How do you solve a problem like North Korea?

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It isn’t easy to get information from inside the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea. The country has a history of imprisoning foreign journalists, as it is illegal for them to operate from inside the country. In 2009, two American journalists were sentenced to twelve years hard labour for operating within the nation, although they were pardoned by Kim Jong-Il when Bill Clinton arrived in the nation. Because of this, it is impossible for us to truly know how the political structure of Pyongyang works, and how oppressed the North Korean people truly are.

It is because of this that journalists need to go undercover, this need for information, to uncover the truth. Recently, in order to get information for a Panorama broadcast on North Korea, BBC journalists entered the country disguised as visiting students from the London School of Economics. Despite insistence that the visiting students were informed of the potential dangers should the journalists be discovered, the LSE insisted that the broadcast be cancelled in order to protect its students and interests.

It is important for people in the West to know the inner workings of North Korea. The more we understand about North Korea, the less alarming their rhetoric becomes. North Korea often puts out violent rhetoric and threatens other nations as part of a national delusion that they are a country of global importance. So long as the North Korean people only see one side of the debate, they will continue to view their nation as a player in world politics, as opposed to the highly condemned footnote in history that it truly is. Even North Korea is unlikely to start a war they cannot win, but having these tantrums allows them to maintain the illusion that they brush shoulders and actively engage the superpowers of the world.

Because of this complete lack of understanding of the way that the DPRK works, it is of paramount importance that we do what we can to enlighten the general population with regards to the country. Therefore, the LSE should accept that it has a greater role to play in the unmasking of North Korea. I understand the concern for student welfare, and the idea that the university must protect its students, but if they were informed of the dangers, there is no reason to be so protective. It is necessary to deceive in order to allow the mysterious world of North Korea to be understood.

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