Sat, Dec 15, 2012 - Page 9 News List

North Korean life in the shadow of Kim Jong-il

As the country commemorates the anniversary of the former leader’s death, many North Koreans focus instead on finding enough to eat

By Tania Branigan  /  The Guardian, YANJI, China

However, it was nothing like the sea of tears that bathed the country when his father died.

“Kim Il-sung had a warm policy of including people. Kim Jong-il had a policy of cutting with knives,” she said.

Won has heard that Kim Jong-un studied abroad; she hopes, without much conviction, that North Korea might open and reform.

“We don’t really have energy to be interested,” she added. “We are too busy trying to survive and thinking of how we are going to get the money for our next meal.”

“I don’t know how people are in Pyongyang, where there is more to eat. But in the countryside, no one thinks about this stuff,” she said.

North Koreans who cross the border for the first time are shocked to hear open criticism of their leaders.

“I realized: You are brought up with obedience to the General. So you think, what will we do?” said Song, of her reaction to his death. “But after I came across and saw China, and watched South Korean television, I realized no one has to suffer as we do.”

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