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From the day a North Korean is born, she is introduced to dogma that tells them her that her country is constantly in danger of being attacked by mortal enemies: South Korea and the United States. They are schooled in North Korean Communist–style propaganda from birth. People in the country aren't permitted to know much about other countries except when disasters and calamities strike other parts of the world. The messages to the North Korean people are clear: All other countries are plagued by chaos, so feel lucky to live here where the Dear Leader loves you and promises to provide for you.

It is this blind faith, or rather brainwashing, that has prevented the North Korean people from questioning the utter bleakness their country has been spiraling into for the past few decades. While much of the rest of Asia has grown and prospered over the years, millions of North Koreans have perished from starvation during Kim Jong Il's rein.

North Korea's economic situation has been dire for a very long time. Kim's determination not to engage the world—but rather to be more and more isolated—has been hugely detrimental to the health and survival of the North Korean people. All of this is happening as Kim continues to pursue his nuclear ambitions. Billions of dollars have been spent on the development of nuclear weapons while the people in his country starve. Kim has convinced the North Koreans that the world is against them and that they must build up their weapons arsenal in order to defend themselves. This propaganda machine causes people to justify putting their hunger issues aside for the good of their nation's defense.

FROM: Held Captive for 140 Days: Lisa Ling's Sister Breaks Her Silence
Published on May 18, 2010

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