A Northern Korean Diary
In this documentary, Austrian journalist Luco Fazio takes us on a tour of North Korea. Fazio, who has visited the country seven times in 15 years, includes some footage from prior visits.
Although Fazio is always accompanied by an official “minder,” he observes obvious trends in North Korean society that are hard to conceal. The first is the steady growth of a North Korean middle class that is increasingly independent of state authority. This is clear from a growing cohort of well-off North Korean women adopting western dress, a boom in supermarkets featuring western foods and other luxury items and even occasional concerts featuring western artists.*
In North Korea, blue collar workers earn an average salary of 80 euros a month in addition to their food ration. A combination of severe western sanctions and the loss of agricultural land to drought and flooding has led to chronic malnutrition for many residents. According to Fazio, this is reflected in the shorter stature of North Koreans when compared to their South Korean counterparts.
The most interesting part of the film is a brief visit he pays to a Russian Orthodox Church and his interview with its Korean-born priest.
Where Fazio is allowed to speak to ordinary workers, they all express a strong desire to see North Korea reunified with South Korea.
At present, the US is determined to block Korean reunification (which will significantly strengthen China both economically and politically) by any means necessary. This is likely the real reason behind the current western sanctions regime. See Down the Old Memory Hole: How Bush Jr Quashed the Movement for Korean Unification
*Up until a few years ago, western music could only be found in karaoke bars catering to western tourists – and North Koreans found with South Korean films or CDs could be sent to concentration camps.