He goes into a hairdressers & points at a poster of models all with similar hairstyles, (as if to suggest that all citizens have to look the same, and perhaps look similar to Kim Jong Un). In reality this is no different to most barbershops in the UK, which often have such posters of models with slight variations of a ‘short back & sides’ hairstyle. And let’s not forget that most westerners, like a herd of sheep, follow trends – hairstyles, fashion, interior design, gadgets, etc – which are set by corporations via advertising so as to constantly create new opportunities for revenue. Is this really any better than copying the hairstyle of your country’s leader?
He observes frequent statues and imagery of the leaders, and the badges of them that many citizens proudly wear on their jacket lapels. Is this so different from statues in the west of royalty, presidents, etc? And regarding the badges, is this not comparable to seemingly every other home in America proudly displaying the stars and stripes on the porch? The patriotism/nationalism in the US is more noticeable than any other country I have visited. Presidents who oversaw violent coups and illegal invasions of foreign countries, are lionized. The extremely bloodied flag is on display everywhere. Surely there is no citizenry more brainwashed than the American populace?
There’s little context to explain why NK is the way it is. Their militarism is understandable - I wonder if Michael even knows that America has been surrounding the region with military bases. Plus obviously there is their militarism/war games in the South, their refusal to sign peace treaties, their recent regime change interventions in other countries…
When he arrives, by train from China, into the north of the country, he is told to stop filming. He proclaims that this is the ‘first sign of authoritarian rule’. In reality, this is no different to arriving in many countries. I have been shouted at for filming in LA airport.
I am not saying NK isn’t repressive – it seems clear that citizens have little choice but to respect their system/ruler - but how much of this authoritarianism is a result of a need to unite against a very real imperial threat (from the same country that decimated their land and people in the 1950s)?
And perhaps they actually have some freedoms that many westerners do not have? The freedom to live in dignity; to not have to worry about basic needs, because the communist system prioritises that; the freedom to not be constantly manipulated and mentally abused by a virulent corporate state; the freedom to not be forced (due to poverty) into the military to fight in imperial wars...
I look forward to the rest of the series. Hopefully Michael comes to realise that he is just as/more propagandised than the people of North Korea.