On Friday I came across a Chosun Ilbo article that reports that according to a global happiness index compiled by North Korean “researchers,” China is the happiest country in the world followed by North Korea, as reported on MSNBC. What is that supposed to mean?
I have been interested in North Korea, and have therefore read numerous articles as well as watched numerous documentaries and amateur videos shot in the Secret State. My conclusions on the regime there have always been consistent – that everything in the most isolated country in the world is always about the Dear Leader Kim Jong-Il and his father Kim Il-Sung, the Great Leader, who is still the country’s President even though he died 17 years ago. The privileged people in Pyongyang never miss to express their gratitude to the Kim Jong-Il and Kim Il-Sung, and always claim in front of visitors from abroad that whatever they do in their lives, and for their lives, is because they want to make the Dear Leader happy.
The North Korean happiness “index” is made up so that the “standings” look the way the North Korean government would want them to look for the following reasons:
there are no explanations about the way the North Korean “researchers” calculated the “index” or what it included
the “standings” are not even shown in full. Instead, there are the top five countries, South Korea and the United States only
When I read that news article on the Chosun Ilbo, three interpretations of the “data” immediately came to my mind. The first is that the North Korean government wants to send a clear message to the world – that top five is comprised of North Korea and its four closest allies: China (1), Cuba (3), Iran (4), and Venezuela (5). China, as we know, is the country’s closest ally, and therefore its first place in these “rankings” shouldn’t surprise anyone. The only debate, as mocking to North Korea as it sounds, is whether the way the two countries are ranked would actually put the beginning of the North Koreans’ questioning the regime in their country because the “data” apparently shows that life in North Korea is not perfect. It’s in fact worse than life in China.
Cuba and Iran are very likely third and fourth because Cuba has had, and still has, extremely unfriendly and antagonistic relations with the United States, while Iran is not only another anti-American country but both the Islamic Republic and North Korea allegedly help each other with their nuclear programs. And while Venezuela also allegedly maintains good relations with North Korea and Iran, it is not as close an ally to the Secret State as the countries above it presumably are.
The second interpretation that I see is in the way the countries are ranked is that the North Korean government is sending a message to the rest of the world as to who its allies are and who its enemies are.
There is a third interpretation too, and it involves regime and ideology. On the regime aspects – China, Cuba, Iran and Venezuela have a history of oppressing their own people by largely denying them basic human rights and access to information. Meanwhile, on the ideology aspect – all four countries, except for Iran, have officially embraced communism, and are led by communist or socialist parties. Both aspects illustrate the North Korean regime, and by this “index” the North Korean government is sending a message to its people that the “American Empire” is the worst enemy of their nation whose other half – South Korea – is kept in that evil empire’s poisonous grasp. This message, while predictable to the outside world, is very likely to wash away any possible questioning of the North Korean regime considering that the Chinese people live happier lives, according to the “index.”
What makes the North Korean “index” even more pathetic is that it is not even the government’s idea. It allegedly copied from Chinese local governments’ project to measure their residents’ happiness. Nice try, Dear Leader!