifacts of the personality cult Myers analyzes each of the country's official myths in turn from the notion of Koreans' uniuemoral purity to the myth of an America uaking in terror of the Iron General In a concise but groundbreaking historical section Myers also traces the origins of this official culture back to theJapanese fascist thought in which North Korea's first ideologues were schooled What emerges is a regime completely unlike the West's perception of it This is neither a bastion ofStalinism nor a Confucian patriarchy but a paranoid nationalist military first state on the far right of the ideological spectrum Since popular support for the North Koreanregime now derives almost exclusively from pride in North Korean military might Pyongyang can neither be cajoled nor bullied into giving up its nuclear program The implications for US foreign policy which hashitherto treated North Korea as the last outpost of the Cold War are as obvious as they are troubling With North Korea now calling for a blood reckoning with the Yankeejackals Myers's unprecedented analysis could not be timely From the Hardcover edition


10 thoughts on “The Cleanest Race How North Koreans See Themselves and Why It Matters

  1. says:

    The Cleanest Race is a short but very interesting and informative book on North Korea and its uniue approach to its subject makes it an important one Most available books on world's most reclusive country tend to analyze its history and political system; many are stories of defectors who managed to escape But there's perilously little material focused on North Koreans as a society how is it different from other societies of this world and how is it similar? How do North Koreans see their country and themselves and how do they see the world around them?BR Myers attempts to answer these uestions by analyzing North Korean propaganda Instead of focusing on external broadcasts from Korean Central News Agency aimed at South Korea and the rest of the international community Myers focuses on internal propaganda writtenperformed in Korean and aimed specifically at North Koreans which surrounds them like a cocoon Myers guides his readers through the various propaganda films books and novels of North Korea which he refers to collectively as The Text to understanding of the North Korean national character which is deeply troubling Although originally established as a Soviet satellite with central characteristics of one undemocratic single party system centrally planned economy personality cult of its leaders Myers argues that North Korea is driven by an ideology resembling traditional Japanese fascism than any form of communism References to Marxism Leninism foundation of European communism and the Soviet Union have been removed from the country's constitution in 1972 and in 2009 all references to communism in general have been removed entirelyWhat is the first striking difference between North Korea and other communist countries is the virulent racism and discrimination of foreigners The Soviet Union was a diverse multi national state originally established with hopes of a world socialist revolution which would expand to Germany Britain France and eventually establish global socialism Even after western communists failed to gain power and Joseph Stalin implemented the doctrine of Socialism in One Country as the official state policy The Soviet Constitution allowed for bringing new republics into the Union which happened after World War 2 with annexation of Estonia Latvia and Lithuania and foreign policy emphasized international friendship between socialist nations The official effort of the Soviet Government was to eliminate nationalism which it believed to be counter revolutionary and contrary to class struggle and establish a state where all nationalities were accommodated eually and free to pursue socialism This is best seen in Lenin's open denunciation of traditional Russian nationalism and creation of individual republics and autonomous regions for the Soviet Union's many nations to protect them from Russian domination and his efforts at promoting non Russians in the Communist Party to balance its leadership and counter the large Russian presence within the party Despite his initial opposition after Lenin's death Stalin further expanded on these ideas and introduced the supranational concept of Soviet People nations united under the banner of socialist patriotism and guided by Marxism LeninismIn contrast nationalism plays a central role in North Korean society and is actively encouraged by the government Myers presents plenty of official propaganda which portrays North Koreans as a uniue race characterized by innocence and spontaneity clean and pure Racial mixing is considered a treachery and the hatred of foreigners extends even to friendly communists Myers cites a brutal attack on a black Cuban family in Pyongyang and beating of Soviet women married to North Korean officials North Korean women who married eastern European aid workers were accused of betraying the race; those who return pregnant from China the country's main supporter and protector are forced to submit to abortions While nationalism racism and discrimination of foreigners also exists in South Korea the difference between both countries is incomparable In a widely reported 2006 meeting between the North and South Korean delegations the topic of race mixing was raised by Northern officials The Southern delegation replied that the non Koreans living in their republic were but a drop of ink in the Han River and do not cause a problem in peaceful co existence; to which the Northern diplomat responded Since time immemorial our nation has been a land of abundant beauty Not even one drop of ink must be allowed to fall into the Han RiverNorth Koreans pride themselves on purity of their bloodline their homogeneity and mono ethnicity which is completely irreconcilable with Marixism Leninism Even South Korea is constantly refereed to as a corrupt Yankee Colony and anti Americanism is the official policy of the North Korean state Contrary to other communist regimes which claimed to oppose the ruling bourgeoisie and desired to free the oppressed social masses to estabilish the dictatorship of the proletariat North Koreans don't make a distinction between bad American capitalists and good Americans workers and peasants The propaganda uniformly presents all Americans in a racist deriding and uasi anti Semitic fashion dark skinned sunken eyed hook nosed and as jackals in human form with other descriptions rendering them further sub human and comparable to animals in their degradation The dissolution of the Soviet Union North Korea's godfather is ridiculed by the propagandists as having happened without a single shot which emphasizes the strength of North Korea's military first policy and the iron grip of the regime over its people Xenophobic race based nationalism is the essence of contemporary North Korea where people pride themselves on their innocence; it is best seen in their approach to sex when one North Korean falls for another it's only because the other is a model citizen who is devoted to the state; propaganda encourages and promotes chastity and modesty of model North Korean women and never depicts lovers touching one another and behaving in an adult way this celibacy aims to reflect the one of a child All eventual unions are completely heterosexual there is absolutely no place for homosexuality which is universally condemned as a characteristically American perversion for which there is no place among the pure Korean people Communist societies provided free higher education for their citizens as a mean to empower the working class; North Korea encourages the complete opposite its citizens are encouraged to remain in the state of intellectual ignorance dressed up as Korean innocence be forever the faithful children under the kind eye and guiding hand of their Dear LeaderThe cult of personality of North Korean leaders the Kim family is also an interesting and uniue case Cult of personality surrounding Stalin Lenin and other communist leaders focused on their devotion to the communist cause but also stressed their contribution real and falsified to scholarly work not limited to Marxism Leninism Both Stalin and Lenin have given countless speeches and were genuinely concerned with ideas actively participated in debates and were prolific writers and were portrayed as such This is not the case with North Korea's Dear Leader as the propaganda emphasizes the innate innocence of North Koreans the Kims are not allowed to be shown as thinkers all their ideas are supposed to spring from their uniuely Korean spontaneity The Leader cannot be displayed as if he were engaging in any intellectual behavior which is why portraits of Kim Il sung usually display him with blank eyes Contrary to the patriarchal character of Stalin named by propagandists as The Father of Nations the elder Kim's role is matriarchal since all North Koreans are by their own nature an innocent child like race they need a leader who will act like a mother fathers are largely absent in North Korean propaganda Therefore Kim is presented as a caring nurturing figure personally attending to soldiers and holding them to his bosom making sure that they have proper food and clothingAlthough the Japanese are shown as a hostile imperial power Myers argues that the North Korean propagandists borrow heavily from Japanese myths Contrary to personality cults of communist leaders which emphasized their rise to the top of the party through hard work and dedication to the communist cause Kim Il sung was portrayed as a messianic figure destined to lead Korean people to socialist victory and ultimately unify the peninsula under his rule Dear Leader is often portrayed similarly to the Japanese emperor embodiment of all virtues of his race which makes it perfectly logical that his decisions should not be uestioned and that he should be obeyed Mount Paektu North Korea's highest peak was given the same mystical character as the sacred Japanese Mount Fuji and was appropriately chosen as the place where the Dear Leader was bornFor the propagandists the love for the Dear Leader is pan Korean even when reports began to surface in the North that the Yankee colony of South Korea enjoys a much higher standard of living the propagandists changed their tune accordingly South Koreans owe their material wealth because of Dear Leader's selfless military first policy and the heroic North Korean citizens which is the only thing stopping the yankees from plunging them into another war and that no amount of wealth can silence the yearning of the southern brethren for freedom and moral purification under the Dear Leader's rule When North Korea was hit by a disastrous famine in the mid 1990's the official reason given by the government was that the teachings of Kim were not properly followed; American food aid was presented as a tribute to the nation by frightened Americans while at the same time official posters advocated for revenge against the yankee vampires Myers argues that such animosity can be explained by the fact that the regime needs a hostile threat from the US to justify its existence contrary to the former communist states who participated in peace talks and signed peace treaties and whose official foreign policy argued for world peace the North Korean government depends on threats of war from both America and its yankee colony for its very existence Actually signing a peace treaty would not strengthen its rule but possibly fuel the fire for an internal revolution against it The Cleanest Race present a fascinating portrayal of North Korea a country which is a totalitarian society but at the same time far and away from the bastion of communism it is so often portrayed to be It's racist based military first ideology puts it in the extreme right of political spectrum rather than the far left associated with communist societies It's incredibly informative and very readable and will doubtlessly prove valuable for any reader interested in the inner dynamics of North Korea and provide as a great companion for Barbara Demick's Nothing to Envy Ordinary Lives in North Korea a record of six refugees from the country which offers a very personal perspective


  2. says:

    June 12 2018 saw a momentous event in world politics an event that future historians will single out as a defining event of the twenty first century an event the like of which has never been seen before in relations between sovereign states not in this century not in the last century not in the whole of recorded human history I am of course referring to the 2018 North Korea – United States summitWhy was this summit so different from all past summits past conferences conclaves councils seminars or any other meeting between heads of state ever? Why so unlike Yalta or Potsdam or Munich or Camp David or Sharm el Sheikh? Was it the participants – a vicious dictator meeting the ‘leader of the free world’? Was it the circumstances – a summit held to prevent the almost certain outbreak of nuclear war triggered by the twitter rivalry of ‘Little Rocket Man’ and a US President ready to press his “Nuclear Button” which is “much bigger and powerful”? The first clue to the uniue nature of this summit came a few days before it took place You can see this clue on prominent display in the picture below The clue is not the letter inside the envelope of course – President Trump thought it was a great letter although he never read it – but the big shiny envelope itself Historians of early generations read the Zinoviev Letter the Letter from Birmingham Jail or Einstein’s letter to President Roosevelt Historians of the Trump administration will pass over the letter's contents and instead ponder the size of the envelope and the abundantly shiny reflective properties of the paper out of which it was made They will remark on its resemblance to envelopes used during the Oscar ceremony or when announcing the winner of Miss WorldThe next clue to the special nature of the 2018 North Korea – United States Summit comes in the form of a trailer produced by “Destiny Pictures” and distributed by that well known source of popular light entertainment the White House Click through to the video below to see what is one of the most incredible videos your taxes ever paid to produce I think we are close to the real nature of the 2018 North Korea – United States Summit I’ll use its popular name from now on Comic Yalta This is the first time in history that an international summit was not the serious meeting of sovereign states that it pretended to be but instead was what it looked like to all the world the pilot episode of a poorly produced reality TV showFor the first time in history a major international summit meeting was held with no substance at all None No sherpas no agreement no agreed press statement no objectives no resolution Nothing at all; just two individuals of doubtful moral character hanging out in a room for forty five minutes pretending to each other and to the world that they were having a world changing international summit meeting This has actually happened in our lifetimes It might even happen againTrump didn’t have to prepare for Comic Yalta because he has performed in a reality TV most of his working life and to a record breaking audience since November 2016 The DPRK has been preparing Kim for his role on set for decades as well The sole objective of Comic Yalta was to entertain the populations of Korea America Japan and other countries and make the people feel good for a few hours This not co incidentally is also the purpose of most prime time TV And by all accounts Comic Yalta has succeeded; Kim looks secure and Trump’s popularity his ticked up Not “panem et circenses” exactly “porcus crustum et linum rapio” “McDonalds and Netflix” – or the closest I could get with google translateHow can I be so certain that Comic Yalta was nothing than reality TV? Might it not have been a sincere attempt by both parties to serve up World Peace with a chunk of Nobel Prize on the side?Well besides that envelope Destiny Pictures and everything about Comic Yalta looking like a cheap TV program we have this book being an excellent review of North Korean domestic propaganda DPRK propaganda for the home market is very different from propaganda aimed at the world outside and as the author notes in his introduction is often ignored on account of being either inaccessible or just too weird ‘The Cleanest Race’ argues convincingly that domestic DPRK propaganda is built on Japanese propaganda from the time Korea was a Japanese colony when both countries saw their citizens as ethnically superior to the rest of the world As a result at its heart it is deeply racist and fascistic Other races – particularly the Americans are inferior while the Korean people are pure blooded and virtuous albeit too virtuous to survive in an evil world without a great parental leader We have all seen clips of the Arirang mass games in which scores of children of the same height body type and hairstyle dance and leap in unison These games are not the grim Stalinist exercises in anti individualism that foreigners such as the makers of the aforementioned documentary often misperceive them as but joyous celebrations of the pure bloodedness and homogeneity from which the race’s superiority derives This ethno centric ideology is broadly held in the DPRK and sustains the popularity to the regime Paranoid nationalism may well be an intellectual void and appeal to the lowest instincts—there is nothing in North Korean ideology that a child of twelve cannot grasp at once—but for that very reason it has proven itself capable of uniting citizens of all classes Typical of authoritarian regimes other races are portrayed as subhuman and worth of extinction It is interesting to see how DPRK writers portray ethnically inferior Americans as this excerpt from a popular novel about the deliberate poisoning of Korean children by American missionaries shows the Americans’ evil can be “read” in their big noses large breasts and sunken eyes The old jackal’s spade shaped eagle’s nose hung villainously over his upper lip while the vixen’s teats jutted out like the stomach of a snake that has just swallowed a demon and the slippery wolf cub gleamed with poison like the head of a venomous snake that has just swallowed its skin Their six sunken eyes seemed like open graves constantly waiting for corpses An example of the success of DPRK propaganda efforts is the famous canard that North Korean citizens believe that American food aid is nothing of the sort but rather tribute paid by the US to the Korean people This seems hardly credible to someone outside DPRK but the book explains why this can be true; the North Korean people have been fed a complex but believable narrative about the US and South Korea over the years that can justify such a beliefIn the eighties and nineties it became increasingly clear that South Korean standards of living were outpacing those of the North The ever increasing flow of communications from South to North showing better material lifestyles in the south – the tapes videos DVDs broadcasts – was difficult to stop DPRK propaganda rose to this new challenge with the narrative that Kim Jong il I had swung to a “military first” strategy which meant the DPRK forgoing material luxuries in order to focus on a military build up that would protect both North and South Korea from increased Yankee military aggression “the southern masses are acutely aware that were it not for the DPRKs military first policy the Yankees would long since have plunged them into another ruinous war They owe their material comfort to the self sacrifice not only of the Dear Leader but of all the heroic citizens of the DPRK” Even the Korean famine in the 1990s was built into the narrative if anything the famine may have strengthened support for the regime by renewing the sense of ethnic victimhood from which the official worldview derived its passion Many migrants remember a widespread yearning for war with America during the famine But while the DPRK propagandists have fed these narratives they have boxed themselves and into a corner giving themselves less room to maneuver while they try and produce a coherent story As a result the greatest security risk they have been facing recently comes not from America but from the prosperity of South Korea As the author states the Kim regime would not survive the realization that it was not the Yankees who were blocking reunification all long but their own blood brothers in the south “Pyongyang negotiates with Washington not to defuse tension but to manage it to keep it from tipping into all out war or an eually perilous all out peace Ignorant of this because ignorant of the North’s ideology Americans tend to blame problems in the US DPRLK relationship on whoever happens to be in the Oval Office thinking him either too soft or too hard on Pyongyang Trump as ignorant of DPRK ideology as he is of everything outside his own field of vision at any particular moment gave the North Koreans exactly what they wanted – status on the world stage as eual to America recognition as a nuclear armed power concessions on military maneuvers – and all for nothingAmazingly works by DPRK propagandists written years before Comic Yalta anticipated a time when the DPRK could be seen by the world as eual to America as illustrated by this excerpt from a North Korean propaganda novel which imagines a conversation between US and DPRK nuclear negotiators 'Gallucci “We respect you The future peace not only of the Korean peninsula but also of Asia the Pacific Region depends on us on the US and North Korea”Mun “Whose words are those? Yours?”Gallucci “The words of the White House”Mun “That amounts to saying that we’re a superpower too”Gallucci “That’s right you’re a superpower A superpower like America”Now Korea was on an eual footing with the United States the world’s only superpower Asia’s small country Korea which had once lost its luster on the world map So when Trump salutes a North Korean general it makes perfect sense – the propagandist’s lie that North Korea was eual to America was never a lie after all This long DPRK propaganda video made after Comic Yalta shows the salute But the Koreans have no intention and never had any intention of keeping their word Why would a superior race make promises to degenerate animals like the Americans? “Let us turn now to DPRK domestic propaganda’s treatment of the ongoing nuclear dispute Here too the contrast to Soviet propaganda is stark Where Moscow always professed a respect for international law the North Koreans reject the notion that a pure race should be bound by the dictates of an impure world DPRK domestic propaganda thus cheerfully admits that the DPRK joined the Non Proliferation Treaty in 1985 only to “use” it for the country’s own ends whereupon it “ignored” or “scorned” the treaty’s stipulations Why would a superior race ever be scared of the degenerate Americans? Suffice to say that there is no trace of fear of any adversary in DPRK domestic propaganda One is struck by the contrast to anti American propaganda in East Germany during the 1980s which constantly raised the specter of nuclear war On the contrary the child race is depicted as itching for a “holy war” or sŏngjŏn—once a common term in Pacific War propaganda—in which to kill Yankees and reunite the motherland So there we have it Comic Yalta’s main achievment was to keep the people entertained until the next distraction comes along Already we have No sign of North Korea dismantling nuclear weapons programme Mattis admitsIronically talking to the North Koreans and curtailing military maneuvers was a good idea from the point of view of avoiding accidentally triggering a nuclear war but that was not the original plan of Comic Yalta because there was no plan But given the success of its pilot episode this reality show can run and run keeping us on the edge of our seats until the White House production company and Destiny Pictures who don't even know how the series will turn out themselves screens a final unexpected denouement


  3. says:

    My fascination with North Korea is well known; I've read just about every book on the subject which was why picking this up was a no brainer And the text did not disappoint The author painstakingly walks readers through an exhaustive look at North Korean cultural mythology and examines the cults of personality built up around Kim Il Sung Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un Not only does he examine these cults of personality he explains why precisely it is that they work to sway the masses He takes the reader on a journey through history stopping freuently to discuss North Korea's relations with the United States Russia and South Korea and always makes mention of the propaganda that allows North Korea to sell its version of these political narratives to its people He adds that the North Korean myth that South Koreans live in poverty and sualor and yearn for reunification under the Great Leader became much harder to sell once North Koreans became aware of the South's wealth in terms of material superiority so now the myth has become that though South Koreans are wealthy now they yearn for simple moral lives and support reunification still In reality of course the majority of South Koreans spare no thought for any of the Kims and are perfectly happy to delay reunification forever This is one of the most comprehensive explanations of North Korea's cultural mythology that I have ever come across and I found it an incredibly interesting and insightful read The text itself can be kind of dry at times not as engaging as I'd hoped but it's important to push through and keep reading because the author does a great job not only looking at the cultural mythology and successful cults of personality built up in the country's propaganda apparatus but using that discussion to explain why Pyongyang will never CAN never normalize relations with Washington I'm sharing some excerpts that I found particularly fascinatingBut judging from refugee testimony North Koreans are no fonder of the solitary activity of reading than South Koreans are Most get their romance from films and TV dramas which still depict love in a twee and formulaic manner reminiscent of Bollywood with girlfriends summoned by bird call imitations courtship conducted while bobbing around a tree and so on The childishness of the love exalts it As the DPRK's most influential writer once said of his characters their love is permeated with Korean morality in contrast to the greasy love of Western people What may look to outsiders like a simple love story is thus as much a part of the Text as anything elseThough I dispute his wrongful simplicity in describing Bollywood love films which I'm not really a fan of myself I prefer classic Indian cinema from the 1950s but still even I can tell you that his interpretation of Bollywood courtship is wrong and betrays a misunderstanding of the Indian culture I thought the contrast set up between Korean moral love and Western greasy love was interesting About the cult of personalityA personality cult comes into being when a one man dictatorship presents itself as a democracy The goal is to convey the impression that due to the ruler's uniue ualifications and the unanimity of the people's love for him his rule constitutes the perfect fulfillment of democratic ideals To eliminate all doubt that the Leader's virtues were inborn and not acuired the Text plays up his impeccable lineage and the very young age at which he began manifesting his virtue With very short hair and a soft pale moon face marked by small and feminine features the boy Kim il Sung recalls the children pictured in imperial Japanese schoolbooks Usually he looks cheerful showing the dimpled smile to which the Text constantly draws attention In some pictures like one in which he receives a gun from his mother he seems to sense the responsibility weighing on his young shoulders but even here his eyes are blank because true Korean spontaneity ends where an intellectual expression begins Kim is never shown thinkingThis was one of the most incredible insights I gleaned from this book It put everything else I'd learned about North Korea and its propaganda into context No other text had bothered to explain it like this the Koreans believe they are a superior clean race Their leader is the embodiment of that clean race but on steroids One of the Korean characteristics is spontaneity and a childishness born of virtue and naivete that makes them superior beings in this dirty cruel brutal world Because of this none of its leaders can be seen as intellectuals The author explains furtherStories of Kim's on the spot guidance are alike not only in their depiction of the hero but in their storylines and secondary characters as well The latter usually include a rather slow witted aide a different man each time the better to play up his comic astonishment at the leader's every word and deed Things usually start off with Kim in an unidentified office In contrast to the Stalin cult with its many paeans to the light in the Kremlin window the Text does not associate the leader with any particular residence or workplace; he was and is everywhere for he is at the heart of every Korean The standard plot the aide reports on a problem in a remote farm or factory the leader jovially suggests a road trip and the two men head out in the presidential sedan throwing everyone into a tizzy when they arrive The leader must then be shown solving the problem but without coming off as cerebral and therefore un Korean Both problem and solution are thus described in terms a child can graspAbout how the Dear Leader is often represented hermaphroditicallyJust enough should be written to counter the reader's skepticism that sane people could give themselves over to the adoration of a male mother figure Sigmund Freud wrote of every child's yearning for a phallic mother a truly omnipotent parent who is both sexes in one and Ernest Becker agreed that the hermaphroditic image answers a striving for ontological wholeness that is inherent to man This may explain why Jesus and Buddha are far feminine and maternal figures in the popular imagination than in the original scriptures of Christianity and Buddhism THe North Korenas' race theory gives them extra reason to want a leader who is both mother enough to indulge their uniue childlikeness and father enough to protect them from the evil worldAbout the idea that Kim Jong Il or Kim Jong Un wantedwant America as an ally basically repudiation of this idea is the hidden thesis of the book the light at the end of the tunnel the realization that dawns on the reader after working his or her way through this entire textThe obvious retort to this wishful thinking is to ask how the DPRK could possibly justify its existence after giving up the confrontational anti Americanism that constitutes its last remaining source of legitimacy We are dealing here with a failure not just of information analysis but of common sense a failure to understand that North Korea is one of two states laying claim to the same nation It must either go on convincing its citizens that it is the better Korea or acknowledge Seoul's right to rule the whole peninsula This is why it is so futile for the West to promise Pyongyang aid and assistance in return for disarmament As if the poorer Korea could trade a heroic nationalist mission for mere economic growth without its subjects opting for immediate absorption by the rival stateA truly fascinating read that I wish folks in Washington would pick up Many thanks to Edelweiss and Melville House for the ARC


  4. says:

    I picked this up because I read some reviews praising it as a guide outlining why North Korea is NOT like Communist regimes Which was news to me I'd always thought it to be a USSR derived satellite It turns out that NK has a truly uniue and disturbingly understandable personality cult that encourages its citizens to prioritize naivete innocence and childhoodThe best parallel I can make is imagine a cult that basically convinced a population to go back to Adam and Eve in Eden A single nurturing guardian will protect you from the corrupted world and it's just your job to remain carefree Now strip out the religion and replace it with a deeply racist cultural position chuck in some historical aggression from external threats find a motherly looking figurehead and you've got North KoreaReally the whole book's fascinating The cult itself makes no sense to an onlooker but I can see why it's the most natural thing in the world to the people raised in it But don't go looking for than propaganda analysis here this is about how N Koreans see themselves and their national identity not about prison camps and famineI'm knocking a star off purely because you need a bit of grounding in Korean War era events to grasp some concepts When dealing with propaganda to this degree it can be hard to untangle the propaganda from the reality There were a few mentions of outrageous crimes that I had to research as I read as you can't tell if the author's recounting NK propaganda if NK's exaggerating a real event or if the entire thing's trueAs I neared the end of the book I definitely started to get outraged at the idea that the US are sending immense amounts of food aid to North Korea and NK is telling its citizens that it's basically tributes from a fearful nation to the Great Leader BR Myers seems pretty convinced that we're going about North Korea in the wrong way and after reading this I wanted to cut off foreign aid completely JeezAnyhow Fascinating read and also probably a good bit of research if you're writing a novel and want some source material for world building a personality cult


  5. says:

    “Where Moscow always professed respect for international law the North Koreans reject the notion that a pure race should be bound by the dictates of an impure world”“Just as a jackal cannot become a lamb the US imperialists cannot change their rapacious nature”from the book Our enemies are the American bastardsWho are trying to take over our beautiful fatherlandWith guns that I make with my own handsI will shoot them BANG BANG BANG This book is timely Maybe it will help finding possible scenarios on the North Korean strategy facing America's recent moves The book is a good exercise in social psychology; the psychology of a people and their leaders Myers describes at length the maternal side of the North Korean leaders; stresses also the Japanese influence early on on the sense of nationalism of the north Koreans; a distinct raceThis is the biggest deal of Trump’s lifeTom Rogan 14th April 2017in readying for N Korea emergencyin ESCALATIONNasty brutish and short—what the next Korean War will look likein YOU BELIEVE IT??This a complete new premiseNorth Korea Signals Willingness to ‘Denuclearize’ South Saysin


  6. says:

    there's something slightly unhinged about Professor BR Myers whose vitriolic takedowns of North Korean 'juche' philosophy have the character of a personal attack until you learn that Professor Myers is a long time Korea expat and surrounded by a culture that notoriously comes off as 'highly emotional' to many Americans and certainly almost all Japanese Myers himself resorts to loyalty demonstrating 'takedowns' of unKoreanness in NK propaganda as well as forces in his adopted country he despises the strange mood swinging dysphoria in Myers' writing ironically echoes the weirdness of North Korea itself and although Myers' long standing feud with leftist Bruce Cumings is well known I'm not sure Professor Cumings deigns to respond it's the flea raging against the tiger and the tiger can't be rid of the flea but the tiger is still looking where to find its next ibixAlthough CLEANEST RACE has plenty of nice propaganda photos and reads fluently in many ways it comes a distant third to Cumings or even the right of centre Barbara Demick Part of the problem is that Demick is at least trained in journalism but Myers did all his graduate study in Soviet studies and didn't even work in the East Asian field after getting his degrees it's cold war geopolitical approaches mixed in with some german and japanese thinking about Korea culture and while fascinating in its own way lacks the academic rigor of others in this fieldalthough a useful edition to the north korea literature this brief work can't be considered ground breaking scholarship there is truth in madness sometimes but I'm not sure I'd want to be locked in a room with either a group of north korean soldiers or Professor Myers


  7. says:

    I liked BR Myers's takedown of literary fiction way back when and was game to give this a try even though it's on a totally unrelated topic namely the political and national mythology of North Korea The general idea is that it's a mistake to see North Korea as the last bastion of hardline Stalinism Instead their militant and isolationist stance is the result of a bizarre mythos of racial purity Over several generations of political turmoil and encouraged by Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il there arose a story of Koreans as a racially immaculate people characterized by childlike innocence and spontaneity who reuire a seemingly genderless parental figure to shepherd them through an evil and debased world Americans are the worst of all and South Koreans yearn for unity under North Korean leadership Myers presents the various aspects of this story which he draws from visual and written propaganda and not the stuff that's been translated into English instead the original Korean language materials It's oddly like an art historical project of iconographic analysis except instead of explaining what a lily represents in a picture of the Virgin Mary we're finding out what a picture of Kim Il Sung hugging a soldier is supposed to mean The overall effect is bizarre but convincing Extra points for brevity


  8. says:

    If we did not know that Iran is an Islamic state it would forever baffle us no matter how good the rest of our intelligence might be Myers succinctly and persuasively lays out why the US seems to be similarly baffled by North Korea What is North Korea? Is it a crazy mix of traditional Confucianism and Marxist Leninism? If only The real answer is far weirder and much disturbing The North Koreans adopted and amped up the propaganda world view of the Japanese colonial regime without the Japanese The Koreans are the purest and most virtuous race in the world Their virtues are those of children North Korea is often compared to 1984 but Brave New World with its infantilization of the masses seems eually applicable The simple Koreans would like to be left alone but need to be protected from the depredations of the outside world by the parental leaders the Kims The word parental is key since while the Kims are male their virtues are those of the mother No fooling Juche or self reliance is just intellectual window dressing The disturbing part is that Myers clearly shows that the popularity of this racist ideology explains Pyongyang's behavior and that this ideology will not let us talk North Korea down from the ledge


  9. says:

    Absolutely fascinating look at North Korea's self image The author skillfully presents the argument that North Korea's attitude of themselves as a pure clean race constantly in danger of contamination by everyone outside their borders is what fuels the ability of the Kim dynasty to stay in power The Kims are maternal figures protectors of the childlike populace and Myers' copious uotes from propaganda that is seen by domestic eyes bears out that thesis What they see and what is translated into English for foreign consumption in uite different The internal propaganda is far racist and as a result it is unlikely that there would ever be an improvement of relations between them and the rest of the world There is absolutely no advantage for them to do so when they already get foreign aid from a number of countries And as what happened when the USSR started reducing the amount of aid they simply go withoutThere are other reviews here far elouent Go read them and check out the book if you're curious It's not a litany of crimes against humanity but an exploration of the mindset on the Korean peninsula and how it's fertile ground for an authoritarian cult of personalityRiveting stuff


  10. says:

    Fascinating on the North Korean ideology which builds on the legacy of the half century of Japanese rule to invent the notion that the Koreans are the purest of all Asian races pure rather than superior Their purity makes them helpless and they need a father figure to guard their purity This is much important than Marxism to which lip service is paid but which confuses American lefties and far important than Confucianism which is non existent in NK The complexity is that many South Koreans are attracted by this notion which after all is something that the oldest generation grew up with before WWII and that NKs hold it sincerely Completely amazing