Saturday, 28 September 2013

In praise of the North Korean Diet

Gareth Morgan is featured in today's Christchurch Press. Alas, no online version. From Nikki Macdonald's article:
He's barely off the plane after a 40,000-kilometre ride across Russia and Korea. Controversy trailed after him like his billowing motorcycle exhaust, with critics accusing him of becoming a propaganda pawn on his six-year-in-the-planning tour of North Korea.
But he's still gushing about the experience, and how he lost 6kg in the absence of the processed food - "crap basically" - that dominates the New Zealand food supply. That and the fact there was less food in general, and the wine was terrible. 
There it's all whole food, that fills you up, takes longer to eat and delivers more nutrients for less energy.
And there, in a nutshell, is the thrust of Morgan's new book, Appetite for Destruction, co-written with offsider Geoff Simmons. Fake food, he says, is killing us.
Ah, the wonders of North Korea. Where there is no fake food to kill them.

For another take, here's Asia News:
Juche, the ideology of self-reliance launched by dictator Kim Il-sung in the 1950s, is wiping out North Korea. So many North Koreans are hungry that they are resorting to eating wild grasses, when they find it, or just starving to death. Looming on the horizon is a popular uprising that might lead to a mass exodus to the South, this according to officials from five US-based aid agencies who have sounded the alarm after returning from a trip to North Korea....“It is all true,” a Korean source told AsiaNews. “People have nothing to eat. I have seen personally children eat dirt."
Dirt: it fills you up and takes longer to digest. Low carb I suppose. And see here and here and here.

Note: updated to correct a couple of typos helpfully pointed out in comments.

Update: The UN Commission of Inquiry is still accepting submissions on the human rights situation in Korea. I hope Morgan submits his travelogue. Here's what they've been hearing so far:
“Unspeakable atrocities” reported by the UN Inquiry into the Human Rights Situation in North Korea

The head of a UN-appointed inquiry into human rights in North Korea reported Tuesday that testimony heard so far by his panel pointed to widespread and serious violations in every area it had been asked to investigate.

“What we have seen and heard so far – the specificity, detail and shocking character of the personal testimony – appears without doubt to demand follow-up action by the world community, and accountability on the part of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” Michael Kirby, chair of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the DPRK, said in an oral update to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council.

While the inquiry’s final conclusions and recommendations must await the end of the investigation and a final report in March, Kirby told the council that testimonies received in a series of just-completed public hearings in South Korea and Japan indicated a large-scale pattern of abuse that may constitute systematic and gross human rights violations in the DPRK. He cited a host of alleged abuses, ranging from abductions, torture and a policy of inter-generational punishment to arbitrary detention in prison camps marked by deliberate starvation and “unspeakable atrocities.”

“We heard from ordinary people who faced torture and imprisonment for doing nothing more than watching foreign soap operas or holding a religious belief,” said Kirby, a retired Australian judge with broad international experience.

“Women and men who exercised their human right to leave the DPRK and were forcibly repatriated spoke about their experiences of torture, sexual violence, inhumane treatment and arbitrary detention. Family members of persons abducted from the Republic of Korea and Japan described the agony they endured ever since the enforced disappearance of their loved ones at the hands of agents of the DPRK…”
The Commission has made its hearings public. Why?
18. How will greater public awareness improve the human rights situation in North Korea?
Despite the fact that many testimonies about the human rights situation in DPRK have been provided, including through televised programs in South Korea, much of the world remains largely unaware of the scale of the problem. By hearing testimonies in public, the Commission of Inquiry hopes to raise the profile of this issue -- not just with a general international audience, but also with members of the United Nations. A video recording of the hearings will also be made available to all members of the Human Rights Council. It is hoped that the testimony will eventually be added to appropriate websites and available online to the public and the international community.  
But maybe what we really need are bike tours talking about the wonders of the North Korean diet.


  1. "no fake food to kill you"

    ... which explains the 69.51 life expectancy at birth in North Korea and the 80.82 in New Zealand!

    (Both 2013 estimates)

  2. I really hope "sex-year-in-the-making" is a typo.

  3. That'll teach me to type when kids are jumping all over me... I caught a half dozen other typos at least

  4. Also:

    "There is was all whole food, that"

    That wouldn't have happened to you in North Korea, where kids need to save their limited energy for more important stuff.