North Korea

That "laid-back, leafy feel" of Starvation-Inducing Totalitarian Communism


There's never been a better time to see children learn how to shoot drooling, hook-nosed American imperialists in the face! just ran a fun interview with Contributing Editor Michael C. Moynihan on the less-fun subject of totalitarian-apologia in travel guides to places like Cuba, Afghanistan, and North Korea. As if to advertise the piece, here is one of the most remarkably terrible things you'll read all year: New America Foundation fellow Parag Khanna's enthusiastic Hermit-Kingdom travel recommendation at, which actually begins with the sentence, "There's never been a better time to visit North Korea." Further excerpts: 

If you're willing to part with your mobile phone at Pyongyang customs (hint: you have no choice, but they'll give it back to you on departure), you'll clear the airport with an efficiency that puts New York's JFK to shame. […]

Most of those labeled defectors into China are actually economic migrants […]

As one wanders through lively street arcades full of roller-skaters and volleyball games, one has to hope that Confucian communism can make enough space for capitalism such that the burden of isolation falls on the regime rather than society. More tourism, mobile phones, and industrial joint ventures all help. One of the most promising is the Chinese funded special economic zone of Rason at the intersection of Russia and China, a warm water port that would serve all three countries. A decade from now, it could be North Korea's Shenzhen. […]

The nation's capital, the largest of its half-dozen large cities, feels like an Asian Kiev. Like Ukraine's capital, it has broad avenues with revolutionary monuments and fountains, but also a laid-back, leafy feel. […]

Jong-Un has an opportunity now his failed Arab counterparts missed: to lead the rehabilitation of his country and enjoy his remaining decades not as a pariah but a statesman, not feared by his people but admired by them. Rather than being banned from most international travel he could enjoy basketball games in Europe as he did during high school in Switzerland. […]

So come to North Korea, and come soon: the Pyongyang International Film Festival takes place in September with documentaries and avant garde movies being screened from a dozen countries.

Now wash that foul sauce down with the Kennedy/Moynihan exchange below:

NEXT: Moviegoing Drops to Post-9/11 Levels

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  1. North Korea: Come for the fun, stay for the harmonious crushing of your soul.

  2. I honestly wish this guy defects. It is what he deserves. That is the most sickening thing I have ever heard. To call people who leave North Korea “economic migrants” like they are Salvadorans coming to New York to wash dishes is repulsive. Where the Jews who fled Europe just “economic migrants”?

    1. I think the best solution for the world is to send all progressives there, where they can bask in the full glory of utopia with their comrades. After all, PRNK is the finest example to be found of fully implemented socialism on this planet. The socialists say that if only we did more socialism, that it will work. They can get all they want there.

      I mean, if there was a truly Libertarian country out there, I would defect and move there. Everything I own would be on a container out of here tomorrow. So I am calling the bluff of all the socialists, move to PRNK, you pussies, or STFU.

      1. The closest thing to a true libertarian country in my life time was Hong Kong before the Chinese got their filthy paws on it. And if it were still the same and someone offered me a chance to live there, I would go in a heart beat. But none of these assholes would ever really move to Venezuela much less Cuba or North Korean.

        1. Hong Kong is still one of the best places to do business. My son in law goes there a few times a year to buy stuff for his busines and loves it there.

          None of these assholes will move to those countries because there are not any productive capitalists there for them to leech off of. Without evil capitalists to steal from, socialism fall down, go boom.

          1. You can’t have “to each according to his need” without “from each according to his ability”.

          2. HK is still pretty damned awesome.

          3. Hong Kong is still pretty much free, though hardly a libertarian ideal. The WOD is still alive and well, for example.

            However, freedom of press is still alive and well in HK. A few years ago, I bought Jung Chang’s “Mao: The Unknown Story” in HK. A more damning biography you will not find.

      2. Hey, it sounds like Pyongyang’s got roads and green spaces. What more can they want?

        Sidenote: What’s with the author saying “more cell phones” will help, after pointing out that cell phones are confiscated at customs?

        1. And free health care. Don’t forget the free health care.

          1. Free health care there means that if you are a soldier we will try to keep you fed enough to stay alive. Otherwise, you can all starve equally, because fuck you, that’s why.

      3. NTU founder, James Dale Davidson thinks Brazil is our best hope:…..e+davidson

        1. I thought Brazil was being run by some nitwit populist leftist these days? Brazil would be great. Great climate, great scenery, and an endless supply of beautiful women.

          1. Don’t believe that shit for a second, John. Dilma is supposed to be this big commie, but she is actually following the same policies of her predecessor, which is more pro-business. They have a lot of problems still, corruption, stupid policies, same as us. But the economy is booming, and opportunity abounds if you have a little capital and know the right folks to help you navigate the antiquated and cumbersome bureaucracy.

            But I can tell you this. I have never felt as free anywhere as I do when I am there. You can walk down the street drinking a beer. People do not get thrown into prison there for smoking pot. You just feel more free there.

            I love Brazil and I am seriously thinking about retiring there. We own a condo there 3 blocks from one of the best beaches in the country.

            Don’t take my word for it, go there, then tell me what you think.

            My wife and I were watching one of the crazy Brazilian comedies Saturday on Globo, and they were making fun of their presidente. It was freaking hilarious. They were portraying her as this really stupid chief of transportation.

            1. I also know several libertarians there and I don’t know many people there yet. The L movemnent there is growing very quickly, maybe more so than here.

            2. I have never been but would like to go. My best friend from high school does missionary work down there all of the time. He is a Christian conservative and absolutely loves the place. He generally goes to the Northeast Coast. He says it is damned near paradise.

              1. The northeast coast brings a smile to my face and brighetens up this otherwise shitty Monday morning. Although the weather here in Maryland is stellar this morn.

                Our place is on the northeast coast. Rio is beautiful, but the beaches in the northeast are better. Place in Nordeste to see first, at least in Pernambuco:

                Porto de Galinhas

                Maria Farinha


                Those are all in Pernambuco. I haven’t been to Salvador, except the airport, or further north, like Natal or Fortaleza, but I love Recife and all of the surrounding small towns and beaches. I could die happy there sitting on the beach with a barrel of Devassa tropical lager on ice and some freshly shucked and spiced oysters on the half shell.

                1. Rio is absolutely one of the most beautiful places in the world. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most dangerous.

                  Salvador is better. Macei?, Alagoas, Brazil is nice also.

                  But it’s not cheap to be a foreigner in any of these places.

        2. That would be fucking ironic. Libertarians moving to Brazil because the U.S. is “Brazil”.

      4. Right. The progressives’ answer to everything is a reductio ad Somaliam; why can’t we respond in kind with a reductio ad Koream Septentrionalem?

        1. Because to the Proglodytes, any amount of freedom, no matter how miniscule, amounts to anarchy.

      5. I thought NK’s philosophy was “military first, everything else second”. We should send neocons there and send Democrats to Detroit. I’m not sure which would be crueler, though.

  3. Most of those labeled defectors into China are actually economic migrants

    So, they don’t have a principled, informed, philosophical objection to the regime. They only fled because they were starving. Thus, North Korea isn’t all that bad. Got it.

    1. Yeah, this argument strikes me as making the opposite one from what the author intended. Unless he’s just trolling.

  4. FTW? Is this guy insane? I have seen 3 documentaries on North Korea where the people actually risked their freedom or even their lives by sneaking in video cameras and filming. What I saw on those videos in no way reflected what this apparent commie sympathizer is spewing. There are also a few books written by those ‘economic immigrants’ and although I have only read reviewer summaries of the books, it was enough to know that they do not exactly confirm what Moynihan is saying.

    1. You may want to watch the video, Hype. Moynihan is arguing that communist dictatorships are bad. He was contrasting reality (communism is bad) with the quotes from some tool from named Parag Khanna who apparently thinks NorKo communism is pretty cool, except for cell phones.

      I would drink another cup of coffee, and re-read the article again. Cause as it is, you have reading comprehension fail.

      1. Yeah, I know, I got confused because I didn’t watch the video. It was Khanna that I was referring to, not Moynihan.

        Reading comprehension fail, no. Attention deficit, yes. I am straight now, man, Mmmmkay?

  5. It’s so easy for these people to tout the virtues of communism while hiding behind the shield of their American passports. I challenge every one of these hacks who honestly believes these systems are better, to renounce their American citizenship and by all means go enjoy the good times.

    1. I highly recommend picking up a copy of to read an extremely gripping account of just what happened to Americans who decided to do just that.

      In 1934, a photograph was taken of a baseball team. These two rows of young men look like any group of American ballplayers, except perhaps for the Russian lettering on their jerseys. The players have left their homeland and the Great Depression in search of a better life in Stalinist Russia, but instead they will meet tragic and, until now, forgotten fates. Within four years, most of them will be arrested alongside untold numbers of other Americans. Some will be executed. Others will be sent to “corrective labor” camps where they will be worked to death. This book is the story of lives-the forsaken who died and those who survived.

      1. I have been meaning to read that book. A lot of ethnic Koreans left Japan in the 1960s and went to North Korea out of patriotic fervor. None of them lasted more than a year or two before they were shot or locked up in the Gulag for being a foreign influence. Just tragic.

          1. There is one on Netflix about an eye doctor and his crew who were invited in to do catarct surgeries, and snuck in cameras and did a lot of filming. I can’t remember the name of it, but it’s maybe the most surreal thing I have evern seen.

            1. It was a Lisa Ling thing, I believe for Nat Geo.

              1. Inside North Korea?

        1. If you haven’t seen it yet, the Vice TV Guide to North Korea is great:


  6. Outside the capital, where information flow is more a one-way street, Western powers and responsible neighbors have to provide the young Kim with opportunities to change the hostile rhetoric.

    What? Why? They have plenty of opportunity any time they want it.

    1. No shit, firing on South Korean ships and firing rounds into their territory isn’t exactly very conducive with changing the hostile rhetoric. Moynihan is just another leftist who emotes instead of thinks.

      1. What? Moynihan didn’t write that, a dude named Parag Khanna did.

      2. The quoted section is from Parang Khanna, not Moynihan.

        1. Reload before posting, dammit!

        2. Yes, I stand corrected. Thanks.

          1. Just replace Moynihan with Khanna, and that is what I was referring to. What Moynihan said in the video is quite the opposite.

            1. I see you had a second cup of coffee, Hype. Good morning, sunhine! 😉

              1. I did. And I also watched the video. I did read the article with one eye open, haha.

  7. Never a better time to visit? What kind of horrible shithole was PRNK BEFORE the Korean War?

    Of course – traffic cops. There is that.

    1. DPRK – it’s got to be democratic if it’s in the name. Just like East Germany.

  8. one has to hope that Confucian communism can make enough space for capitalism such that the burden of isolation falls on the regime rather than society.

    What the fuck does that even mean?

    Run it through the translator again.

    1. It means that the selfless top men in Korea are going to bear the burden of continuing the communist system.

      1. How deluded do you have to be to think that the scum at the top of North Korea would give up any of their privileges?

        1. They deserve those privileges, though! After all, the Party Elite are the ones doing the heavy lifting of Central Planning. They are the ones that make the tough choices, so the Proletariat doesn’t have to be burdened with making tough choices. I thought you were a libertarian? You should understand the principle of a person getting to keep the fruit of their labor. Jeesh!

  9. Also I notice that the New America Foundation, despite calling itself a “nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy institute”, produces a lot of stuff that sounds pretty partisan to me.

    1. They’re probably pretty money-grubbing as well.

  10. Also highly recommended, Nothing to Envy, a book about a number of people who successfully fled North Korea in the past decade or so.

    1. The stories are a little older than a decade if I recall, I think that most of them left around the time the Soviets fell and Kim Il-Sung died in the early 90s (when the REAL starvation started). But it’s a gripping book, highly recommended.

  11. The comments aren’t much better than the article itself. Very little outrage, plus the usual bull$#!% about how it’s nice to get another perspective (even if that perspective is nuckin’ futz?).

    These articles come in handy when someone tells me that readers of CNN’s website are more sophisticated and intelligent than the readers of

    1. Actually, I’m glad to see the most popular comments are those that slam the piece for the disgusting propaganda that it is.

  12. Paging barfman, paging barfman…

  13. You can order DPRK stuff from Cafe Press off of their official web site .

    The site makes me think of what Nazi Germany would look like in the Internet era. Most telling is what’s omitted from the site and in the pictures. Being NK, you might want to open it in a browser that you can toast any stored data afterwards.

  14. In regard to Brazil (the nation, not the movie):

    In college, I had a history professor who had only recently returned to the US from a prolonged residence in Brazil. He said the Brazilians were ferociously independent. He also said the Brazilians didn’t really give a shit about the voting part of democracy, but they would riot in the streets with torches and pitchforks if their government tried to impose the draconian limits on personal freedom endured by Americans (in the seventies!) on a daily basis.

    1. He said the Brazilians were ferociously independent

      This is very true, trust me on this as I have first hand knowledge. I have been saying that when their government gets to the point of ours and starts wanting to control every facet of their existence and start trying to do things like put up plastic barricades around any little event where people are drinking beer, they are going to run into a BIG problem. It’s not going to happen, the Brazilians will fully rebel. Ths is just one reason why I love Brazil.

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