- How does the group organization described by Pak Hyon Sun's grandfather promote responsibility and commitment?
- The narrator suggests the regime utilizes established cultural values. What values are those, and how are they utilized by the regime?
- Hypothesize...what criteria might be employed by the Party in allocating residency in Pyongyang?
- What features of state radio bring to mind the term 'Orwellian'?
Organization, discipline, and collectivism are important values in North Korean society. "One for All, All for One," is a popular slogan used by the ruling Party. The Mass Games, a collective art form created by thousands of participants, serves as a prime example of this teamwork mentality. In this clip, Pak Hyon Sun gives us a brief portrait of life in the capital city of North Korea, Pyongyang.
In 1945, following World War II, a line was drawn on the 39th parallel dividing Korea into two states: North Korea and South Korea. North Korea was headed by Kim Il Sung and the communist Korean Workers' Party. The structure of North Korean government has persisted unchanged since the death of Kim Il Sung in 1994 and the transference of power to his son, Kim Jong Il. The North Korean government is often referred to as a totalitarian dictatorship due to its single-party rule and the control exercised by the state over many aspects of life in the country.
The Korean War, that lasted from 1950-1953, was one of several attempts during the last half century to reunify Korea under either Southern or Northern leadership. During this conflict, which in North Korea is referred to as the "Fatherland Liberation War," North Korea was unsuccessful in its bid to take over the southern part of the peninsula by force. The war ended up involving many different nations, and killed an estimated 4 million Koreans, nearly 1 million Chinese, 33,700 U.S. troops, and few thousand international UN troops.
In recent decades, North Korea has suffered great economic hardship. The country's industry has fallen into ruin following the withering of trade arrangements with the USSR and China. Agricultural prospects are poor and the country relies heavily on foreign food aid. Several recent periods of severe deprivation and famine in the country have left the North Korean people in a struggle for daily survival. In 1995, horrible floods created conditions so bad that it is estimated that close to 3 million people died. In addition, international concern about North Korea's military efforts deepened considerably in the first decade of the 21st century following its withdrawal from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and its announcement in 2006 of its first successful nuclear test.
While North Korea outwardly struggles with isolation, famine, and economic collapse, the state expends considerable energy to produce ideological unity and pride among its population. The film A STATE OF MIND follows two young North Korean gymnasts as they prepare for the Mass Games, a massive state-sponsored event glorifying North Korea's leaders. This display of pageantry and governmental control involves tens of thousands of participants manipulating large colored cards and performing perfectly synchronized gymnastics routines. It is considered a great honor to participate in the Mass Games, and requires year-round practice.
PAK HYON SUN'S GRANDFATHER:
I've been mobilized to do construction work for 35 years. Building is hard work. But after the construction's finished, we're proud and we feel it was all worthwhile.
Our slogan is "One for All, All for One," and we really stand together as a group. If one of us does something, we all do it. Anything our group organizes, we all support unconditionally. With this kind of mentality, a work unit becomes one in body and spirit and tries to solve all its problems.
The mentality of teamwork and collective effort runs throughout North Korean society, whether in construction or in mass games. Organisation, discipline and collectivism are key elements of Mass Games, reflecting the ideology of the Party.
PAK HYON SUN'S GRANDFATHER:
So, because all our people stood up together and rebuilt our city, it became the first class city we have today.
The capital, Pyongyang, is a showcase for the nation. Throughout North Korea, residency is allocated by the Party. Pyongyang has two million residents and it is considered a privilege to live here.
Hyon Sun lives on the top floor of this apartment building in the central district of Pyongyang. She is an only child and lives with her parents and grandparents.
She has her own room, as do her parents. Her grandparents sleep on the living room floor.
Hers is a workers family -- her father is a driver for a government ministry and her grandfather is in construction. Neither her mother nor grandmother works outside the home.
All adults except the mother are members of the Party.
Throughout Hyon Sun's apartment are portraits of the Great Leader, Kim Il Sung and the General, Kim Jong Il.
In Pyongyang, state radio is piped into every apartment's kitchen -- listeners can turn the volume down, but not off. TV is state run, with one channel broadcasting for five hours a day during the week. An extra two channels broadcast on the weekends.