Doctors still don’t know what North Korea did to American student Otto Warmbier.
“Neurological condition can be best described as a state of unresponsive wakefulness.”
But seeing his condition after his release from captivity this week was another reminder of North Korea’s unforgiving brand of hero worship.
“Everything is about the Great Leader, television program, every newspaper article,” said Suki Kim, a Korean-American who spent six months in North Korea teaching English to elite students.
Kim was really gathering information for her latest book about life in a country where everyone learns to lie. For example, she once assigned her students to write an essay about Mark Zuckerberg. To her surprise?
“The next class, every one one of them had changed their essay topics. The new essay topics were all about evils of America.”
Then there was the day she happened to mention that there was a tunnel connecting England and France.
“They would be like, ‘What about the ocean’ and I would say, ‘Well, there is actually a train because you can build a tunnel.’ And there was silence because they have all been told that their country is the best in the world. And clearly, their country is not.”
And that’s one of the reasons she thinks it would be unrealistic for us to attack North Korea. Because even if Kim Jong-un was overthrown, trying to combine South Korea with a population in the north that has been stunted for 70 years:
“It’s not as simple as will two Koreas unify one day and live happily ever after. What about 25 million people who have been born and raised in the system.”