It's So Ronery In the Dark, With Negative GDP Growth


We've all seen the photo comparing North Korea's literal darkness to the bright lights of South Korea below: 

At The Washington Post, Brad Plumer has another striking illustration of the country's total economic failure—a graph showing the country's decades-long gross domestic product slump in relation to its neighbor's sure and steady growth. What's amazing is that Kim Jong-il actually managed to wreck the country's already miserable economy even further after he came power. The nosedive you see starting around 1994 follows Kim Jong-Il's rise:

Much more from Reason on Kim Jong-Il and his legacy of terror as North Korea's dictator here

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  1. If only he'd put the right people in charge like Obama.


  2. Wow, North Korea is amateur astronomy paradise! Well it would be if they had telescopes... and food.

    1. Nah, with a lack of food you can't accidentally get grease on the lens! Food is a distraction.

    2. I was just thinking the same thing. The star gazing must be amazing assuming you're not distracted by the hunger pangs.

      1. Just be sure to wash the tree sap off your fingers before using the telescope you can't afford because you live in a communist workers' paradise.

        1. Not having a pesky roof helps too.

    3. In 1962-63 Korea had a midnight to 4a.m. curfew. The whole country was blacked out and the sky at night was amazing. It almost made walking guard worthwhile. Note: I enlisted at five years old believing I was signing up for Cub Scouts.

  3. There is some prime real estate to be had if N. Korea opens up.

    1. That's prime gamboling room, you propertrietrist!

    2. I don't understand how so many people starved to death there, when you consider all the opportunities for gamboling.

      1. ...just like what you support.

        They'll kill Non-State society people, just like you would.

        But now we see how an ag-city-state looks like when it's privately owned by one person.

        Kinda makes a fellow glad for all that government spending so the little shit won't try to own the whole peninsula for himself.

    3. The Landmines will ruin your gamboling schemes as well as your realty development.

  4. But see -- those dark skies are why North Korea is such a center for astronomical research.

  5. But THEY don't have any problems with their people getting fat! Maybe we should look to emulate them for the betterment of our nation's health.

    1. And everyone has free health care.

      Like chimps in suits, that one never gets old.

      1. Canada and North Korea are so much the same, right, John?

        1. Says the shitbag who equates the Koch brothers with Kim Jong Il.

          Keep up the good work, Rather. Someday Epi will realize how much he really wants you.

  6. In the 1960s the consensus among all of the smart right thinking people was that the North with its marvelously planned economy and most of the peninsula's natural resources was the place of the future. No kidding. In fact, several hundred thousand ethnic Koreans left Japan and moved to North Korea out of a sense of patriotic duty. Needless to say, all of their fates were tragically grim.

    1. Wound up in cooking pot?

      1. Worked to death in a gulag or shot. They were all immediately suspect by the regime because they had lived abroad. They were all doomed from the day they arrived.

        1. Horrifying stuff.

        2. It's grim and undeserved, but damn it's one hell of a lesson in why you don't do anything based on patriotic duty alone. Spare a thought for logic now and again.

        3. Then they wound up in cooking pot, yes?

    2. John, did you ever read the book about the Americans who moved to the USSR in the Depression and all wound up in the gulag? I can't remember its name right now. Most colossal bummer I've ever read.

      1. No. But i have heard of it. They build a Ford factory I think. This is a similar story.

        1. It's called The Forsaken. Here it is.

      2. A German physicist (Fritz Houtermanns) emigrated to Russia in the late '30s; hated the Nazis, loved communism.
        He was repatriated out of prison at the beginning of the 'friendship pact', teeth beaten out, broken bones never set correctly.
        Never publicly admitted his stupidity, AFAIK.

  7. Good old North Korea, the epitome of leftist social engineering and centralized government planning.

    Hopefully the poor miserable people in that hellhole can get a little taste of freedom, but I wouldn't bet on it happening soon.

    1. Canada and Sweden are so like North Korea, right, Mike?

  8. What about footprints?

  9. North Korea is a model of sustainability.

  10. Don't you mean "Glowth"?

    C?aw, not craw!

      1. ROR!

  11. Shouldn't there be some light visible from their burning the furniture for heat?

    1. The last stick of furniture was burned in the 1990s. And I went to a war game in Korea in February once. That place is unimaginably cold. The wind comes right off of Siberia. I can't imagine anything worse than sitting in Korea in the winter starving to death with no heat or power in that kind of cold.

      1. Then imagine having sex with Nancy Pelosi. Hypothermia is frickin Shangri-la by comparison.

        1. Then imagine having sex with Nancy Pelosi.


          1. Then try NOT imagining sex with Nancy Pelosi. Go on, keep trying. I'll fetch the bucket.

        2. Then imagine having sex with Nancy Pelosi. Hypothermia is frickin Shangri-la by comparison.

          Courtesy of SugarFree:

          1. Thanks SugarFree, I was preparing lunch. After reading that I just turned the stove off and turned out the kitchen light.

          2. +5 eggplant is better.

    2. They ran out of that a LONG time a go.

  12. The nosedive you see starting around 1994 follows Kim Jong-Il's rise

    What are you talking about? The "after" picture clearly shows scattered campfires in the north, that weren't there in the "before."

    1. The rumor has always been the Il whack Sung. The old man figured out that junior had wrecked the economy. Sung planned to make a come back and reassert himself. During a heated argument with Il in his vacation home, Sung mysteriously ended up dead.

      1. On 8 July 1994, at age 82, Kim Il-sung collapsed from a sudden heart attack. After the heart attack, Kim Jong-il ordered the team of doctors who were constantly at his father's side to leave, and for the country's best doctors to be flown in from Pyongyang. After several hours, the doctors from Pyongyang arrived, and despite their efforts to save him, Kim Il-sung died.

        Well, that seems suspicious.

        "Ladies and gentlemen, the Pharoah...suddenly died!"

    2. Wrong graph.

      1. Well, they might be funeral pyres, but I presumed they would just eat the dead.

        1. Not without cooking them first!

    3. Those are probably the new nuclear facilities and missile sites.

  13. I'm seeing conflicting reports on the food aid that we were about to send to the military dictatorship's extended families. Does anyone know if we're still going to bribe the ruling elite to bring them to the nuclear table?

    1. We will bribe them and continue to prop up their regime. No one, not South Korea or China or the US actually wants the place to collapse, too expensive, bad for business.

      1. What business? The 'annoy Japan' business?

        1. Unification would break South Korea. It would be like unifying Germany times four. If the place falls apart it will cost Japan, South Korea and China a fortune.

          1. I fail to see the downside.

            1. Me either. But I am not paying for it.

              1. Oh, you'll pay, John...

          2. I can't imagine a Korean reintegration would go nearly as smooth as "four times worse than Germany". East Germany might have been a statist dystopia, but at least its people weren't in their third generation of malnutrition. I have this fear that the first troops into a collapsed North Korea will face something like the troops who liberated Nazi concentration camps.

      2. At some point, there won't be anyone left in the North, or atleast not many to care for...would unification make sense then for atleast the resources?

        1. The land up there is generally worthless. North Korea got the short end of the stick.

          Maybe the greenies could turn it into some kind of wilderness area. The DMZ hasn't been touched by human activity in decades. (Sodesky might demand the right to gambol about there, though.)

  14. Good alt-text Pete!

  15. Trey and Matt's Kim Jong Il dialect was funny in the context of that film's extremely broad satire. Reason should probably back off the "ronery" stuff, though. Out of context it seems a bit unnecessarily racist.

    1. As long as the topic of the article is Kim Jong Il, the "ronery" stuff is not racist. The Shining Star of Paektu Mountain should be mocked, denigrated, and discredited at every opportunity.

    2. asians don't count as a race.

  16. In order to keep the transition smooth, they will be keeping the same official haircuts. For now.

  17. "Ronery?" REALLY? Bad Asian mispronounciation in type? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Will you have a step-and fetchit representation of the Congressional Black Caucus? How about Shylock for the peace now party in the Knesset? SHAME!

    1. The liberal PC police have found us! OH NOES

    2. Oh, Stafford. Go to school and learn something.

    3. So either you haven't seen the movie, or... the alternative is too horrible to contemplate.

      1. Team Blue is sensitive to hurtful stereotypes, and they have no problem telling inbred, bigoted white people about it.

        1. Is that it or do they just have no effin' sense of humor?

      2. or... the alternative is too horrible to contemplate.

        I assume you mean that he's at a junior college?

        1. Well, CUNY, so yeah, a junior college.

    4. Let me get you a fainting couch, dear.

    5. Fok you Hans Brix!

    6. I have an extra strand of pearls for you to clutch, if you need one...

    7. You mean Conglessionar Brack Caucus and Shyrock!

    8. Gregoire? You wouldn't be related to the WA governor by any chance? Maybe her hubby, AKA the First Gentleman of Washington State?

  18. I'm sure it's been linked a thousand times already but it's always worth another posting for those who haven't seen it, the VBS TV guide to North Korea.

    Getting into North Korea was one of the hardest and weirdest processes VICE has ever dealt with. After we went back and forth with their representatives for months, they finally said they were going to allow 16 journalists into the country to cover the Arirang Mass Games in Pyongyang. Then, ten days before we were supposed to go, they said, "No, nobody can come." Then they said, "OK, OK, you can come. But only as tourists." We had no idea what that was supposed to mean. They already knew we were journalists, and over there if you get caught being a journalist when you're supposed to be a tourist you go to jail. We don't like jail. And we're willing to bet we'd hate jail in North Korea. But we went for it. The first leg of the trip was a flight into northern China. At the airport, the North Korean consulate took our passports and all of our money, then brought us to a restaurant. We were sitting there with our tour group, and suddenly all the other diners left and these women came out and started singing North Korean nationalist songs. We were thinking, "Look, we were just on a plane for 20 hours. We're jet-lagged. Can we just go to bed?" but this guy with our group who was from the LA Times told us, "Everyone in here besides us is secret police. If you don't act excited then you're not going to get your visa. So we got drunk and jumped up onstage and sang songs with the girls. The next day we got our visas. A lot of people we had gone with didn't get theirs. That was our first hint at just what a freaky, freaky trip we were embarking on?
    ? VICE Founder Shane Smith

    The balls that these guys displayed in pulling off this video series without getting thrown in a gulag just baffles me. If only we had more journalists like this, perhaps the walls would come tumbling down sooner.

    1. I watched a show on the National Geographic Channel where these people had gone on a trip giving free dental services to North Koreans and secretly taped a bunch of stuff. Way cool video. But I am not sure I would do it. I would imagine that video got all of their handlers sent to the gulag or shot. I would feel terrible having that on my head.

      1. The end, where all the patients praise Kim Jong Il for curing them, is the fucking creepiest thing I've ever seen in my life.

        1. Sadly, that's the kind of crap you have to do in these awful cult-of-personality dictatorships if you want to continue living.

      2. Dude, the handlers are NK government operatives. The more shot, the better.

    2. The guys at Vice are flat fucking insane in the best possible way. They do some of the best journalism around when they get motivated, and the NK pieces they've done are amazing.

      1. Hunter Thompson fucking insane? Because that's the only "fucking insane" that entertains!

  19. It sure looks freakishly dark in Occupierland...

    1. Ah yes, the great NK light bulb ban of 1988. See how little CO2 they are giving off!? That's the future.

  20. I keep waiting for someone high up in the military, with knowledge of the outside world, to seize power and transition to a less murderous tyranny.

    1. The smart ones don't make it past Lieutenant. If one slips through the cracks, he's shot.

  21. Since South Korea's economy is doing so well and since they spend less percentage of GDP on 'defense" then the USA does this mean that the US can pull its troops out of South Korea and stop spending tax money on South Korean defense? After all, the USA is deep in debt and its getting deeper every minute the US wastes money on defending a rich country like South Korea from a basket case like North Korea.

    1. Moocher Korea is best Korea!

    2. We might want to wait a day or two.

  22. My (going-to-be-ex-) husband eulogized his mother today. He spoke truthfully. They are alot alike. He talked about how they didn't expect or seek happiness. They wished only to grind through the tasks at hand. That really has been the sad story. I'm closing the book now.

    1. Jesus Marilyn, your ex is a rat bastard and a rotten son. I think the women probably had some happy times and did a few things right. Hell even Hitler had a girlfriend. And unless she was a serial killer, she deserved to have people say nice things about her at her funeral.

      Now beyond that, just WTF does that have to do with anything and why should anyone on here care?

      1. C'mon, John. Are you complaining about an off-topic comment? Really?

      2. Maybe she's just venting a bit. It sounds as if she has had a rough morning. Plus it isn't as if no one else on this site ever just shoots their wad, so to speak.

    2. I am sorry to hear about your mother-in-law.

    3. I'm closing the book now.

      That's all you can do, Marilyn. Now you go live the life you want. Also, just curious, are you a regular Reason reader, or did you just come here to anonymously let off some steam?

  23. But the disparity between rich and poor is lower.

    1. North Korea is an egalitarian paradise!

      There's no rich people to envy!

      It's Heaven on Earth!

    2. Exactly, and see how much better thier lives are? Oh, wait...

  24. Doltish imperialist stooges! Your satellite image only captured our great nation's preemptive and indefinite ceremonial dimming of lights in observance of the passing of Dear Leader, who is a perfect incarnation of the appearance that a leader should have.

  25. It's not amazing that he wrecked an already miserable economy even further, if you grasp the mind-boggling scale of the destructive force that is collectivism.

    Collectivism killed over 100 million people during the 20th century, so crushing the economy an already destitute nation is merely a warm-up act by comparison.

    1. Rough estimates of famine deaths partly attributable to collectivist agricultural policies in 20th century:

      Holodomor 7 million
      Cambodia 5 million
      North Korea 6 million
      Vietnam 1.5 million
      China 15 million
      Russia (1922) 10 million

  26. Peter,

    Can we have a lightly more out-of-date next time? Only 8 years out of date, what is up?

  27. There was a documentary from an American journalist a while back showing 'North Koreans grovelling and in front of a picture of President Kim, after foreign doctors fixed their eyes, thanking him for the miracle that happened. It was truly, truly, disturbing to watch.

    1. Yeah, it was a Lisa Ling deal. It was incredible.

  28. Slightly OT, but I went to China right after Deng Xiaoping died. Pretty much the only thing on TV was video of his widow sobbing and sprinkling his ashes out of an airplane, on an endless loop. I wonder what they'll show on NK TV?

    1. The entire country sobbing as the stae funeral marches by?

      Just spitballing here.

      1. I hope the state funeral will include a stadium-size flip card anime of his life and adventures.

        They are boss at that shit.

        1. Don't they spend some horrific amount on Arirang? Something like 1% of their GDP? They better be boss at it.

          1. 1% of their GDP? I think my car is worth more than that.

            1. You drive a Trabant?

              1. I have a Yugo gathering rust in my back yard...

      2. Sobbing that they can't adequately express their...true feelings.

    2. I remember reading once how there was a train crash in Korea, the state broadcaster was say the people were supposedly rescuing pictures of Kim Ju Il in the burning wreck (because who would want to save fellow passengers, when there are portraits of dear leader to be saved).

      1. The cameras always fail to pan to the guns trained on the people.

  29. People are in public mourning.
    Clearly they know they are now going to be thrust into a capitalistic hellhole.

    1. Let me add: Where the almighty dollar is king.

      1. As opposed to tree-bark. And dirt.

    2. They might have to endure the horror of income disparity.

  30. Just imagine if the USA had a carbon footprint that small. Come on, Obama, WE CAN DO IT!

  31. I am sincerely curious - why can't we give the green light to the Chinese occupying the North, then cut a deal to get both of our countries' forces out of the peninsula after the North's government has been reformed up at least to the Chinese level?

    1. Wait...what!?

      I don't think that will work. the precedent alone would be terrible. Should we "give" Afghanistan to Russia if they can't behave?

      1. My reference to a green light means "we won't go to war if they occupy their client state and put in some better people." Probably impractical.

    2. Pretty sure China doesn't want to carry the economic load of trying to feed the NK population.
      They have enough problems already.

      1. One of the Chinese fears concerning a North Korean collapse is a flood of refugees.

        They already have a refugee problem from North Korea; if the regime collapses and loses control, many more people will flee.

        1. Maybe we can send Bachmann there with plans for a fence.

  32. Speaking of the environment, North Korea is a prime example of the environmental devastation caused by a subsistence economy: The trees have been stripped from the land, resulting in floods: the intense working of the fields by peasant laborers produces much less food and leaves the soil subject to erosion; the need to produce food at all costs means that wild flora and fauna are wiped out.

    Only a rich country can afford to care for the environment. If you want an environmental hell, create an economic one first.

    1. So, apparently, gamboling has been bad for the environment?

      1. No, there are still to many people per square mile for White idiot's gamboling fantasy. And they keep trying to survive by planting things. But don't worry I'm sure they'll kill off enough people soon and the remaining ones will see the errors of the agricultural way.

    2. Ironically, one of the most well-preserved and untouched natural ecosystems in the world is the Korean Demilitirized Zone, which because of the heavily fortified borders on both sides has become a sanctuary for Korean peninsula wildlife such as the rare Korean tiger, various birds, and all sorts of fauna.

      1. I'd argue that it is 'reconstituted'; that area was pretty 'clear-cut' during the war.
        It's a measure of how quickly a wrecked ecosystem comes back, contrary to claims by eco-whackos.

      2. Another interesting one is the area around Chernobyl.

        1. I'll bet it would be. Any links or suggestions on print?

  33. I wish people would stop saying "Kim Jong-il actually managed to wreck the economy." That's B.S. He inherited a crisis from his predecessor and just didn't realize how bad it was.

    1. So Barry O is just following precedent?

      1. Yep, it's "Bush's Fault" (tm)

  34. Do a Google maps/Google Earth satellite image of Pyongyang sometime - creepy as fuck.

  35. *bring bring* Hello, capitalism? It's socialism, you win.

  36. Some stoopid, from MediaMatters' comment kindergarten:

    the way mockery of Kim has filled the Internet since his passing is directly comparable to the way [Limbaugh] was pi$$ing on Teddy Kennedy's grave within hours of HIS death being announced...

    Freudian slip?

    1. Some moar stoopid, from the HuffPo commenter daycare center:

      1. He was just like Ron Pual!

    2. I'm so sad today, I can't even muster a cogent "Christ-fag" reference.

  37. WTF did I spend all that money for spending that telescope up in space when I could have just put it in the middle of Norkville?

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