This book is predominantly about foreign policy with North Korea. The reason is because the North Korean nation is so secretive. Nothing is known of the culture, or day to day lives of the North Korean people. Very little is known of the governing elite either or the decision making processes. As a result, this book by Oberdorfer, is mainly about how South Korea, the United States and to an extent China and Russia, have interacted with North Korea.
Both South Korea and North Korea are apparitions of the cold war. They became a divided nation after World War II when the United States and the Soviet Union divided Korea upon the Japanese surrender as two administrative zones with the 38th Parallel the dividing point. Oberdorfer writes:
Korea has been a country of the wrong size in the wrong place: large enough and well located enough to be of substantial value to those around it and this worth fighting and scheming over, yet too small to merit priority attention by more powerful nations on all but a few occasions.
In 1948 the administrative lines became nation states as neither the Soviet Union or the United States were prepared to give the zones up. The Soviets installed a former guerrilla leader as the North Korean leader; Kim Il Sung. The Soviets propped up the North Koreans until Gorbachev's Glasnost meant a change in policy until the Soviet Union collapsed.
Without that monetary support, the North Korean economy collapsed to half its subsidized output. North Korea was unable to feed its people they were surviving on less than 1,000 calories a day. As a result North Korea did crazy destabilizing military stunts in the hope of getting fertilizer to stop doing them. The obvious answer is open the economy, South Koreans have obesity issues.
Another facet of the North Korean system is how heavily the propaganda of the great leader is entrenched into the social and education system. Oberdorfer notes of Kim Il Sung's juche philosophy of martial nationalism:
In an explicity analogy to the human body, in juche the Great Leader is the brain that makes decisions and commands action, the Workers Party is the nerve system that mediates and maintains equilibrium between the brain and the body, and the people are the bone and muscle that implement the decisions and channel feedback to the Leader.
However bizarre this belief system seems to outsiders, North Koreans are systematically instructed in it and walled off from contrary views. The great unanswered question is how many North Koreans are true believers and how many have their private doubts.
Another crazy aspect of North Korea is that - as a political system - it believes the Korean War is not over despite evidence to the contrary. North Korea is permanently on a war footing. They are constantly building tunnels, more recently firing (or not firing) missiles over Japan, even one incident where US servicemen were killed in the DMZ while trimming a tree. North Korea also sends over submarines with spies in them that occasionally are discovered. Given the wealth and might of the United States and South Korea it defies common sense.
I have no doubt there is an internal logic to it all. The Kim Il Sung and his two sons have managed to hold power on the nations for approximately 60 years. They lived a life of luxury, importing high end liquors and Harley Davidson's while the people they are supposed to be leading starve. For a small extractive governing elite, even life in a crappy, bleak, run down and dumb downed nation is probably not that bad.
I don't know what will happen with North Korea. The gap in prosperity between the North and South is now so great that it would bankrupt South Korea if they took on a unification project like West Germany did with East Germany at the end of the Cold War. North Korea is going to have to get out of this on its own and it will most likely require the destruction of the Kim's and the elite that have run this part of Korea into a backward humanitarian nightmare.
Phoenix Eats Out
is the restaurant review site for Phoenix
and Old Town Scottsdale
which lists the modernist and contemporary restaurants, taverns and bars in the greater Phoenix area.
This is the list of the most popular restaurants pages from phoenixeatsout.com that have been viewed the most;
My personal favourite restaurants in Phoenix are AZ88
, Humble Pie
, Orange Table
, The Vig
and others coming close behind. View the complete list with the photo-journalistic style images on phoenixeatsout.com
Arizona is an outdoor state and has lots of hiking in the city and around the state. Phoenix is unusual for most cities in having several large mountains in the center of the city with great hiking. Anyone who comes to Phoenix has to do the Echo Canyon trail on Camelback
and the Summit Hike on Squaw Peak
or Piesta Peak. The views of the city, suburbs and surrounding mountains are wonderful from Camelback and Piesta Peak.
For more experienced hikers there is the McDowell Mountains in North Scottsdale that has several difficult and strenuous hikes in Tom's Thumb
and Bell Pass
. Alternatively, you can hike the highest mountain in Arizona. At 12,600 feet Humphrey's Peak
is a long and difficult hike.
Between 2004 and 2009 this site, southsearepublic.org
, was a constitutional blog based on scoop which focused on Australian and global constitutional issues.
One of the strongest aspects of it was the development of constitutions by those involved in the blog. These constitutions are the outcome:
The constitutions were built using principles from Montesquieu's separation of powers, the enlightnment's universal political rights and the ancient Athenian technology of sortition and choice by lot.
South Sea Republic started in 2004 as an Australian constitutional blog in 2004 based on scoop software. It was an immigrative outgrowth of Kuro5hin. The archives for each year since then;
The articles are ordered by views.
I am an Australian living in the United States as a permanent resident.
I am a software developer by trade and mostly work in Java and jump between middleware and front end.
I originally worked in the New York area of the United States in telecommunications before moving to Washington DC and
working in a mix of telecommunications, energy and ITS. I started my own software company before heading out to
Arizona and working with Shutterfly. Since then I have joined a startup in the Phoenix area and am thoroughly enjoying myself.
I do a lot of photography which I post on this website, but also on flickr. I have a photo-journalistic website which lists
the modernist and contemporary restaurants in phoenix. I have a site on the Australian Flying Corps [AFC]
which has been around since the 1990s and which I unfortunately
lost the .org URL to during a life event; however, it is under the www.australianflyingcorps.com
The AFC website has gone through several iterations since the 90s and the two most recent are Australian Flying Corps Archives(2004-2002)
Australian Flying Corps Archives(2002-1999)
which are good places to start.