Myths & Misconceptions About North Korea | DEBUNKED


The democratic People’s Republic of Korea
(or North Korea as we’ve come to know it) has been sealed off from the outside world
since 1953. Not that that stopped the antics of its former
leader Kim Jong-il fueling an entire industry of sensational stories, which clogged the
internet and even mainstream media. But how much of what we’re told about North
Korea is actually true? I’m Stu, this is Debunked, where we sort
the truths from the myths and facts from the misconceptions. Okay, so let’s kick things off with a look
at a handful of reports you’ll probably have come across since Kim Jong-un became
supreme leader back in 2011. In 2012, a story circulated that Jong-un had
assassinated his pop star girlfriend, Hyon Song-wol, for making a sex tape. However,
a year after her reported murder… …she made a miraculous appearance on state
television, delivering a speech at a national art workers rally. She didn’t seem particularly
dishevelled, considering she’d just risen from the dead. That same year, a gruesome report spread like
wildfire that the Supreme Leader had executed his uncle, Jang Song-thaek, for insubordination.
It was claimed that Jang and five aides had been stripped naked and fed to one hundred
and twenty dogs. The ghastly method of execution, which was
said to have lasted an hour and been watched by North Korean officials, shocked the world.
BUT the original source of the story was later traced back to Chinese satirical blog: Tencent
Weibo. Jang was executed, but he was most likely killed by firing squad and not eaten
alive by ravenous dogs. Fast forward to 2015 and splashed across the
headlines of newspapers, radio and TV was yet more appalling news. This time Kim Jong-un
had apparently executed one of his Generals with an anti-aircraft gun for falling asleep
during an official state event. Notice the word apparently there. Because while the story was originally reported
by South Korea’s national intelligence agency, and then circulated across the globe, there
was just one problem – it wasn’t entirely accurate. They later changed the report to
say the General had been “purged” for “dozing off” and that they could not confirm
whether he was alive or not.The general’s death has since been confirmed – but the circumstances
surrounding it are still unclear. It’s believed he was executed after North Korean authorities
gathered information against him from wiretapped conversations. When a story is reasonably true it can be
polluted with so much misinformation that it draws into question the entire report. Michael Madden, Founder of North Korea Leadership
Watch says… Sadly for Mr. Madden though, it seems like
that well is far from dry because, in 2016, the news was plastered with headlines that
Kim Jong-un had eliminated another of his Generals – Ri Yong-gil… It took just a few
months for those headlines to be followed by these, when Ri was seen at the Worker’s
Party Conference. Moving on from the grisly reports of assassination
and execution, let’s take a look at the utterly ridiculous stories that have been
doing the rounds on the internet. In 2012, it was reported that an archaeologist
had discovered a unicorn lair in Pyongyang, the story was nicely accompanied with a photoshopped
horse. Everyone in the West thought it was hilarious, especially since this was an official
report released by the Korean Central News Agency. They even went as far as saying that
hidden inside the lair was one of the unicorns ridden by ancient Korean King Tongmyong. But this isn’t as crazy as the media would
have us think. The report has been assessed by Sung-Yoon Lee, a professor at Tufts University,
who believes it to actually be a symbolic piece of propaganda… With North Korea’s official news agencies
releasing symbolic, but not necessarily true stories like this to the rest of the world,
it’s hard to establish what’s fact and what’s fiction in the reclusive state. So
let’s take a look at the long standing and more widely held beliefs about the country. Scenes like this… …have strengthened the perception that North
Korea is a nation that functions as one in total uniformity, but Jieun Baek, author of
North Korea’s Hidden Revolution, reminds us that the North Korean people are just that…
people. Of the thirty thousand defectors that have
now settled in South Korea, around 80% of them come from two of the nine provinces inside
North Korea. Do they all have the same beliefs and thoughts?
Hardly. Baek’s research has shown that they’re
like any group of people, displaying a wide variety of opinions. You might be thinking, sure, of course the
defectors show signs of protest and disagree with the regime, but North Koreans citizens
have a history of challenging the regime. We’re talking failed coups, assassination
attempts, and even riots – we just don’t hear about it. As far back as the Korean War itself in the
1950s, there was a rebel group of twenty two thousand North Koreans who fought against
Kim il-Sung – the original supreme leader. And these sort of incidents aren’t exactly
ancient history, in the 1980s during a period of severe economic hardship there were numerous
clashes between the military and civilians over food shortages. These disputes ended
in the deaths of thousands of farmers, laborers and political prisoners. Things got even worse for the regime just
a decade later, when the military themselves turned on the Kim family and plotted to assassinate
key members, with the intention of putting General O Kuk-ryol in charge. In the end,
the General proved too loyal and reported the coup to the authorities. He remains a
key figure in the current regime. But not all forms of protest in North Korea
are violent. The new millennium also brought with it a new type of subversion, with smuggled information from the outside
world entering through forbidden goods like cells phones, CDs and DVDs. It’s also reported
that corrupt officials often overlook these contraband items and have even assisted defectors
in escaping to China. So while scenes like this might imply some
kind of obedient hive mind, life in North Korea is more fractured than the news would
have us believe. Another problem with a lot of the information
we get about the secretive state is that it relies on the testimonies of defectors – who,
presumably, don’t really like the regime too much. But issues with defectors’ stories run far
deeper than that, as journalist Jiyoung Song found out after
studying such testimonies for over 15 years. For a start, defectors are paid for their
stories and, according to the South Korean Ministry of Unification, these fees can range
from fifty to five hundred dollars per hour. The more shocking, exclusive and emotional
the story, the greater the fee. Basically, defectors have an incentive to exaggerate
or simply make things up. Probably the most famous example of this is
in the best-selling book ‘Escape from Camp 14’ – the story of Shin Dong-hyuk, who was
the only person born in the gulag to have escaped. Nevertheless, when Shin’s father
claimed the stories were false, Shin confessed that some of his accounts were inaccurate. There is no doubt that North Korea has committed
horrific human rights abuses, but examples like this raise questions about how reliant
we should be on defectors’ testimonies. Choi Sung-chol, from the Korean Nationality
Residents Association, explains that inconsistencies in defectors stories are hard to identify
because… “Most North Koreans do not worry about small
factual mistakes as long as the big picture that North Korea violates human rights is
right.” This brings us onto the misconception that
North Koreans only leave the country by defecting and escaping the regime. Although the West
may have little to do with the country, many parts of Asia and even parts of Europe do
have business with them. The so called ‘Hermit State’ has logging
projects going on in Russia and construction projects in Qatar. While over in Mongolia,
North Koreans work producing goods for clothing brands like Australian surf company Rip Curl.
Thousands actually work in China, many in North Korean restaurants. Heading further
west, you can find many are employed in Polish shipyards, construction sites and farms. And
if you ever pay a visit to Angkor Wat in Cambodia, then the museum there was built by a North
Korean construction company. Each of these workers are believed to be hand
picked from families that are loyal to the state, but even these loyalists have been
know to defect. It’s estimated that there are fifty to one
hundred thousand North Koreans who have been sent to work abroad. Although it is claimed
by human rights campaigners, that ninety percent of their earnings are sent back to the regime,
after having worked ten to twelve hour shifts and a six day week. A claim which was refuted by the North Korean
Embassy in Warsaw who stated in July 2016… “This is all nonsense.”
“Nobody is taking (their salaries), they work and make money for themselves.” But according to a UN report from 2015, these
overseas workers are big business for the North Korean state, earning the regime between
one point two to two point three billion dollars each year. And by earning this extra income, the human
rights organizations claim that Pyongyang is trying to circumvent the international
sanctions that aim to starve the state of its money over its controversial nuclear weapons
programme. Now you’ve probably heard a lot about the
supposed threat posed by North Korea’s nukes, but are we really all at risk of being obliterated
by Kim Jong-un? Well, it seems like it depends on where you
live. In April 2017 the Australian Foreign Minister,
Julie Bishop was warned by General Vincent K Brook, the commander of US and UN forces
in Korea, that Australia would soon be in range of North
Korea’s nuclear arsenal. But how close is North Korea from making intercontinental
missiles capable of carrying a nuclear warhead? According to recent news reports North Korea
has launched more test missiles and detonated more nuclear bombs than ever since Kim Jong
Un came to power in 2011. With three of the five nuclear tests being
conducted under his rein and a whopping ninety missile launches up until May 2017. The regime
has also claimed that the underground nuclear detonation in September 2016, tested a warhead
that can successfully be mounted on to a missile. And in 2017 a series of missile tests that
landed in The Sea of Japan rose tensions and lead to the US starting joint military drills
with South Korea, plus a whole heap of provocative exchanges between the US and North Korea At another test launch in May 2017, North
Korea claimed its missile, called the ‘Hwasong-12’, was a ballistic missile capable of carrying
a heavy nuclear payload. Put this together with the ‘claimed’ results of the September
nuclear test and hey presto North Korea should have a nuke.. Okay, so let’s park the nuclear stuff for
now. I guess the question any American viewers are asking is ‘This is great, but how far
off are they from being able to hit good old US territory with a long-range missile?’ To understand this we need to know the basics
of how a Nuclear Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, or ICBM, works. And for this we need
diagrams. Lots of lovely diagrams. So… The missile fires straight up with the
power of all its engines. Then at a specified distance above the earth it is guided into
an arc, which is calculated to hit the earth over five thousand five hundred kilometers
away. After the initial thrust, the booster section
disconnects. The ICBM then continues on its remaining engine until it hits its maximum
speed. Now the ‘re-entry vehicle’ containing the payload (in this case the nuclear warhead)
will separate from the rest of the missile and continue travelling above the earth’s
atmosphere. Then, when it reaches the target area, it
is guided to re-enter the atmosphere. The problem at this point is that the payload
risks burning up and disintegrating, much like a meteor does when it enters our outer
atmosphere, so the ‘re-entry vehicle’ must be stable enough to withstand this descent. That’s it in a nutshell. Okay, so that made it seem really easy, but
for North Korea to strike the US they would need
a missile to fly at least eight thousand kilometres (4,800 miles). The recent Hwasong-12 test only flew a lateral
distance of seven hundred and eighty seven kilometers but this was fired at a very steep
angle in order to avoid flying over neighboring countries, and was on trajectory that reached
an altitude of two thousand, two hundred and eleven point five kilometers. These statements
were released by North Korea’s official news agency, and are consistent with the South’s
and Japan’s assessments. It’s estimated that if the Hwasong-12 was
fired at a standard trajectory then the missile would likely have reached a lateral distance
of at least four thousand kilometers. While this may not be enough to strike the
US or to qualify it as a ICBM, it helped them take a big step forward in developing an Intermediate-range
Ballistic Missile (IRBM). And in fact, the week after the Hwasong-12
test, North Korea launched the Pukguksong-2; a medium-range ballistic missile, which travelled
approximately four hundred and eighty kilometers. The KCNA state news agency claim it was so
successful that it will be put into mass production, even though it was only its second ever test
launch. But could their current development of an
Intercontinental Ballistic Missile withstand atmospheric re-entry? It’s believed that the high altitude that
the Hwasong-12 reached during its test launch was also to assess its re-entry capabilities, with KCNA reporting that the missiles homing
feature made it possible to survive re-entry under the worst possible conditions and allow
it to still accurately detonate. The South Korean military however said it
was unlikely that the North had developed its atmospheric re-entry to this level. A
point reinforced by German Aerospace Engineer Markus Schiller… South Korea’s Science and Technology Policy
Institute believes it’s still difficult to judge when the North will have a reliably
tested ICBM, saying that developed countries will have tested at least twenty ICBMs with
a success rate of ninety percent before they’d be ready to deploy. Professor Siegfried Hecker, an expert on plutonium
at Stanford University, suggests… Either way North Korea is continuing its nuclear
program in defiance of increased UN sanctions, and recent satellite images indicate that
more nuclear tests may be planned. But to turn this all on its head, Mr Schiller
is sceptical about whether North has even actually developed a working nuclear warhead
and… “NOT JUST SOME NUCLEAR DEVICE THAT GOES
BOOM IN A TUNNEL, UNDER LABORATORY CONDITIONS” So what can we do with a problem like North
Korea? Sanctions don’t seem to have the desired
effect or are possibly being circumvented by cunning money-making schemes. So what about
a military response? If the US were to launch a preemptive strike
on North Korea, experts believe there is no conceivable way of destroying all of their
nuclear weapons. The US wouldn’t know where they all were,
plus road-mobile and submarine-launched missiles are currently being developed. Even if it was possible to destroy them all,
they wouldn’t be able to strike without causing them to detonate creating a mushroom cloud
across the Korean Peninsula, and with the South’s capital city Seoul and it’s ten
million inhabitants only fifty six kilometers from the North Korean border, the number of
casualties would be colossal. When North Korea first began developing their
nuclear capabilities, the US President at the time – Bill Clinton – considered a military
strike and the estimated casualties then, were in the hundreds of thousands, and that
was before they had nuclear weapons. Professor Siegfried Hecker, believes the US
and South Korea consider the consequences of military intervention unacceptably high,
and that they will only take the military option if North Korea initiates them first. “It is quite clear that [North Korea] wants
to threaten Washington with such a capability, but to launch would be suicidal, and I don’t
believe the regime is suicidal.” This was reinforced by statements from the
Aerospace Corp in April 2017 In the meantime the US has deployed the TERMINAL
HIGH ALTITUDE AREA DEFENSE ANTI-MISSILE SYSTEM or THAAD to South Korea, which acts as a missile
defence shield that will intercept any short to medium range missiles. Sure, all this talk of a fiery nuclear apocalypse
sounds terrifying, but even after all this, we still can’t be sure just how close North
Korea is to joining the nuke weapons clubs. Yet one thing is for sure – not everything
you hear about North Korea is true.




Comments
  1. Shin Dong Hyuk changed his story after seeing his father who is still in North Korea. Um… Yeah. He's got a living relative in North Korea and North Korea executes several generations of family members. Of course he's going to change his story! He got too well known and was damaging the North's propaganda machine!

  2. Once I saw one of your videos, i got hooked and wanting more and waiting. MORE!
    I’d like to see a cover about the philippines’ president

  3. Someone who knows stuff like this about a country like North Korea should at least know that Portugal exists and not ignore it 🙄

  4. my belief is north korea is just getting a decent nuclear deterrent like every other country on earth i mean NATO has trident russia has their deterrent

  5. Was the thing about North Korean translating the Diary of Anne Frank as propaganda against the U.S. debunked? I remember hearing that all the time in junior high.

  6. That escape from camp 14 guy said his parents were killed for planning to escape I don’t understand how his dad said some of it was false????

  7. 06:53 "Defectors are paid for their stories." A very small percentage of them are. The vast majority of defectors are reluctant to speak out in public, mainly to protect relatives back home. There is no financial incentive when defectors speak to South Korean agents behind closed doors.

  8. actually the bomb that North Korea tested has ablast yield of 150kt which means if it where to hit new york it could kill over 508,720 people and injure 753,200 and that is if it made contact with the ground

  9. well he has a nuke now and it can reach usa….breaking news he has a button his desk that can send a missile to usa. What did he do with that power? he wants to host Olympics.. what an evil genius…

  10. West you are not tired of demonizing Server Core ?! There, unlike you, free medecine and training, and people do not live on the streets

  11. This video is deceptively edited. For example when he debunked the rabid pack of dogs story, the way he put it seems to suggest that the entire event was fabricated. He failed to mention that the part of the uncle being executed is true.

    When talking about the internal struggles and the supposed "history of challenging the state" he conflates actual opposition to the rise of Kim Il Sung at the beginning of his regime, over 60 years ago (so when he may actually have had rivals), with supposed conspiracies that would have occurred later, always reported after the facts, most likely fabricated as a justification for periodic internal purges.
    All this while showing , without qualifiers, footage of South Korean protests in the 80's and 90's, thus giving the impression that it was North Koreans protesting and rioting in the streets. A thing simply unthinkable to occur, much less be filmed.

    Interestingly enough, the supposed attempted coup occurred in the early 80's, just when Kim Jong Il happened to be designated as successor, and needed to consolidate his power, conveniently giving him a good reason to eliminate a lot of his father's old camarades that had expressed unease to the idea of a dynastic succession in a Communist state, and putting his men in their places. But it must have been just a coincidence.

    By the same metric Stalinist Russia was also an hotbed of freedom fighters: a new conspiracy, and purge, was announced every few months. Since public processes demonstrated invariably beyond any doubt the guilt of everyone involved it must have been true.

    Also I don't see how the analysis of some experts suggesting a pseudo-rational motivation to the unicorn story, diminishes in any way the absurdity of a state news agency putting out a mythological fable as a news report. Westerners are supposedly unsophisticated and ignorant laughing at it because the North Koreans don't "necessarily" believe it (in the experts opinion, anyway, because certainly no North Korean could go and challenge the report openly without being accused of treason). If anything it makes it even more absurd.

  12. 16:30
    "even if it was possible to destroy all of them, they wouldn't be able to strike without causing them to detonate, creating a mushroom cloud across the Korean Peninsula"

    Nonsense. Making a nuclear weapon explode properly is very difficult when you're actually trying to do it, and you definitely can't do it by accident. If anything is out of sequence in the detonation of a nuclear weapon, it will fail to create runaway fission/fusion. Such an event might scatter radioactive material in a small area, but it definitely won't create a mushroom cloud. Unless you activate a nuclear bomb in just the right way, what you have is just a conventional bomb which scatters radioactive material, AKA a dirty bomb.

    The only way you'd get a mushroom cloud in such a scenario, would be if the conventional explosive you dropped on the nuke was powerful enough to create one by itself.

  13. i like how a totally agressive nuclear state ( USA ) is blaming other state that their developing nuclear weapons !!! 😀

  14. Imagine if North Korea wasn’t lying about the unicorns. Invading North Korea will be worth it for this reason alone.

  15. Yes they can hit Austrlia and the US, even if they can’t put a nuke they can use Biological or Chemical Waepons that would be just as deadly. Even if we don’t know for sure we must treat it as such,

  16. yeah trafficker bringing anything as long as there money involved…
    giving NK modern technology even though china stop giving NK.

  17. North Korea may be a horrible, oppressive nation, however it isn't hell on earth, and that's something a lot of us forget.

  18. Whats the point of this? How does not believing that the poverty, prison and labor camps and oppression are all false help anything? Disbelieving the realities of the horrible situations in North Korea does not help the people, it does not improve the situation. So why discredit what we know to be true? This is just another way to criticize the west and buy the communist propaganda.

  19. What if every men Un has ever killed are actually well and safe in Manhattan inside a Café called Little Pyongyang?

  20. So what are the names of the two provinces from which the majority of NK defectors in SK originate? I would really like to know and was a little disappointed you didn't shade those provinces in on the map that was on the screen!

  21. You know what a lot of Americans will come here and disagree with your video because you didn't show them what they wanted to see. They wanted to see how evil North Korea is and its people are suffering, they wanted to see some korean little girl crying about escaping the country so that they can cry with her and then comment about humanity and shit like that. They wanted to see some drama shit which the american TV shows and internet have been feeding them all the time and they wanted to believe in it so much, that finding out the truth about what is really happening in the world for them is boring, they would rather stay ignorant forever, as long as there is some drama in it. what a sad generation.

  22. Have you been to South Korea? I have and can tell you that there is a large movement there pushing for reunification. They feel that negative stories about the north do not help the cause of reunification and must be debunked. At least two of your sources are the propaganda arms of this reunification movement. You should also understand that the reunification movement in South Korea receives funding from the DPRK. Please check your sources for bias more carefully.

  23. You talk about the huge number of casualties because of how close the SK capitol is. What about all of the innocent civilians in NK? Or are they not considered at all? I would think that it wouldn’t matter how close another country is, the innocent people in the enemy country should at least be acknowledged. Kim doesn’t give a flying fuck about his people. That doesn’t mean we have to completely discredit them as well. If the north forces a military response, they are slaughtering their people as well. They don’t deserve to be forgotten, even if it does come down to that. More is at risk than just the south and neighbouring countries. There is a sociopath in power who is willing to sacrifice his own people. We don’t need more of that in the world, so we need to remember that. They said in this video, the ‘people’ of North Korea are just that: people. They are human lives. Start your favourite post-apocalyptic movie. There are people living on earth NOW who go through that every day.

    It seems to be the trend that the rest of the world want to follow.

  24. DVDs and western movies aren't illegal in the DPRK. Smartphones are widely distributed and when I visited the DPRK, they showed Frozen in a movie theatre. Many kids also were fans of European football clubs like FC Barcelona or Manchester United, and the games are broadcasted on state TV. There is also an international movie festival in Pyongyang that features indie flicks and alternative directors from Europe. The DPRK isn't nearly as closed off as people seem to assume.

  25. What to do about North Korea?
    Nothing
    What has North Korea done to you? How does North Korea negatively affect anyone in the west?

  26. Do little math if its even 200 000 oversee workers they cant physically produce so much money 1.2 b more like 400 000 million at best and thats without food and everything (accounting for minimal wage in every country..)

  27. North Korea isn't closed off from the world. You can actually visit it as a tourist as long as you hold a passport that's not from South Korea or Japan. I've been to North Korea

  28. Ah, but the Earth is NOT a horizontal plane and rockets are least efficient firing straight up having to fight gravity. ICBMs get much more than double their lofted launch height on horizontal launches. Probably not 4000 km but 8000 km or even 10.

  29. The other thing people forget is that DPRK's army isn't a couple nukes somewhere. It has more soldiers than Russia, more tanks than Latin America combined, entire industries in nuke-hardened bunkers, and civilian infrastructure like subway systems built from the ground up to take a nuclear strike.

  30. I know something Americans get wrong, also I am American, is that every American likes skittles but I hate them and soda and Burgers

  31. The defectors hate north korea so much that most of them move back once they realize that in south korea you must actually pay for housing and college.

  32. united states can erase australia of the map, doesn't that consider danger? what if australia stop being loyal to united states?

  33. AllTimes10 brought me here and gotta say the content + Robin makes this channel 5 stars for me

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