For all practical purposes, North Korea is a mothball in the name of a democracy and a state limping in political decay. Where other nations have civilian life, North Korea rules over its hapless population with an iron-fist. Where other countries grant their democracies the freedom to vote and elect a government, North Korea presides over its helpless with a totalitarian regime.
Recently, when news of one North Korean defector Charles Ryu became public- heads were turned and hopes were raised in utter astonishment. Charles Ryu was barely 11 in 2005, when like many decapitated fortunes in the anarchy, he fell down on his luck and came on the streets. His mother had died of starvation and he practically had no place else to go to.
Soon, like many homeless children of North Korea, Charles Ryu learned to make a quick buck or two, often by means of illegal-trading. In the event of harsher food rations being imposed, someone had to do something in order to survive.
But life, away from the strangulation of suffering often presented a moment of reprieve for North Korea’s young homeless kids. There would always be an odd English movie or two that kids would get to lay their hands onto. So Charles Ryu, would often sell movies to his friends upon copying some blockbusters on his memory stick.
Soon, the exposure to Hollywood and foreign media helped Charles Ryu to escape his fractured homeland and he would move out to the United States. Unbelievably so, in 2008, when Ryu was barely 14 when he crossed into the border and reached China. To this day, he credits James Bond flicks and Tom Cruise’ movies as being the successes behind his miraculous escape.
Movies, according to Charles Ryu, made him curious about life and the prospect of actually having one outside of North Korea. Fed up of lies home-grown and brain-washed into the eggshell fragile minds of young folks like him; that North Korea is way more richer than South Korea et cetera; Ryu eventually escaped.
But implicit to Ryu’s surprise eloping from North Korea are foreign culture and Western media, both of which are highly influential in the dictatorial state. That word of mouth information shared between many of North Korea’s millennials- who possess access to foreign affairs and contemporary world’s happenings- provides the base for augmenting seismic cultural changes. It is something that the government cannot control or tamper with. Perhaps, it is this zest to discover the unknown that made young individuals like Charles Ryu climb out of North Korea’s draconian hell akin to the famous sequence in Batman where Christian Bale escaped from the pit: absolutely free!