Kim Jong-un Promises War


HOLLYWOOD, California -- Could James Franco and Seth Rogen start a war? Until yesterday, that notion seemed absurd. But now, Kim Jong-un, the supreme leader of North Korea, has promised 'merciless' retribution if Columbia Pictures releases the film The Interview, which stars both Franco and Rogen.

In a nutshell, The Interview is a comedy in which the two superstar's characters team up in order to assassinate Kim Jong-un. After realizing that the press are given unparalleled access to international dignitaries during media ops and conferences, the two plan to murder the North Korean leader during an interview. Admittedly, the nature of the movie is combative, and should be expected to draw criticism, especially from the real-life man who is caricatured and assassinated in the film.

But, is the movie an "act of war," as Kim Jong-un alleges? Few think so. But for years, North Korea has inflated their international ego with empty [yet still terrifying] threats. In March 2013, Kim Jong-un warned that he would attack parts of South Korea using nuclear weaponry which he did not yet possess. Since then, Kim Jong-un has proudly planned nuclear attacks on Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

Obviously, the film is controversial, even to many who do not sympathize with Kim Jong-un or his agenda. To me, The Interview is a more inflammatory version of Team America World Police, which featured marionette characters, including a crew of American special forces who penetrate North Korea in order to foil Kim Jong-il's fictitious attacks against America. A main difference between The Interview and its predecessor are that the new movie stars a Kim Jong-un lookalike, which is more provocative than a war between puppets. And also, the fictional plot in Team America is actually true-to-life today, where Kim Jong-un promises war against those who oppose or disrespect him, even Hollywood creatives.

Essentially, Kim Jong-un is playing a dangerous game of chicken with Columbia Pictures, which is almost certainly a lose-lose proposition for North Korea. Either Kim Jong-un engages the United States government in so-called catastrophic attacks, or Kim Jong-un will publicly undermine his brawny remarks with failure to follow through. Inaction, following such severe threats, will certainly show the limitations of Kim Jong-un, no matter his Herculean confidence. Both outcomes will augment doubts about Kim Jong-un's executive rationale and international image.

While I understand how the movie can be incendiary to a North Korea audience, I feel that making a movie, a piece of art, about assassinating a world leader is far less offensive than a national government guaranteeing nuclear warfare against the people of the world. Kim Jong-un has little room with which to point fingers, especially in terms of needless threats against oppositional nations.

It is unlikely that Columbia Pictures will withhold the release of The Interview. After all, the First Amendment protects free speech and those who practice it. But as human beings, I believe we should be promoting love and peace more than division and homicide, especially in the art we produce.

Follow Michael on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Contributing Editor: @MAndrewRansom

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The Hell Holes of North Korean Gulags


 LONDON, England - Today Amnesty International released a report claiming the North Korean camps for political prisoners are expanding in size.  A political prisoner in an interview recounted a horrific tale of histhree-year internment in the sprawling camp.

There is a global pandemic of human rights abuses from post conflict rape of women in Africa to collateral death of innocent people at the hands ofhomicide bombers of all persuasions. However, the systematic and organized machinery of suppression practiced in these North Korean internment camps recall the forced labor camp system of the former USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) known as The Gulag.

The Gulag camp system was officially created on "April 25, 1930 and claims have been made that it was dismantled on January 13, 1960.  Wherever there is political oppression, lack of freedom of speech, and dissidence is viewed as sedition the conditions exist for internment camps to operate with relative impunity.

More than 14 million people passed through the Gulag from 1929 to 1953, with a further 6 to 7 million being deported and exiled to remote areas of the USSR. According to a 1993 study of incomplete archival Soviet data, a total of 1,053,829 people died in the Gulag from 1934 to 1953.

More complete data puts the death toll for this same time period at 1,258,537, with an estimated 1.6 million casualties from 1929 to 1953.These estimates exclude those who died shortly after their release but whose death resulted from the harsh treatment in the camps;such deaths happened frequently.The total population of the camps varied from 510,307 (in 1934) to 1,727,970 (in 1953).

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Published: 4 May 2011 (Page 2 of 2)

Most Gulag inmates were not political prisoners, although the political prisoner population was always significant. People could be imprisoned in a Gulag camp for crimes such as petty theft, unexcused absences from work, and anti-government jokes.About half of the political prisoners were sent to Gulag prison camps without trial; official data suggest that there were more than 2.6 million imprisonment sentences in cases investigated by the secret police, 1921-1953."(Source: Wikipedia)

Amnesty International asserts that there are currently about 200,000 people in the North Korean prison camps.  Critics counter that thesatellite photos do not prove that the areas identified actually show four of the six prison camps believed to exist in North Korea’s South Pyongyang, South Hamkyung and North Hamkyung provinces.

However, the former prisoner, Kyoung-il Jeong, who spent three years in the notorious Yodok prison camp, told western media: "The main reason for the deaths [in the prisons] was malnutrition. With such poorly prepared food people couldn't stand the harsh labor and died."

Kyoung-il Jeong testified that prisoners were fed 200 grams of corn gruel per daily and were often tossed into a cube-shaped "torture cell" where it was impossible to either stand or lie down.  Those caught trying to escape were often executed.

"Seeing people die happened frequently – every day." Jeong said. "When an officer told me to, I gathered some people and buried the bodies. After receiving extra food for the job, we felt glad rather than feeling sad."

"North Korea can no longer deny the undeniable," Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia Pacific director, said in a statement. "Hundreds of thousands of people exist with virtually no rights, treated essentially as slaves, in some of the worst circumstances we’ve documented in the last 50 years.”

Like the Gulags before them North Korean prison camps have been operating since the 1950s and can be divided into two types:  "total control zones" where inmates are detained forever without any proper trials; and "revolutionary zones" where conditions are more lenient.

As America wages war in Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan it seems to have minimal bandwidth to tackle the internal human rights abuses inside North Korea's borders.  It seems instead to have chosen to invests its efforts in aligning international pressure to force the North Korean government to dismantle its nuclear arms program.

It is for this reason that organizations like Amnesty International play such a vital role in keeping human rights abuses in the forefront of our awareness.  I hope that you will take the time to view this powerful video interview with Kyoung-il Jeong.


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