The Market Shall Set North Korea Free by Jang Jin-Sung, New York Times, Op-ed

NEW YORK TIMES
OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

The Market Shall Set North Korea Free

Sung Choi
By JANG JIN-SUNG
Published: April 26, 2013

Seoul

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I DEFECTED from North Korea in 2004. I decided to risk my life to leave my home country — where I worked as a psychological warfare officer for the government — when it finally sunk in that there are two North Koreas: one real and the other a fiction created by the regime.

Although in my job I had access to foreign media, books with passages containing criticism of our Dear Leader Kim Jong-il or his revered father, Kim Il-sung, had large sections blacked out. One day, out of deep curiosity, I made up an excuse to stay behind at work to decipher the redacted words of a history book.

I locked the office door and put the pages against a window. Light from outside made the words under the ink perfectly clear. I read voraciously. I stayed late at work again and again to learn my country’s real history — or at least another view of it.

Most shocking was what I discovered about the Korean War. We had been taught all of our lives how an invasion by the South had triggered the conflict. Yet now I was reading that not only South Korea but the rest of the world believed the North had started the war. Who was right?

It was after my harrowing defection — in which I bribed my way to a border crossing and escaped by running across a frozen river to China — that I recognized the existence of a third North Korea: a theoretical one. This is the North Korea constructed by the outside world, a piecemeal analysis of the regime and its propaganda that misses the political and economic realities of the country.

All of us at the United Front Department — also known as “the window into and out of North Korea” — learned three tenets of diplomacy by heart: 1. Pay no attention to South Korea. 2. Exploit Japan’s emotions. 3. Ply the United States with lies, but make sure they are logical ones.

Kim Jong-il stressed the importance of these three tenets as the framework within which we were required to implement his vision for Pyongyang’s foreign relations. North Korea’s dealings with South Korea, Japan and the United States always hewed closely to these principles.

Our department’s mission was to deceive our people and the world, doing what was necessary to keep our leader in power. We openly referred to talks with South Korea as “aid farming,” because while Seoul sought dialogue through its so-called Sunshine Policy, we saw it as an opening not for diplomatic progress but for extracting as much aid as possible. We also successfully bought time for our nuclear program through the endless marathon of the six-party talks.

Despite Pyongyang’s deceptive ways, many people in the outside world continue to believe in the theoretical North Korea in which dialogue with the regime is seen as the way to effect change. But I know from my years inside the government that talking will not get Pyongyang to turn any corners, not even with the North’s current leader, Kim Jong-un.

Dialogue will never entice the regime to give up its nuclear weapons; the nuclear program is tightly linked to its survival. And talks will not lead to change over the long term; the regime sees them only as a tool for extracting aid. High-level diplomacy is no strategy for getting the regime to make economic reforms. The key to change lies outside the sway of the regime — in the flourishing underground economy.

All North Koreans depended for their very survival on a state rationing system until it collapsed in the mid-1990s. Its demise was due in part to the regime’s concentrated investment of funds in a “party economy” that maintained the cult of the Kims and lavished luxuries on an elite instead of developing a normal economy based on domestic production and trade. Desperate people began to barter household goods for rice on the streets — and the underground economy was born. With thousands of people starving to death, the authorities had no option but to turn a blind eye to all the illegal markets that began to pop up.

Around this time, the nation’s workplaces were made responsible for feeding their employees. The only way they could do so was by setting up “trading companies,” which sold raw materials to China in exchange for rice. These businesses became part of the foundation of the underground economy, acting as import-export hubs that in time began to import from China consumer goods like refrigerators and radios.

Likewise, party officials started to take part in wheeling and dealing, profiting through bribe-collecting and prohibited financing activities. Nowadays the party is so deeply involved in the market economy that the “trading companies” are staffed by the children of party officials and openly operate on behalf of the party and military. In short, all of North Korea has come to rely on a market economy, and no place in the country is untouched by it.

The social effect of the rise of the market has been extraordinary: The umbilical cord between the individual and the state has been severed. In the people’s eyes, loyalty to the state has been replaced by the value of hard cash. And the U.S. greenback is the currency of choice.

Trading with their U.S. dollars (many of which are counterfeit) for Chinese products, North Koreans have come to recognize the existence of leaders greater even than the Kims. Who are these men gracing U.S. bank notes? North Koreans now see that loyalty to the supreme leader has brought no tangible benefits; yet currency bearing the faces of American men is exchanged for many things: rice, meat, even a promotion at work.

Today, when North Koreans are ordered by their state employer to take part in political activities, they know their time is being wasted. Fewer North Koreans show up for their state jobs. This growing economic and psychological independence among regular people is becoming the greatest thorn in the regime’s side.

It is also the key to change. Instead of focusing on the regime and its agents as possible instigators of reform, we must recognize the power of the flourishing marketplace to slowly but definitively transform North Korea from the bottom up. This empowerment of the North Korean people is crucial not only for a positive transformation of the nation, but also for ensuring a stable transition to the new era after the regime eventually goes.

Increasing trade with China has made the North Korean border porous in many ways, facilitating a flow of information in and out of the country. Many North Koreans can now access South Korean television programs that are smuggled in on DVDs or memory sticks.

One way to accelerate change would be by continuing to broadcast into the country so that North Koreans can access outside radio programming on their illegal devices more easily. Another is to support the work of North Korean exiles, who are a conduit of goods and liberal ideas across the border.

Talks with Pyongyang can only offer temporary solutions to manufactured crises. And I can say from my experience, they encourage only more deception from the North. Looking at North Korea from below, building on the market realities on the ground, is the only effective way to make the regime reform — or go.

Jang Jin-sung, a former North Korean state official and poet laureate, is editor in chief of New Focus International, a Web site on North Korean affairs. This article was translated from the Korean by Shirley Lee.

 http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/27/opinion/global/The-Market-Shall-Set-North-Korea-Free.html?ref=northkorea&_r=0

 

Peony Literary Agency is delighted to announce a publishing contract for Jang Jin-sung and Shirley Lee for Crossing the Border

ACQUISITION PRESS RELEASE – 12 APRIL 2014

Jang photo

Random House imprint Rider is delighted to announce the acquisition of CROSSING THE BORDER by Jang Jin-Sung.  Jang Jin-Sung is former State Poet Laureate in North Korea. He was forced to flee to South Korea when a censored document in his possession went missing. Shirley Lee will be working on the adaptation.

Crossing the Border  is an extraordinary glimpse into life in North Korea. It details meetings with Kim Jong II and reveals the extreme poverty of ordinary North Koreans living under one of the harshest dictatorships in modern times.  Jang Jin-Sung’s account of his break for freedom is riveting and reads like a thriller, full of suspense.

Rider Publishing Director Judith Kendra, in a pre-emptive deal, bought World rights exc USA, Canada, Korea and Japan, from Marysia Juszczakiewicz of the Peony Literary Agency.

Kendra said ‘It is so rare to read a first-person account from North Korea. To publish one so gripping and courageous is a priviledge’

Jang Jin-Sung said ‘To have come all this way from the totalitarian state is such a blessing. I will give this book everything I have’

Rider will publish in Spring 2014.

 

Peony Literary Agency is a one of the most prolific multi-lingual literary agencies based in Asia. A small but ambitious and client centred business, it represents a number of Asia’s leading and new authors who explore both contemporary and historical Asia It has sold rights into over 20 countries worldwide for its clients during the last two years

Different perspectives … compelling new voices…. Peony brings the authentic and compelling literature of  Asia to publishers worldwide.

For further details please contact Marysia Juszczakiewicz at Peony Literary Agency:

marysia@peonyliteraryagency.com

www.peonyliteraryagency.com

Peony Literary Agency Rights Deals

DEALS

Peony Literary Agency is delighted to announce latest sales into simplified and complex Chinese

CHINA

The Lost and Forgotten Languages of Shanghai by Xu Ruiyan, represented by Chandler Crawford Agency, sold to Citic Press

Alveridgea by Ivan Clarke, published by Atlantic Press, sold to Tianjin Chinese- World Books

Monsieur Proust’s Library by Anka Muhlstein, published by Other Press, sold to Flower City Publishing House

Balzac’s Omelette by Anka Muhlstein, represented by Borchardt Agency, sold to Flower City Publishing House

American Shaolin by Matthew Polly, represented by Gersh Agency, sold to Shanghai Translation Press

Why Are Jews Successful by Nechemia Rotenberg, represented by Asia Publishers, sold to Tianjin Chinese-World Books

All Children can be Einstein by Fernando Alberca sold to Shanghai Translation Press

Beauvoir in Love by Irene Frain, published by Michel Lafon, sold to Thinkingdom PROUST by Patricia Mante-Proust & Mireille Naturel, published by Michel

Lafon, sold to Beijing Times

Dangerous Work by Arthur Conan Doyle, represented by Edwards Fuglewicz Literary Agency, sold to Modern Press

Secrets Rich Jewish Know by Zvika Bergman, represented by Asia Publishers, sold to Tianjin Chinese-World Books

Tired of London, Tired of Life by Tom Jones, published by Ebury Publishing, sold to Tianjin Chinese-World Books

TAIWAN

Her Giant Octopus Moment by Kay Langdale, represented by Edwards Fuglewicz Literary Agency, sold to Spring International

Monsieur Proust’s Library by Anka Muhlstein, published by Other Press, sold to New Century Press

Balzac’s Omelette by Anka Muhlstein, represented by Borchardt Agency, sold to New Century Press

The Deep Whatsis by Peter Mattei, published by Other Press, sold to China Times Le Luce Nelle Case degli Altri by Chiara Gamberale, represented by Luigi

Bernabo Associates, sold to Business Weekly

Revolution 2020 by Chetan Bhagat, published by Rupa Publications, sold to Business Weekly

Dangerous Work by Arthur Conan Doyle, represented by Edwards Fuglewicz Literary Agency, sold to Locus Publishing

Six Habits of Highly Emphatic People by Roman Krznaric, published by Ebury Publishing, sold to Eurasian Publishing Group

Peony Literary Agency is a one of the most prolific multi-lingual literary agencies based in Asia. A small but ambitious and client centred business, it represents a number of Asia’s leading and new authors. It has sold rights into over 20 countries worldwide for its clients during the last two years

 

Download PDF file here - Peony Rights Deals

PRESS RELEASE

Peony Literary Agency is delighted to announce a publishing deal for Peony client, Chan Koonchung. The Bare Truth about Champa The Driver, Chan’s second novel, will be published in English by Jane Lawson, at Transworld UK

 

February 2013, Chan Koonchung’s sexually explicit novel, The Bare Truth about Champa, explores politically explosive issues in China today – relations between Han Chinese and Tibetans. Chan goes where no other Chinese writer has gone before. Transworld plan to publish in 2014.

Chan’s first novel, The Fat Years, has been translated into nearly 20 languages, with over 100,000 printed copies worldwide. He is a publisher and journalist, and lives in Beijing.

Peony Literary Agency is a one of the most prolific multilingual literary agencies based in Asia. A small but ambitious and client centred business, it represents a number of Asia’s leading and new authors. It has sold rights into over 20 countries worldwide for its clients during the last two years

 

For further details please contact Marysia Juszczakiewicz at Peony Literary Agency:

marysia@peonyliteraryagency.com

www.peonyliteraryagency.com Click here to read more »

严歌苓否认版权千万起步 称当电视剧编剧还是新兵

来源:广州日报

和任何大牌合作都有原则

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How does North Korea make its money?

CNN

By Susannah Cullinane

 

(CNN) — There’s a reason that the historical nickname of the “Hermit Kingdom” for the old unified Korea is now applied to the closed North Korea – officially known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

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