The Ridiculous B.S. Jewish Families Had To Deal With Growing Up In Russia

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF DOLLY AT ‘KOOLKOSHERKITCHEN’)

Hi, my name is Dolly. Actually, I am Devorah Yentl, but when I was born, clerks in communist Russia were not allowed to record names like that on a birth certificate. So the woman said to my mother, “Little girl, go and come back with a good Russian name.” My mother was little, that much was true, and at 4’11” she did look like a teenager. She wasn’t timid, though, and she did come back with a good Russian name, Dolly. As you can see, it starts with a D and ends with an L. To the clerk’s exasperated whisper, “But it’s still foreign!” she calmly opened a book she brought with her. Leo Tolstoy, the Russian classic, had Princess Dolly among his main characters in Anna Karenina. You couldn’t argue with Tolstoy, and thus it was duly recorded, in memory of my two great-grandmothers. Lest you think it only happened to Jews, I will refer you to a documentary about a famous Russian actress Lyudmila Gurchenko whose father wanted to name her Lucy. The clerk flatly refused to record a foreign name, suggesting “modern soviet names” Lenina, Stalina, Lelud (Lenin Loves Kids), or Dazdraperma (Long Live May 1st). They finally settled on an old Russian Lyudmila, but throughout her long and eventful life she was known as Lucy.

It wasn’t easy to keep kosher in communist Russia. You couldn’t go to a kosher store and buy anything, from soup to nuts, with a Hecksher,  the way it is in the US.  Here, chicken is already shechted for you, and cows conveniently label their own parts as “beef for stew.” As Yakov Smirnov used to say in the eponymous TV sitcom, “What a country!” For us, Cholov Israel meant my Zeide actually watching the milking process.  And when the shoichet was retired because his hands were shaking, Zeide would buy live chickens and shecht them himself. Since childhood, I was taught how to salt a chicken to drain all blood out of it, to make it kosher. When I bought my first kosher chicken in a Jewish store in America, I brought it home, cut it open, and to my horror, found a small clot of blood! I salted it and left it to drain as I had been taught. For quite a few years after that, I kept “kashering” kosher meat, just in case.

I am semi-retired, I love to cook, and I now have time on my hands to share my recipes and exchange new food ideas. My recipes are different from traditional American Jewish food. I invite you to explore, to experiment, and by all means, to get your kids involved in the magical fun of transforming this-that-and the other into something delicious to grace your table. This is truly better than I-pad, so what’s a little mess made by little hands, when there is lots of love and laughter!

This blog is dedicated to my children who have been incredibly supportive throughout an ordeal of my father’s illness and – Acharon, acharon… – to the memory of my father, a beautiful person loved by all.

LIFE UNDER KIM JONG UN “THE GREAT SUCCESSOR”

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

LIFE UNDER KIM JONG UN

Recent North Korean escapees relate how the secretive country has changed under the “Great Successor.”

Illustrations by Dominic Bugatto. Yoonjung Seo assisted in the reporting.

English

(영어)

Korean

(한국어)

“In North Korea, life only gets better if the state helps you. But these days, the state doesn’t help. We’re on our own.”

— The bride, now 23, from Hyesan. Escaped from North Korea in May 2017

When Kim Jong Un became the leader of North Korea almost six years ago, many North Koreans thought that their lives were going to improve. He offered the hope of generational change in the world’s longest-running communist dynasty. After all, he was so young. A millennial. Someone with experience of the outside world.

But the “Great Successor,” as he is called by the regime, has turned out to be every bit as brutal as his father and grandfather before him. Even as he has allowed greater economic freedom, he has tried to seal the country off more than ever, tightening security along the border with China and stepping up the punishments for those who dare to try to cross it. And at home, freedom of speech, and of thought, is still a mirage.

In six months of interviews in South Korea and Thailand, The Washington Post talked with more than 25 North Koreans from different walks of life who lived in Kim Jong Un’s North Korea and managed to escape from it. In barbecue restaurants, cramped apartments and hotel rooms, these refugees provided the fullest account to date of daily life inside North Korea and how it has changed, and how it hasn’t, since Kim took over from his father, Kim Jong Il, at the end of 2011. Many are from the northern parts of the country that border China — the part of North Korea where life is toughest, and where knowledge about the outside world just across the river is most widespread — and are from the relatively small segment of the population that is prepared to take the risks involved in trying to escape.

Some parts of their stories cannot be independently verified because of the secretive nature of the regime, and their names have been withheld to protect their family members still in North Korea. They were introduced to The Post by groups that help North Korean escapees, including No Chain for North KoreaWoorion and Liberty in North Korea.

But in talking about their personal experiences, including torture and the culture of surveillance, they recounted the hardships of daily life under Kim Jong Un’s regime. They paint a picture of a once-communist state that has all but broken down, its state-directed economy at a standstill. Today, North Koreans are making their own way, earning money in an entrepreneurial and often illegal fashion. There are only a few problems in North Korea these days that money can’t solve.

As life inside North Korea is changing, so too are people’s reasons for escaping.

Increasingly, North Koreans are not fleeing their totalitarian state because they are hungry, as they did during the 15 or so years following the outbreak of a devastating famine in the mid-1990s. Now, they are leaving because they are disillusioned.

Market activity is exploding, and with that comes a flow of information, whether as chitchat from traders who cross into China or as soap operas loaded on USB sticks. And this leads many North Koreans to dream in a way they hadn’t before.

Some are leaving North Korea because they want their children to get a better education. Some are leaving because their dreams of success and riches in the North Korean system are being thwarted. And some are leaving because they want to be able to speak their minds.

A NEW KIM AT THE HELM

“Standing at the forefront of the Korean revolution is Kim Jong Un, great successor to the revolutionary cause of Juche [self reliance ideology] and outstanding leader of our party, army and people.”

Korean Central News Agency — Dec. 19, 2011

The young mother

젊은 어머니

From: Hoeryong, Age: 29

Escaped in 2014

I could see how young he was, and I hoped that maybe things were going to get better. We were given some rations through our neighborhood association — we even got meat and fish — at the time he took over.

The preschooler

유치원생

From: Hoeryong, Age: 7

Escaped in 2014

I remember how fat he was. He had a very fat face like a pig.

As the regime started preparing for Kim’s succession, it put out a song that everyone in the country was made to learn, called “Footsteps.” The idea was that Kim was following in the footsteps of his father and would lead the country into a glorious future.

 3:42
Watch North Korea’s music video for its song ‘Footsteps’

The money man

돈 남자

From: Hyesan, Age: 43

Escaped in 2015

We heard the song “Footsteps” and we were told to memorize it so [we] knew that he was going to be the leader after Kim Jong Il. We were told how great he was, that he could ride a horse when he was 5 years old and shoot a gun when he was 3. Of course we didn’t believe these things, but if you laughed or said anything, you’d be killed.

The university student

대학생

From: Sariwon, Age: 37

Escaped in 2013

I was in my second year at the university when this person was introduced to us as our new leader. I thought it was a joke. Among my closest friends, we were calling him a piece of s—. Everyone thinks this, but you can only say it to your closest friends or to your parents if you know that they agree.

The drug dealer

마약상

From: Hoeryong, Age: 46

Escaped in 2014

I created some kind of fantasy in my mind about Kim Jong Un. Because he was so young, I thought he was going to open North Korea’s doors, but after he took power and I lived three years under him, life became harder.

MONEY TALKS

In theory, North Korea is a bastion of socialism, a country where the state provides everything, including housing, healthcare, education and jobs. In reality, the state economy barely operates anymore. People work in factories and fields, but there is little for them to do, and they are paid almost nothing. A vibrant private economy has sprung up out of necessity, one where people find ways to make money on their own, whether through selling homemade tofu or dealing drugs, through smuggling small DVD players with screens called “notels” over the border or extracting bribes.

The university student

대학생

From: Sariwon, Age: 37

Escaped in 2013

North Korea technically has a centrally planned economy, but now people’s lives revolve around the market. No one expects the government to provide things anymore. Everyone has to find their own way to survive.

The hairdresser

미용사

From: Hyesan, Age: 23

Escaped in 2016

I had to drop out of teachers college when I was 19 because my father became ill so I needed to work. I started doing people’s hair at my house. All the women wanted perms. I charged 30 [Chinese] yuan for a regular perm or 50 yuan for a perm with better products. But it was still hard to make money. [Thirty yuan is about $4.50.]

The farmer

농부

From: Hoeryong, Age: 46

Escaped in 2014

We lived in the city center, but we rented some land in the foothills of the mountains and grew corn there. During planting and harvest season, we would wake up at 4 a.m. and walk three hours to reach the farmland. We’d take a little break for lunch or a snack, then work until 8 p.m. before walking home again. Doing the weeding was the hardest because we had to get rid of them by hand. And we’d buy beans from the market and make tofu that we’d sell from our house. Our profit was less than 5,000 won [60 cents at the black market rate] a day. But because the bean price fluctuates, sometimes we were left with nothing at all.

North Koreans first learned how to be entrepreneurs during the famine, when they had to make money to survive. While men had to continue to show up for work in dormant factories, women would turn corn into noodles and keep a little for themselves but sell the rest so they could buy more corn for the following day. Homeless children would steal manhole covers to sell as scrap metal. Markets began to appear and took hold. North Koreans used to joke you could buy everything there except cats’ horns.

These days, you can probably buy cats’ horns, too.

 2:03
Look inside a market in North Korea

The bean trader

콩 상인

From: Hyesan, Age: 23

Escaped in 2014

I had an aunt in Pyongyang who sold beans in the market there. I would buy what she needed from various farmers and get it to her. I’d pay people to pack up the beans into sacks, pay porters to take them to the station, get them onto the train. You have to smooth the way with money. My uncle is in the military, so his position provided protection for my aunt’s business. Of course, my aunt was the main earner in the house. It’s the women who can really make money in North Korea.

Tens of thousands of North Koreans now work outside the country, in lumber yards and garment factories and on construction sites, in China, Russia and other countries, earning foreign currency. Generally, two-thirds of their pay goes to the regime, and they’re allowed to keep the rest.

The construction worker

건설 노동자

From: Pyongyang, Age: 40

Escaped in 2015

I wanted to earn money for my family and buy a house, so I paid $100 to bribe my way into an overseas construction job. I was sent to St. Petersburg. We lived at the construction site and would work from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., or sometimes until midnight in the summer, then we’d go back to our dormitory to eat. We worked seven days a week, but we could finish early on Sundays — 7 p.m. — and that was nice. My whole purpose for being there was to make lots of money and go home proud of my achievement. I still remember the first time I got paid. It was 1,000 rubles. When I finished work at 10 p.m., I went to the store and saw that a bottle of beer was 27 rubles. I thought, wow I’m rich.

As the economy and the rules that govern it change, there are more and more gray areas that can be exploited. That means that illegal trade and activity have blossomed, too.

The drug dealer

마약상

From: Hoeryong, Age: 46

Escaped in 2014

I did so many things that I wasn’t supposed to do. I worked as a broker transferring money and connecting people in North Korea with people in South Korea through phone calls. I arranged reunions for them in China. I smuggled antiques out of North Korea and sold them in China. I sold ginseng and pheasants to China. And I dealt ice [methamphetamines.]. Officially, I was a factory worker, but I bribed my way out of having to go to work. If you don’t operate this way in North Korea, you have nothing.

The doctor

의사

From: Hyesan, Age: 42

Escaped in 2014

The salary for doctors was about 3,500 won a month. That was less than it cost to buy one kilogram of rice. So of course, being a doctor was not my main job. My main job was smuggling at night. I would send herbal medicine from North Korea into China, and with the money, I would import home appliances back into North Korea. Rice cookers, notels, LCD monitors, that kind of thing.

From the biggest cities to the smallest villages, there is now some kind of market building where people can sell their wares and keep their profits. Some are state-run, some are state-sanctioned, some are ad hoc. The markets have been retroactively legalized by the regime.

Money is now needed for nearly everything — even for the parts of communist life that the Kim regime crows about providing, like housing and schooling. Bribery and corruption have become endemic, undermining the regime by loosening controls and creating incentives that may not always be in line with Kim’s priorities.

The farmer

농부

From: Hoeryong, Age: 46

Escaped in 2014

Technically, you don’t have to pay to go to school, but the teachers tell you that you have to submit a certain amount of beans or rabbit skins that can be sold. If you don’t submit, you get told off continuously, and that’s why students stop going to school. The kids are hurt just because the parents can’t afford it.

The young mother

젊은 어머니

From: Hoeryong, Age: 29

Escaped in 2014

I used to pay the teachers at my daughter’s school so they would look after her better than others. I would give them 120,000 won at a time — that’s enough to buy 25 kilograms of rice — twice a year. If you don’t pay the teachers, they won’t make any effort.

The fisherman

어부

From: Ryongchon, Age: 45

Escaped in July 2017

I lived through all three Kims, but our life was not getting any better for any of us. We all have to pay for Kim Jong Un’s projects, like Ryomyong Street [a residential development in Pyongyang]. We had to contribute 15,000 North Korean won per household [more than four months’ salary] to the government for that street.

The drug dealer

마약상

From: Hoeryong, Age: 46

Escaped in 2014

My main business was selling ice. I think that 70 or 80 percent of the adults in Hoeryong city were using ice. My customers were just ordinary people. Police officers, security agents, party members, teachers, doctors. Ice made a really good gift for birthday parties or for high school graduation presents. It makes you feel good and helps you release stress, and it really helps relations between men and women. My 76-year-old mother was using it because she had low blood pressure, and it worked well. Lots of police officers and security agents would come to my house to smoke, and of course, I didn’t charge them — they were my protection. They would come by during their lunch break, stop by my house. The head of the secret police in my area was almost living at my house.

“Lots of police officers and security agents would come to my house to smoke, and of course I didn’t charge them — they were my protection.”

The ability to make money, sometimes lots of money, through means both legal and illegal has led to visible inequality in a country that has long touted itself as an egalitarian socialist paradise. This could be a potential source of disruption. Bean traders and drug dealers and everyone in between have the prospect of making a decent living. Those working only in official jobs, whether they be on a state-owned ostrich farm or in a government ministry in Pyongyang, earn only a few dollars a month and get little in the way of rations to supplement their meager salaries.

The rich kid

부자 인 아이

From: Chongjin, Age: 20

Escaped in 2014

Skating rinks opened in 2013, and rollerblading became a really big thing. Rich kids had their own rollerblades. We’d carry them slung over our shoulders as we walked to the rink — it was a status symbol, a sign that you have money. I bought my rollerblades at the market. They were pink, and it cost 200 Chinese yuan. That’s the same price as 30 kilograms of rice. It’s unthinkable for poor kids.

The construction worker

건설 노동자

From: Pyongyang, Age: 40

Escaped in 2015

There were long periods where we didn’t get paid. I once went for six months without getting any salary at all. We lived in a shipping container at the construction site. We were given rice and cabbage and one egg per person per day, and we had an electric coil in our container that we could cook on. We needed some protein because our work was so hard, so we started buying pigskin at the market because it was cheap. Washing was like a special occasion. But if you went to the bathhouse, you would miss out on work. Once I didn’t bathe for two months. We didn’t think anything of it. It was just the way we lived.

“There were long periods where we didn’t get paid. I once went for six months without getting any salary at all.”

The rich kid

부자 인 아이

From: Chongjin, Age: 20

Escaped in 2014

Cellphones are a big thing. To be able to afford a smartphone, you had to come from a rich family. Of course, there were some poor kids at my school, but I didn’t hang out with them. I had an Arirang smartphone that cost $400. When boys came up to talk to me, I’d check out their phone. If they had one of those old-style phones with buttons, I wasn’t interested.

The markets are the distribution point not just for goods, but also for information. Chatter, rumors, illicit foreign media.

The farmer

농부

From: Hoeryong, Age: 46

Escaped in 2014

Women make their living in the market, and while they’re sitting there at the stalls, they talk. So the market is a great place to learn about the outside world.

The phone connector

전화 커넥터

From: Hoeryong, Age: 49

Escaped in 2013

I watched lots of [smuggled] movies and soap operas on USB sticks from the market. I would plug them into my TV. Vendors who are selling ordinary things like batteries or rice or whatever, they hide the USBs inside under the counter. When you go into the market you say to the vendors: Do you have anything delicious today? That’s the code. USBs are also good because they are so easy to hide, and you can just break them if you get caught.

“When you go into the market you say to the vendors: Do you have anything delicious today?”

The fisherman

어부

From: Ryongchon, Age: 45

Escaped in July 2017

In the past, if you watched Chinese movies on USBs you were okay. You got put in a labor camp only if you were caught with South Korean or American movies. But now, under Kim Jong Un, you get sent to a labor camp if you’re caught watching Chinese movies, too. The police and the security services and government officials live better these days. The more people they catch, the more money they earn.

The teenage prisoner

십대 죄수

From: Hyesan, Age: 22

Escaped in 2013

I was 8 years old when I started watching foreign movies. I always liked watching romantic South Korean dramas like “My Fair Lady.” I loved the way that women were being cherished. North Korea is a very male-oriented society, men never bother about taking care of women. And I liked to look at their fancy cars and houses.

The accordion player

아코디언 연주자

From: Hamhung, Age: 25

Escaped in 2015

My mom worked in the market selling home appliances, so she had a way to get DVDs. I watched Chinese, Indian and Russian movies, and lots of South Korean soap operas. I thought that if I got to South Korea, I could do anything I wanted.

REPRESSION AND DISILLUSIONMENT

It is impossible to overstate the pervasiveness of the personality cult surrounding the Kims in North Korea. Founding President Kim Il Sung, his son Kim Jong Il and his grandson, the current leader, Kim Jong Un form a kind of holy trinity in North Korea. There is no criticizing them or questioning the system — at least not without risking your freedom and the freedom of your entire family. Your life itself could be at stake.

The preschooler

유치원생

From: Hoeryong, Age: 7

Escaped in 2014

I learned songs about the general and about the Kim family and how great Kim Il Sung was.

The elementary schoolgirl

초등학생

From: Ryongchon, Age: 7

Escaped in July 2017

We got gifts on Kim Jong Un’s birthday: candy and cookies and gum and puffed rice. I was so grateful to him for giving me all these sweets. We would stand up in class and say, “Thank you, General Kim Jong Un.”

“We would stand up in class and say, ‘Thank you, General Kim Jong Un.’”

The university student

대학생

From: Sariwon, Age: 37

Escaped in 2013

We had ideological education for 90 minutes every day. There was revolutionary history, lessons about Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il, Kim Jong Un. Of course, they taught us about why we needed nuclear weapons, and they would tell us that we needed to make sacrifices in our daily lives so they could build these weapons and protect our country, keep the nation safe. I was so sick and tired of hearing about all this revolutionary history, I was so sick of calling everyone “comrade.” I didn’t care about any of that stuff.

The young mother

젊은 어머니

From: Hoeryong, Age: 29

Escaped in 2014

Everybody knew that Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un were both liars, that everything is their fault, but it’s impossible to voice any opposition because we are under such tight surveillance. If someone is drunk and says Kim Jong Un is a son of a bitch, you’ll never see them again.

The doctor

의사

From: Hyesan, Age: 42

Escaped in 2014

It’s like a religion. From birth, you learn about the Kim family, learn that they are gods, that you must be absolutely obedient to the Kim family. The elites are treated nicely, and because of that they make sure that the system stays stable. But for everyone else, it’s a reign of terror. The Kim family uses terror to keep people scared, and that makes it impossible to stage any kind of social gathering, let alone an uprising.

The construction worker

건설 노동자

From: Pyongyang, Age: 40

Escaped in 2015

We had education sessions when we would go back to the main building and into a big room where there were portraits of the leaders. Everyone had to bow and buy bunches of flowers to lay in front of the portraits. There would be a speech by the boss, who was a party member. We would hear about how Kim Jong Un had done this and this and that [he] was working so hard for the party and for the nation and for the people. I believed it up until the Kim Jong Un era, but this exaggeration was just too much. It just didn’t make sense.

The money man

돈 남자

From: Hyesan, Age: 43

Escaped in 2015

Every month there was special instruction about Kim Jong Un. It came down from Pyongyang to the neighborhood associations. We were told that Kim Jong Un wanted to know everything so that he could take proper care of everyone, help everyone. Nobody believed this because if Kim Jong Un knew we had no electricity and were eating corn rice [imitation rice made from ground corn], why wasn’t he doing anything about it?

The bean trader

콩 상인

From: Hyesan, Age: 23

Escaped in 2014

There was this story going around that Kim Il Sung had asked Kim Jong Un to get him an apple. Kim Jong Un asked for a shovel because he wanted to bring the whole tree. It was the kind of joke that the secret police would create. Instead of just doing top-down teaching, they would also create stories like this [about devotion to the regime] because they thought that their propaganda would circulate better as rumors and would seem more convincing.

North Korea operates as a vast surveillance state, with a menacing state security department called the Bowibu as its backbone. Its agents are everywhere and operate with impunity.

The regime also operates a kind of neighborhood watch system. Every district in every town or city is broken up into neighborhood groups of 30 or 40 households, each with a leader who is responsible for coordinating grass-roots surveillance and encouraging people to snitch.

The young mother

젊은 어머니

From: Hoeryong, Age: 29

Escaped in 2014

People in each neighborhood association are always checking up on each other. If one family seems to be living better than everyone else, then all the neighbors try to find out how they are making their money. Everybody is sensitive because if someone seems to be living well, then people get jealous of that house. Nobody has to be asked to bring that wealthy family down and make sure that this wealthy family loses their money. When you see a family lose their house, that feels good. That’s why it’s important not to show off how wealthy you are.

The farmer

농부

From: Hoeryong, Age: 46

Escaped in 2014

Of course, I thought about the outside world, but if you say, “I want to go to China or South Korea,” then it can be reported by an informant to the security services. You can think it, but you can’t say it. You never know who is going to snitch on you. We often heard and saw how Chinese people had money because Chinese people used to come to North Korea to sell things, so we thought it would be nice to live there.

The rich kid

부자 인 아이

From: Chongjin, Age: 20

Escaped in 2014

There were youth leaders who would patrol around, looking for things that we weren’t supposed to be doing. If you were wearing jeans or skinny pants, or if you had a manicure or your hair was too long, you would get in trouble. They would sometimes check your phone to see if you had any South Korean songs. I got busted for this, but I got out of it by buying them a box of 20 bottles of beer.

“They would sometimes check your phone to see if you had any South Korean songs.”

For those who ran afoul of the regime in ways that money could not solve, the punishment could be harsh.

The teenage prisoner

십대 죄수

From: Hyesan, Age: 22

Escaped in 2013

When I was 16, I was staying at my grandma’s house and there was a banging on the door late at night. Two secret police officers took me to the police station and asked me: “Where are your parents?” I told them I didn’t know. It turned out that they had gone missing and I suspected that my mom’s business associates, when they realized this, planted a whole lot of stuff on her, said that she was the mastermind behind this big smuggling operation. The police yelled at me: “You’re just like your mother. You probably have fantasies about China, too.” They slapped my face about five times.

The phone connector

전화 커넥터

From: Hoeryong, Age: 49

Escaped in 2013

The first time I went to prison, I had been caught helping people make phone calls to their relatives in South Korea. I was sentenced to four months’ hard labor, building a road on the side of a mountain that they said we needed in case there was a war. The men did the digging and the women had to carry rocks and soil.

Escapees from North Korea’s gruesome political prisons have recounted brutal treatment over the years, including medieval torture with shackles and fire and being forced to undergo abortions by the crudest methods. Human rights activists say that this appears to have lessened slightly under Kim. But severe beatings and certain kinds of torture — including being forced to remain in stress positions for crippling lengths of time — are commonplace throughout North Korea’s detention systems, as are public executions.

 1:39
Clip: Kang Na-ra in the ‘Jangmadang Generation’

The teenage prisoner

십대 죄수

From: Hyesan, Age: 22

Escaped in 2013

I was interrogated again by the secret police, and they wanted to know about my mother’s business. They were slapping me around the face again. They always go for the face. I was beaten severely that time. They pushed me so hard against the wall that I had blood coming from my head. I still get a headache sometimes. While I was there they made me sit with my legs crossed and my arms resting on my knees and my head always down. If you move at all or if you try to stretch your legs out, they will yell at you and hit you. I had to stay like that for hours on end.

The money man

돈 남자

From: Hyesan, Age: 43

Escaped in 2015

In 2015, a money transfer went bad — the woman I’d given the money to got caught and she ratted on me — and I was put in detention. I spent two months there. I wasn’t treated like a human being — they beat me, they made me sit in stress positions where I couldn’t lift my head. Two times they slapped my face and kicked me during interrogation, but I was not beaten up badly. Maybe because I was not a nobody, maybe they feared that I knew someone who could get back at them.

Starvation is often part of the punishment, even for children. The 16-year-old lost 13 pounds in prison, weighing only 88 pounds when she emerged.

The teenage prisoner

십대 죄수

From: Hyesan, Age: 22

Escaped in 2013

We got up at 6 a.m. every day and went to bed at 11 p.m., and in between we would be working the whole time, shoveling cement or lugging sacks, except for lunch. Lunch was usually steamed corn. I was too scared to eat. I cried a lot. I didn’t want to live.

The phone connector

전화 커넥터

From: Hoeryong, Age: 49

Escaped in 2013

Even though we were working so hard in prison camp, all we got to eat was a tiny bit of corn rice and a small potato. By the time I got out, I was so malnourished I could hardly walk.

It is this web of prisons and concentration camps, coupled with the threat of execution, that stops people from speaking up. There is no organized dissent in North Korea, no political opposition.

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The drug dealer

마약상

From: Hoeryong, Age: 46

Escaped in 2014

If you make problems, then your whole family gets punished. That’s why people don’t want to make any trouble. If I get punished for my wrongdoing, that’s one thing. But it’s my whole family that would be put at risk if I did something. North Koreans have seen that Kim Jong Un killed his own uncle, so we understand how merciless he can be. That’s why you can’t have an uprising in North Korea.

The university student

대학생

From: Sariwon, Age: 37

Escaped in 2013

The secret to North Korea’s survival is the reign of terror. Why do you think North Korea has public executions? Why do you think they block all communications? Why do you think North Koreans leave, knowing that they will never see their families again? It shows how bad things are. All our rights as people have been stripped away.

The phone connector

전화 커넥터

From: Hoeryong, Age: 49

Escaped in 2013

If you speak out against the system, you will immediately be arrested. And if you do something wrong, then three generations of your family will be punished. In 2009, I heard there was a going to be some kind of coup launched in Chongjin and that all of the people involved were executed. When you hear about cases like this, of course you’re scared. So instead of trying to do something to change the system, it’s better just to leave.

Some people do leave, but not that many. It’s incredibly risky and logistically difficult to get around the border guards and the barbed wire. Unknown thousands cross into China each year. Some remain in China, almost always young women who get sold to poor Chinese men in the countryside who can’t get a wife any other way. Some get caught and sent back — to certain imprisonment.

The repatriated wife

송환 된 아내

From: Nampo, Age: 50

Escaped North Korea for the last time in 2016

I had lived in China for 20 years, but someone must have reported me. I was sent back to North Korea, and I spent two and a half years in a prison camp. [After she had left once more for China], I knew I couldn’t be repatriated again. I thought that it would be the end of my life.

But each year, a thousand or so North Koreans make it to South Korea. In the 20-odd years since the famine, only 30,000 North Koreans have made it to the southern side of the peninsula.

During the late 1990s and the early 2000s, almost all the North Koreans who fled were escaping out of hunger or economic need. But the explosion of markets has improved life for many. Today, more people are leaving North Korea because they are disillusioned with the system, not because they can’t feed their families.

The accordion player

아코디언 연주자

From: Hamhung, Age: 25

Escaped in 2015

I was ambitious. I wanted to be a party member and enjoy all the opportunities that come with that. My dream was to make lots of money and be a high-ranking government official. Family background means so much in North Korea, but I had family in China and I realized that this would stop me from being able to follow my dreams. I left because I didn’t have the freedom to do what I wanted to do.

The bean trader

콩 상인

From: Hyesan, Age: 23

Escaped in 2014

I wanted to progress in life, I wanted to go to university, but because my mother had defected to China, it looked like I wouldn’t be able to go any further. It looked like I would be stuck in North Korea where I was. I could have moved, lived, no problem, but I felt like I didn’t have any future in North Korea. That’s why I decided to leave.

The meat delivery guy

고기 배달원

From: Undok, Age: 23

Escaped in 2014

We were told in school that we could be anybody. But after graduation, I realized that this wasn’t true and that I was being punished for somebody else’s wrongdoing. I realized I wouldn’t be able to survive here. So for two years, I looked for a way out. When I thought about escaping, it gave me a psychological boost.

The doctor

의사

From: Hyesan, Age: 42

Escaped in 2014

I hoped to work abroad as a doctor in the Middle East or Africa. But to work overseas you have to pass security screening to make sure you’re ideologically sound and aren’t going to defect. That’s a problem that money can’t solve and that’s where I got blocked. I was very angry, very annoyed. I cursed our society. I am a very capable person, and I was a party member, but even I couldn’t make it.

The construction worker

건설 노동자

From: Pyongyang, Age: 40

Escaped in 2015

I worked for three and a half years, but I made only $2,000 during that time. We were allowed to work overseas for five years maximum, and I was hoping to save $10,000 and return home proud. I realized it wasn’t going to happen, so I started looking for a chance to escape.

The university student

대학생

From: Sariwon, Age: 37

Escaped in 2013

I was so disgusted with the system. I didn’t have the freedom to speak my mind, or to travel anywhere I wanted, or even to wear what I wanted. It was like living in a prison. We were monitored all the time by our neighborhood leader, by the normal police, by the secret police. If you ask me what was the worst thing about North Korea, I’d say: Being born there.

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History of Laos

(I GOT THIS ARTICLE FROM GOOGLE PLUS)

Pathet Lao

The term Pathet Lao (land of Lao) is generally used to describe the communist movement of Laos that began in 1945 and continued until 1975, when Laos became communist. It was one of three groups active in the politics of Laos, the other two being the Royal Lao Government (RLG) and the neutralists.

Laos became a French protectorate in 1893. During World War II, the Japanese took control of Laos and declared it independent from French colonial rule on March 9, 1945. After Japan’s surrender, an independent Lao Issara (Free Laos) government was proclaimed on September 1, joined by the Pathet Lao, with its strong nationalist leanings.

There was a Lao committee section in the Indochinese Communist Party, and the separate existence of the Lao communist movement was established in 1945. The leader of the Pathet Lao, Prince Souphanuvong, had met the Vietnamese Communist leader Ho Chi Minh in 1945 and gained control of central Laos with the help of Vietnamese troops.

The prince had nurtured the communist movement and was prepared to fight against the French, who had seized the capital city, Vientiane, in 1946. Laos was soon engulfed in the First Indochina War, and the Pathet Lao fought along with the Vietminh and the Khmer Rouge. The granting of limited independence on July 19, 1949, by the French was not accepted by the communists.

However, Souvanna Phouma joined the new French-sponsored government in February 1950, where Souphanouvong proclaimed the parallel government of Pathet Lao along with its political organ, Neo Lao Issara (Lao Free Front).

The French defeat at Dien Bien Phu on May 7, 1954, ended its colonial rule in Indochina. The Pathet Lao was recognized as a political party with control over Phong Saly and Sam Neua Provinces and began to consolidate its position.

In December 1959 the military-dominated government of Phoumi Nosavan arrested the Pathet Lao members of the National Assembly, although Souphanouvong escaped. Laos was plunged into civil war. North Vietnam supported the Pathet Lao by sending arms, ammunitions, and troops.

The U.S. government included Laos in its containment strategy defense against North Vietnam and China. Another attempt was made to bring peace to Laos with the Geneva Accords of 1962. But the attempt failed, and Laos was soon embroiled in the Vietnam War.

A three-pronged coalition between the Pathet Lao, the royal government, and the neutralists did not last long, and the United States and Hanoi stepped up economic and military assistance to their respective allies.

War in Laos became a sideshow in the Vietnam War, marked by heavy civilian death toll. The Pathet Lao military advance captured more territory and by 1972 controlled four-fifths of the land and half the population of Laos.

Finally, the signing of the Paris Peace Agreements on Vietnam in 1973 led to accelerated negotiations in Laos. An agreement on Restoring Peace and Achieving National Concord on Laos was signed in the same year. With the United States out of South Vietnam, the North Vietnamese conquered the south in 1975.

After the fall of South Vietnam, the Pathet Lao assumed effective control of Laos, and the coalition government in Laos was dissolved. On December 2, 1975, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (LPDR) was formed with Souphanouvong as president.

Mr. Trump Sticks Up For One Of Our Allies And The Cowards Start Whining

 

In the U.S. Media all I had heard for at least the first 24 hours after the event was Mr. Trump being blasted for calling the President of Taiwan, Ms. Tsai Ing-wen. This afternoon it took me reading about the event in the Times of Israel News Paper that Mr. Trump hadn’t actually called the President of Taiwan, the truth is that she called him. Evidently Mr. Trump was supposed to act like Mr. Obama did and say, no thank you, China’s leaders wouldn’t like that. There are so many reasons that the politicians in Washington D.C. are perceived as being weak kneed and undependable by most Countries throughout the world. Our Allies throughout the world are and have been worried that the U.S. will not help them if they are attacked by a larger Nation. Here in the U.S. our politicians are always playing games with real life issues. Our politicians only seem interested in increasing their bank accounts and conning people out of their vote, not in handling the real world issues that we voted them in office to do. Putting it bluntly, we have a bunch of cowards in the Congress and the Senate as well as someone bought and paid for in the Oval Office. This is not an issue with just one of our ‘National’ parties, it is both.

 

Earlier today I read in the Shanghai Daily News and the Times of Israel how the “American Chamber Of Commerce” in Beijing was worried about China clamping down on American businesses that are in China because of their ‘displeasure’ of Mr. Trump taking that phone call from Taiwan’s President. Here in the U.S. our great and wonderful “State Department” whom we all know is always looking out for the best interest of the American people also was chastising Mr. Trump for taking the call. They were more concerned about how China would react to this (basically treason) of breaking protocol regarding the “One China Policy.” Our Media have been talking of late how Mr. Trump has been ‘flying by the seat of his pants’ in regard to his actions instead of relying on ‘the professionals.’ Today the ‘unnamed’ representative at the State Department said that Mr. Trump needed to consult with them as they are the ones that sets what is proper protocol. To this arrogance I have only one thing to say, well, actually two things. One, it is the President who sets what Protocol is and will be, not midlevel ‘managers’ at the State Department. Two, I hope that people like this person at the State Department have their U-Haul trucks reserved for late January because there are going to be a lot of folks moving out of D.C. soon.

 

Taiwan is one of our Allies in Southeast Asia, China is just going to have to get over that fact. China has been trying to scare the life out of every Nation in the region of the South China Sea for at least the past two years minimum. I have no problem with the people of China at all. China could be a great friend to every Nation in the region if they chose to, the issue is their Government. Communism is and has always been an enemy of all people who simply want to have some freedom in their lives. In a lot of ways I think well of their current President Mr. Xi Jinping but he has a blade at his throat if he decided to step out of line with the Ruling Communist Party Leadership. I have one thing to tell Mr. Trump that I hope he will tell the Leadership in Beijing and that is that we agree about the ‘One China Policy’.  The issue is that the Country of Taiwan is not China, there is China and there is the Country of Taiwan, one China, one Taiwan, not two China’s. Communist Leaders only respect one thing in other Leaders and that is strength. If a leader of a Country is weak, China or Russia or North Korea will dominate you and take away all of your freedoms.

 

People of Nations that are supposed to be America’s Allies have been very scared for at least the past 8 years minimum that the U.S. would not come to their aid if they are attacked. Our current President is far more likely to issue sanctions against a Nation attacking one of our Allies than to actually physically assist them at getting the knife away from their throat. In the real world of blood, sweat and fears, both responses must be able to be counted on for people to feel any sense of safety. America’s leaders have spent at least the last 8 years cowering down to Russia and to China and the world is a much more dangerous place because of these actions. We have been trying to destroy relationships with our real Allies like Israel while showing indecision and weakness as well as ignorance in Middle East foreign policies in places like Libya and Syria. I did not vote for Mr. Trump nor did I vote for Hillary but I am old enough and wise enough to know that if the U.S. doesn’t quit acting like cowards toward Russia and China and start acting like we have a backbone and some basic intelligence, very soon, we are not going to have any Allies.

The Ridiculous B.S. Jewish Families Had To Deal With Growing Up In Russia

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF DOLLY AT ‘KOOLKOSHERKITCHEN’

Hi, my name is Dolly. Actually, I am Devorah Yentl, but when I was born, clerks in communist Russia were not allowed to record names like that on a birth certificate. So the woman said to my mother, “Little girl, go and come back with a good Russian name.” My mother was little, that much was true, and at 4’11” she did look like a teenager. She wasn’t timid, though, and she did come back with a good Russian name, Dolly. As you can see, it starts with a D and ends with an L. To the clerk’s exasperated whisper, “But it’s still foreign!” she calmly opened a book she brought with her. Leo Tolstoy, the Russian classic, had Princess Dolly among his main characters in Anna Karenina. You couldn’t argue with Tolstoy, and thus it was duly recorded, in memory of my two great-grandmothers. Lest you think it only happened to Jews, I will refer you to a documentary about a famous Russian actress Lyudmila Gurchenko whose father wanted to name her Lucy. The clerk flatly refused to record a foreign name, suggesting “modern soviet names” Lenina, Stalina, Lelud (Lenin Loves Kids), or Dazdraperma (Long Live May 1st). They finally settled on an old Russian Lyudmila, but throughout her long and eventful life she was known as Lucy.

It wasn’t easy to keep kosher in communist Russia. You couldn’t go to a kosher store and buy anything, from soup to nuts, with a Hecksher,  the way it is in the US.  Here, chicken is already shechted for you, and cows conveniently label their own parts as “beef for stew.” As Yakov Smirnov used to say in the eponymous TV sitcom, “What a country!” For us, Cholov Israel meant my Zeide actually watching the milking process.  And when the shoichet was retired because his hands were shaking, Zeide would buy live chickens and shecht them himself. Since childhood, I was taught how to salt a chicken to drain all blood out of it, to make it kosher. When I bought my first kosher chicken in a Jewish store in America, I brought it home, cut it open, and to my horror, found a small clot of blood! I salted it and left it to drain as I had been taught. For quite a few years after that, I kept “kashering” kosher meat, just in case.

I am semi-retired, I love to cook, and I now have time on my hands to share my recipes and exchange new food ideas. My recipes are different from traditional American Jewish food. I invite you to explore, to experiment, and by all means, to get your kids involved in the magical fun of transforming this-that-and the other into something delicious to grace your table. This is truly better than I-pad, so what’s a little mess made by little hands, when there is lots of love and laughter!

This blog is dedicated to my children who have been incredibly supportive throughout an ordeal of my father’s illness and – Acharon, acharon… – to the memory of my father, a beautiful person loved by all.

Cuba’s Fidel Castro, former president, dies aged 90

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC NEWS AGENCY)

Cuba’s Fidel Castro, former president, dies aged 90

Fidel Castro. Photo: September 2010Image copyright AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Fidel Castro, Cuba’s former president and leader of the Communist revolution, has died aged 90, state TV has announced.

It provided no further details.

Fidel Castro ruled Cuba as a one-party state for almost half a century before handing over the powers to his brother Raul in 2008.

His supporters praised him as a man who had given Cuba back to the people. But his opponents accused him of brutally suppressing opposition.

In April, Fidel Castro gave a rare speech on the final day of the country’s Communist Party congress.

He acknowledged his advanced age but said Cuban communist concepts were still valid and the Cuban people “will be victorious”.

Here Is The Solution To The Kashmir Conflict: Both Parties Do This And The Conflict Is Over!

(HERE IS THE SOLUTION TO THE KASHMIR CONFLICT: BOTH PARTIES DO THIS AND THE CONFLICT IS OVER)

I am going to write this article as a ‘Medium’! I have never been able to afford a trip to Kashmir and my health these days would never allow me to go even if I could afford to do so. I am basing my decision on the plethora of articles that have been written on the area and the conflict that has been raging there for years. Some of the articles were written by professional News Paper Reporters but most have been written by tourist and by people whom have lived there at different points in their lives. There are a few reasons that I believe that a person like me is qualified to write this article whether you think so or not and I will explain them to you now. I am a person who has absolutely nothing to gain or to lose concerning the conflict there. I know no one there and I have no business interest there, I am simply an unconnected observer who simply wants peace for all people on both sides of the issue. The other thing is that I am totally honest and unbiased, I am not against either Nation, I only wish peace and prosperity for all people on both sides. Also, I am a Christian, I am not Hindu nor am I a believer of Islam I have no ties at all to India nor to Pakistan.

 

In compromises the results are usually that neither side is overjoyed nor is either side really over the top mad. You gain and you lose in a good compromise. In this case I am going to bring up two main results of my compromise that are directly aimed at both sides equally. First though, all sides of the current (LoC) Line of Control must at once stop all aggression toward everyone. Doing this does many things, first and foremost it helps keep the soldiers and civilians alive and uninjured on both sides of this Line of Control. If all offensive actions stop the people of the region can once again open their stores and factories and be allowed to walk their streets in safety. This constant state of aggression does nothing positive for the citizens on either side of this ‘border’. If your side of the border has ‘militants’ who refuse to quit trying to kill people then the government and the soldiers from that side of the border must neutralize these aggressors at once. Neither side can allow a hand full of hate filled animals to start a full-blown war with your neighbors. Whether it is soldiers or militia units the government must make it plain that any aggressors will be put in prison for the rest of their lives, or executed if they continue to try to cause this war. If this is implemented on both sides, there is no more violence on either side of the (LoC).

 

I am going to address the issue of the Kashmir Border with you now. This conflict between India and Pakistan has resulted in nothing but death to soldiers and civilians on both side for years now, the conflict is not a positive issue for the people on either side. The Leaders of both Countries must step up and order a total stop of all aggression, if they are Leaders then they both need to act like it. I am going to suggest that the ‘unmovable Border’ be exactly where the ‘Line of Control’ is right now. Both sides have been dealing with this line in the sand for years now, make this line the official Border right now! This concept is sort of like the issue with the two Korea’s. There was a long bloody war where the Armies fought up and down that peninsula for years causing the death of thousands of soldiers and civilians until they finally settled on a Border at the 38 parallel that is also called the DMZ or demilitarized zone. That conflict is more about nonreligious ideologies of freedom and Capitalism or Communism and no freedom. Your conflict goes back to the time of Mr. Gandhi when you became two Nations instead of just one. Your conflict is now and was then about your Religions, Hindu and Islam. Pakistan was created because the Islamic people who lived in India wanted their own Islamic Nation once India was freed from the British Crown in 1948. That was almost 70 years ago and yet people are still dying there. Each side blames the other, one side shells the other and kills a few people so the other side will retaliate and does the same thing. The Political Leaders and the Military Leaders must call a total truce on both sides and they must punish any of their own who break this truce at once, they must not tolerate anyone who breaks the truce. For the good of your own people the Leaders on both sides must grow up right now or this conflict will last forever or until both sides blow each other off the map with their nukes and what would that event profit any of you, you will all be dead!

Does President Putin Have Dreams Of Creating Russia Into The Proverbial 4th Reich

 

Today on the Google News that I use as my computer’s homepage I noticed an article about Russia retreating from the International Criminal Court (ICC) via the direction of President Putin. To be honest with you I was surprised to hear that they actually belonged to it. The reason I was surprised is because the United States does not belong to it and as far as I know, China doesn’t either. In my belief either every Nation on Earth should belong to it or no Nation should. For most of my adult lifetime (born in 1956) it has seemed that only African Nations and some Eastern European Nations have been accused under its jurisdiction. I am not a person that looks forward to a one World Nation situation even though I know it is coming. When the UN or the Hague speak of War Crimes a lot of us older folks think of Germany under Hitler yet they did not charge Japan’s Emperor Hirohito. We have used such Courts to convict and to hang ‘War Criminals’ like Saddam in Iraq and Generals in Serbia and deposed Presidential butchers throughout Africa but never a ‘Western-World’ Leader. So yes, I was surprised to hear that Russia was a consenting member of the ICC.

 

In the media here in the U.S. we have been hearing of ‘possible’ war crimes being committed in Syria by ISIS and other ‘Rebel’ groups as well as by the Government of Syria via their President Mr. Assad. We are also now hearing that ‘War Crimes’ may be being committed by the Russian Military under the leadership of President Putin. I guess this would be a real good reason for Mr. Putin to have Russia withdrawn from the umbrella of the ICC so that he and or his Generals cannot be arrested and brought before that court. Personally if I were him I would have done so a long time ago. Before any of my fellow Americans get all uppity with me on this issue you need to remember that we do not belong to the ICC either. If we did belong to it would former President George W. Bush, former VP Dick Cheney, and former Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld  not have all swung from their gallows long ago for their actions in Iraq?

 

Now to the main issue of this article concerning President Putin. It is my own personal belief that the American Media, Hollywood, and our idiotic Politicians created President Putin. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in November of 1989 and the fall of the Soviet Union these three groups of idiots constantly belittled Russia in every form and medium. They portrayed the Russian people as backward, lazy and stupid. They trounced on them without mercy as a vanquished enemy instead of a future friend and Ally. These idiots gloated over, stomped on and spit all over the National Pride of the people of Russia without mercy. President Putin when he came to power started to rebuild the integrity of the Russian Country and their people. In my belief he was exactly what the people of Russia needed at that time. The Communists Russian Government fell in 1989 for many good reasons, among them was how horribly they treated their own citizens. If the ‘West’ had only made fun of the flaws of the Communist system and not of the Russian people, Mr. Putin would still be hiding in his closet bowing to his KGB Uniform in private. Mr. Putin should have helped bring in a new level of friendship with the people of the U.S. but how do you make yourself grow closer to someone who is laughing at and mocking your people? The answer is, you don’t.

 

President Putin is a very wise human being and he is a very strong Leader yet it would have been better for the World as a whole if he had only served his first two terms as their President then retired to a villa on the Baltic. 2008, Georgia, a chance for Mr. Putin to regain some National pride for the Russian people. Question for you, how do the Leaders of Countries usually do this? The answer is through their military, a huge Nation goes to war with a little Nation and squashes it. Just my opinion but the former President of Georgia was acting like an idiot by flaunting issue differences in Mr. Putin’s face and he got himself and his country spanked. American politicians have done the same kind of things before like with Cuba in the Spanish-American War, Granada, and Panama. Mr. Putin has restored the pride of the people of Russia yet at the same time it appears he has fallen back into his KGB mindset.

 

President Putin has taken total control of all aspects of Russian Society and when any leader/government does this it always means that the people of their Country lose their freedoms, their lively hoods and sometimes, their lives. President Putin is making some grave mistakes in his dealings with Iran though not so much with his dealings with President Assad in Syria. Even though Mr. Putin’s Mother was a Christian it seems that her knowledge was not passed down to him. Syria under Mr. Assad was much more secular even though it was obvious that he was by no means a Saint, Iran on the other hand is all about the Islamic religion, they are a total different mindset. In Syria Russia has had a major Naval Base for several decades, they were already allies. To not realise that Mr. Putin would step in to help secure his Ally was very short-sighted of Western Leaders. With the selling of 10 billion dollars worth of military equipment to Iran Mr. Putin is giving a ruthless murderer that is up against Russia’s underbelly the weapons that he will sooner or later turn against the Russian people.

 

In my online dictionary I looked up the word ‘Reich’ to make sure of its definition before I used it in this title. The dictionary said that the word ‘Reich’ is from “old High German”. This should not surprise many of us as we have grown up hearing of Hitler and Germany’s 3rd Reich. Hitler considered the First Reich to be the Roman Empire and the Second was under Mr. Bismark during the 1880’s. He did not consider the German Government during World War One to be a ‘Reich’ as he considered it to be weak and not worthy of the title. Then of course Hitler thought his Germany would last a thousand years, he was only wrong by about 990 years. As far as English usage is concerned the dictionary says there was only one ‘Reich’ and it was the Germany of 1871-1945. Here is where I am tying Mr. Putin into the word and the world of “Reich”. The definition of ‘Reich’ is (Empire, Realm, Nation). I believe that President Putin, in his mind, is trying to return to a system of Communism/Czarism. Mr. Putin has made it clear that he is not one who believes in Democracy or Capitalism, but he does believe in Communism and the policies of the old KGB. His actions have proven without a doubt that he has no intention of ever letting go of power in Russia. I am sure he does not want to be known by the German word Führer which means ‘Leader, to lead’ so, maybe, will Mr. Putin decide to someday proclaim himself to be Czar Putin so that he can disperse of the need for future phony elections all together? Remember, ‘Reich’, the Nation/Empire of the ‘New’ Soviet Union under the Realm or Leadership of Czar Putin? I’m just saying, is it possible?

Is Hong Kong Set To Go Up In Flames As The People Buck Against Communist Leaders?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘TIME’)

HONG KONG

Hong Kong Protest Turns Violent as Anxiety Over China’s Interference Rises

Police stop demonstrators as they protest in Hong Kong
Tyrone Siu—Reuters Police stop demonstrators as they protest against what they call Beijing’s interference over local politics and the rule of law in Hong Kong, China November 6, 2016.

Police used pepper spray and batons on protesters who stormed a barricade

A massive protest in Hong Kong turned violent Sunday night when demonstrators attempted to storm a police barricade outside the Chinese government’s headquarters, prompting officers to retaliate with pepper spray and batons.

The protest began peacefully earlier in the day: with thousands of people marching across town to decry Beijing’s controversial decision this week to effectively decide the fate of two radical lawmakers who call for the semi-autonomous territory’s outright independence from China. The maverick legislators, 25-year-old Yau Wai-ching and 30-year-old Sixtus “Baggio” Leung, who came to political prominence in the wake of the 2014 pro-democracy protests, have been the subject of scandal since they gave their oaths of office on Oct. 12. The pair refused to pledge allegiance to Hong Kong’s constitution, the Basic Law, and instead swore fealty to the “Hong Kong Nation” — the oath required them to swear allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China.

Read More: China Will Intervene in the Case of Hong Kong’s Pro-Independence Lawmakers

On Friday, the Hong Kong government announced that Beijing would step in and interpret the Basic Law accordingly to decide if Yau and Leung would still be able to take their seats. The issue is currently being decided in a local court, but at a meeting on Sunday with Hong Kong’s representatives to Beijing, Zhang Xiaoming, mainland China’s most senior official in Hong Kong, said Beijing would “absolutely” not permit pro-independence politicians to serve as lawmakers, according to the South China Morning Post.

Beijing’s actions in the matter have widely been seen as a violation of Hong Kong’s constitutional principle known as “one country, two systems,” enacted in 1997 when the British returned the former colony to China.

Under this system, Hong Kongers maintain the right to freedom of speech and protest, freedoms that citizens of mainland China do not enjoy. On Sunday, as many as 10,000 people marched nearly 2.5 miles from the district of Wan Chai to the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government, Beijing’s nerve center in the territory. The demonstrators were civil but spirited, speaking out against what they say is Chinese encroachment in Hong Kong and a local government that has failed to defend their constitutional rights.

Read More: Court in Hong Kong Hears Case Against Two Pro-Independence Lawmakers

“The [Chinese government] stepped over the line. It’s a blatant violation of the Basic Law to take the initiative to interpret it,” 25-year-old Francis Chung, who works in the financial sector, tells TIME. “I’m rather pessimistic regarding Hong Kong’s way forward, but I’ll do what I can, come out and march.”

When the crowd approached the Liaison Office, however, they faced a police barricade. Prominent activist figures like 20-year-old Joshua Wong, a figurehead of the 2014 pro-democracy protests known as the Umbrella Revolution, gave rousing speeches.

“It’s time for us to show our disagreement with the communist regime’s suppression of Hong Kong’s rule of law and judicial independence,” Wong tells TIME. “The number of participants of today’s protest to the Liaison Office is the highest in three years. It shows the anger of Hong Kongers with the suppression.”

It is unclear what or who prompted some members of the crowd to storm the police barricade shortly after 8 p.m. local time. In the preceding hour, officers unfurled banners urging the protesters to stop charging or they would use force. After beating back demonstrators with their batons, the police used pepper spray. Still, the crowd continued to push against the metal grate, unfurling umbrellas — an icon of the Umbrella Revolution — to protect themselves.

The scuffle was promptly subdued, but as of 9:15 p.m. demonstrators continued to occupy the streets around the Liaison Office.

Read More: Chaos Again at Hong Kong’s Legislature as Chinese Intervention Said to Loom Large

The protest marked the crescendo of months of simmering political tensions in Hong Kong. Hostility towards what many see as China’s impingement on the city has mounted since late last year, when five local booksellers, who sold works critical of mainland leaders, disappeared and resurfaced months later in the custody of mainland police. The unease precipitated an unprecedented movement demanding Hong Kong’s independence from China — a call deemed seditious by mainland authorities and also the Hong Kong government, seen by many as Beijing’s proxy power. Several pro-independence candidates were barred from running in the Sept. 4 Legislative Council elections.

When asked in an interview with TIME on Saturday — less than 24 hours before Sunday’s clashes — if she believed the popular unrest in Hong Kong would grow violent, and if she would join in if it did, Yau replied in the affirmative.

“I’m the people’s lawmaker, and I have to give my support to them,” she said. “I’ve taken my oath to them.”

The People Of Russia, China And U.S. Aren’t Enemy’s: Only Our Leaders Are That Stupid

 

The people of the great country’s of Russia and America have no interest in killing each other. Both of our nations people want the same things, peace, prosperity and security for ourselves and our families. We the people of almost all nations do not want warfare, only Generals, people in the ‘security agencies’, and people who make the war machines want armed conflicts with each other. It is only they and a few ignorant morons in the Kremlin and in the West Wing at the White House would ever wish such ignorance to exist. The people of Russia and the people of the United States know that there is over a billion people on this planet who hate all of us, but it is not each other! The average citizen of both country’s want a good roof over their heads, enough food for our families, transportation, heat and air conditioning, lights, and the trash to get picked up off our streets at least once a week. It is the job of our governments to provide these things in exchange for their salaries and benefit packages. It is not their jobs to try to cause wars with other nations people for the end results of such stupidity is always the same, a lot of dead innocent civilians.

 

I knew that from the time the Berlin wall fell in November of 1989 up until the time that President Putin first took office in 1999 that the American politicians and Holly Wood movies painting all of Russia, their leaders, and their military as a bunch of incompetent clowns, that they were making a huge mistake. Russia’s former Communist military leaders, and KGB leaders did what all such people do, they threw incompetence and graft destroy their own country’s and imprison their own people. Those who dare disagree with them or point their evil out to the public or their shortfalls end up dead or in prison. Holly Wood, our political leaders, and our military leaders just kept stepping all over the pride of the people of the great country of Russia and quite frankly they were doing this same thing toward China. These idiots kept saying that America was the ‘ last remaining super power’ while stomping all over the national pride of these great nations.

 

Russia, America, and China all have one common enemy and only fools pit us against each other when we all have an enemy that wants everyone in all three of these nations to die as quickly as possible. What appears obvious to me is that none of our top leaders seem to understand the level of the danger they are putting their own people in by dividing their attention away from our real enemy. All three of these nations leaders are making huge mistakes by working against each other when we should all be striving to be economic and security partners. This common enemy of all the nations on Earth is the religion of Islam. China, Russia, and the United States have all lost thousands of our innocent men, women and children to this religion that is based in pure hate. The President of the great people of China, Mr. XI seems far more interested in expanding his military reach to the east and south when he should know damn well that their real enemy lies at their west and southwest.

 

This article today though is mostly about the leaders of Russia and America. I am directly speaking about President Putin and President Obama. This paragraph is going to be about President Obama thus saving the end of the article to talk to President Putin. Those of you who follow this blog know that I have followed the career of Mr. Obama since he became a Senator for the State of Illinois about ten years ago. As I have stated several times the opinion that I formed of him ten years ago has not changed in that everything he has done as the President has only strengthened that opinion of him. This opinion is that he is and has always been via his faith system a Shiite and he is no friend to any of our three nations. The world suffered through eight years of the war criminal George W Bush then we get a President who is nothing short of a traitor (my opinion/belief).

 

I would like to finish this article talking about President Putin of Russia. When President Putin first took office in 1999 I understood the Russian people voting in “a strong man”, a man of guts and a strong will. President Putin was able to help the nation to regain its pride and swagger and that is a very good thing but his efforts to spread his ‘military wings’ has been at the expense of the lives and lively hood of the Russian people. If Mr. Putin had retired after those first ten years in office his people would be in much better shape financially than they are today. From the outside looking in it appears that Mr. Putin has been doing his best to revert the country back to having a Communist Dictator, himself. President Putin, just like President Obama, have been working with and cutting deals only Shiite Islamic nations and kicking sand in the face of the Sunni nations. President Obama has an excuse being that he is a Shiite, but what the heck is President Putin thinking? The people of these Islamic believing nations hate the guts of all the Russian and American people. There is no such thing as having any of them as ‘a friend or ally’. I totally understood President Putin’s stance on backing President Hafez al-Assad of Syria (Shiite) being that he allowed Russia to have a Naval Base located there. It obviously didn’t hurt that Syria for an Islamic country was quite secular in its makeup. But now that Syria is in this horrible civil war President Putin has become cozier with the Shiite governments of Iraq and of Iran which makes all the Sunni nations like Saudi Arabia very upset.

 

The leaders of these big three nations had better wake up very soon and decide to come together to combat the terminal cancer which is Islam itself. If the leaders of Russia, China, and America do not wise up and stop trying to show each other who has the biggest cannon they will all three drown in the blood of their own people. The people of Russia, China, and America are not each others enemy, we have no interest in these ‘military games’. From this side of the ocean it appears that President Putin has gone rogue on his own people and is steeling all of Russia’s wealth for himself and his associates. That sounds just like the Republicans and the Democrats here in America. These three leaders, these three governments must work together as trading partners and friends otherwise it is the people of the world, not just our three country’s that will go up in black flag induced smoke.

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