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Fiction for (and Against) Dictators

imageAs the weather heats up with the onset of spring, so does the rhetoric from North Korea. The government in Pyongyang has announced the resumption of their nuclear weapons program, they’ve closed off an industrial complex jointly operated with South Korea, and they’ve unilaterally rescinded the armistice that ended the Korean War in 1953. The US has responded with stern words of its own and an increase in its regional military presence. Most observers agree that this is mere saber-rattling on the part of the North Koreans, and that there’s no evidence to suggest that they have the military capacity (or the real inclination) to carry through their threats, but here’s the thing: no one knows for sure. The area north of the 38th parallel is probably the least-understood landscape on earth, remarkably so, given that it’s home to 25 million people and surrounded by modernized nations.

One indication of North Korea’s isolation (and absurdity) is that its leader, Kim Jong Un, recently spent some time wining and dining a prestigious foreign visitor—NBA rebounding legend and traveling human sideshow Dennis Rodman. The heavily-tattooed, attention-seeking ex-athlete is now the American who’s had by far the most contact with the highest echelon in Pyongyang. He’s not exactly the sharp-eyed diplomat you’d want on the scene to bring back useful intel, now is he?

Despite the odds, though, a few intrepid journalists and researchers have done the sometimes dangerous work of getting the real story out....Read More.