Knowing Adam Johnson, a Pulitzer winner American novelist
Adam Johnson speaks to DOT :
Adam Johnson used to teach at Stamford and he read a book by a North Korean in which an account of imprisonment in a labor camp of a man named Kang Cholehwan deeply touched him. Since 1957 only 27,000 North Koreans could escape- not many of them. They still live in the system. Because there is no free press, because there is no access to internet, because they are not allowed to have books, North Koreans don’t know that the book exists. The government may be aware of the book but the people in North Korea have not the access to the book.
The opposition of the North Koreans to internet is not unknown to anyone. They have an Egyptian company named Oroscom that manages their cell phone system and so there are three tiers. There are three million cell phones in North Korea. The vast majority can only call within North Korea and they have no internet. There is email but only within North Korea. When there is a higher tier, the elites – they do have the internet and they can have smart phones but that number is below 3% of the North Koreans. Therefore, most of the North Koreans have no magazines, newspapers, books, movies, novels, televisions, books or anything from outside world. There is only the propaganda from the North Korean regime.
Organized crimes in South Korea versus no crime in North Korea
There are different parts of North Korea. There are rural areas where everything is more difficult and there is Piyong Young which is the capital and there is the border area with China. So it’s not a monolithic place. But adversities make people bound. Suppose when men are pushed to the army they are treated very badly which makes them dependent on each other. And the idea is in battle they have to protect one another. And in North Korean society, if one person gets food- that person shares it with other people. And then one day they may have no food. So people help each other in North Korea and he has heard North Koreans saying that if someone falls down in street in South Korea, no one helps him. No one knows one’s neighbor in South Korea, let alone helping the neighbor. They remain very alone, isolated. But in North Korea people need their neighbors to survive. So that is something in the modern cities that we have lost.
Johnson was interviewed by Audity Falguni.