Voice of Sanity – October 2017




Piedmont Humanists

Membership: adults $24/year

Seniors/students $15/year

Editor: Joyce Bates

All correspondence to:



Regular mail:

Piedmont Humanists

3620 Pelham Rd., Suite 5, #135

Greenville, SC. 29615

October 2017


The Voice of Sanity


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Sunday meeting: There is usually a talk, video, or general discussion from 11:00AM to 1:00PM

Location: the Earth Fare 3620 Pelham Road, Greenville.

A review of business done in the board meeting is presented at the 11:00 time on the first Sunday of every month.

Dates for the Sunday meetings are: October 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd, and 29th


For those new to Humanism a discussion group will meet 10AM Sunday October 22nd.

Location: the Earth Fare 3620 Pelham Road, Greenville


The Free-Thought group will meet at 7:00PM October 5th and 19th (Thursdays) for a meal at California Dreaming restaurant; 40 Beacon Drive; near the Pelham Road exit off I85. 


The Free-thought trivia and pool group will meet at Friar’s Tavern,

1178 Woodruff Road, Greenville, SC 29607.

Meetings will be held 7:00 to 10:00PM on October 12th and 26th (also Thursdays).


October 14th: Second Saturday Brunch will be at10AM at the Golden Corral, 3240 North Pleasantburg Dr. Greenville, SC 29609.  


                                   A BRIEF HISTORY OF NORTH KOREA


From 1910 to the end of World War II the Korean peninsula was under Japanese rule. During the 1930s the Japanese government industrialized the northern half of the peninsula leaving the rich land of the southern half to farming. They also occupied and industrialized Manchuria (now Northern China) also leaving the southern Chinese lands to agriculture. Many Koreans migrated over the border to work in Manchurian factories and remained in the area after the war. Today this part of Northern China contains a large Korean speaking population. 


During World War II the US Air Force continuously bombed North Korea and its Manchurian neighbor virtually destroying all of the industry. Eighty-five percent of the structures were gone and over a million people died by the time the armistice was signed with the Japanese. As a native Manchurian Kim Il-sung became a guerilla fighter against the Japanese during this time. Although, there was a Japanese bounty on his head he was nearly caught and executed by the Chinese in a purge to rid Manchuria of ethnic Koreans. Ethnic cleansing may not have been the only reason they wanted him captured because he had the habit of extorting supplies, conscripts, and money for his troops from the locals by blackmailing and kidnapping. The Soviet Union began supporting Kim Il-sung in 1941. They fed, housed, and educated him in exchange for service in their infantry. 


In August of 1945, and just before the Japanese surrender, President Truman and leader Joseph Stalin agreed on the 38th parallel as the dividing line between the Soviet and US occupation of the Korean peninsula. The line gave two-thirds and most of the arable land to South Korea. The Soviets conducted a major political propaganda campaign to install Kim Il-sung as a Korean leader in the north. They emphasized his popularity as a guerilla fighter against the Japanese and underplayed his youth and lack of experience. During this time Kim had begun placing his close followers in important security jobs in Pyongyang and soon had control of police and military organizations.


In November of the same year Soviet troops succeeded in putting down a general demonstration over abuses and theft by the Soviets in the North Korean town of Sinuiju. One hundred were killed and 700 others wounded. More residents were sent to Siberia for re-education and military training. After the killings Kim was sent in to mollify the population there. As he worked he gradually shifted the association of the term “Communist” from Korea to Russia and reorganized the North Korean Communist Party changing its name to the Worker’s Party.


By 1949 Kim was anxious to advance onto South Korean soil. But Stalin would only support him if the South was the first to invade because of the agreement he had made with the US over the 38th parallel. Kim then appealed to the Chinese and convinced them to advance his cause along with the help of Soviets who would secretly supply arms and military advice in the background. Stalin made it clear that if the North Korean effort failed there would no longer be help from the Russians.


In June of 1950 North Korea invaded South Korea claiming the action was in defense of aggression by the latter. At first the war went well for Kim in spite of weakness in air support. Even Douglas MacArthur’s massive invasion of ground troops did not stem the advance of the North and the Americans, after being driven back to Seoul and finally gaining ground back to the 38th parallel, continued a hopelessly long and bloody fight in which neither side gained advantage. The affair became bloodier when continuous runs by American planes firebombed the North with napalm and also secretly conducted raids on airfields across the border in Manchuria destroying Chinese and Russian planes. Soon after Stalin’s death early in 1953 both the USSR and China agreed to a prisoner exchange with the Americans and signed an armistice that summer.  


Kim Il-sung gradually consolidated his power from 1953 to 1956 by eliminating his competitors with accusations of espionage or imprisoned them for trivial reasons. He replaced them with much younger followers. By 1956 about seventy percent of the original Communist Central Committee was no longer politically active.


Unfortunately, the agricultural system faltered then failed during these years. Bad weather, the loss of so many North Korean farmers in the Korean conflict, and collectivization of the farms afterwards were the cause. The problem of not having enough food to feed the population became a permanent problem. Since then, Kim and his heirs have continuously depended on the USSR and China for food aid and many other necessities.


Today there are two main organizations that have developed since Kim Il-sung’s ascension to power. They direct all the functions of government for the entire country and are both controlled by the present head of state Kim Jong-un, grandson of Kim Il-sung.


One is the Organization and Guidance Department (OGD). Basically, it takes care of all the functions that support the leader’s control of the country. It is the brain child of Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-un’s father. This man began easing control away from the original Kim in the 1980s by gradually assuming responsibility for police and intelligence functions and putting them under the supervision of a single system. By 1992 his objective was complete and Kim Il-sung was functioning only as a figurehead to the outside world.


Today the OGD controls all other internal departments of government and can intervene with all their activities down to the lowest level. It controls the secret police and state security and consequently has authority over every citizen except for an elite group call the “admitted”. Any policy submitted to it must be signed personally only by Kim Jong-un in order to go into effect. Lastly, it takes care of all Kim Jong-un’s personal needs providing him with body guards, physical comfort, and women.


The other organization is the United Front Department (UFD). It is responsible for “overseas inter-Korean espionage, policy making, and diplomacy”. One of its main duties is to make sure that no real information from outside of the country reaches the public in general. All television, radio stations and newspapers contain only articles praising the head of state. One of the duties of the people in UFD is to make up stories praising Kim Jong-un. These supposedly come from citizens of other countries. Western literature in the country is limited to the 100 Copy Collection. Translations of these books are limited to 100 copies each and each book has a number so it can be kept track of at all times. The books are obtained by attaches stationed in embassies of other countries and can only be read by the elite few.


There are three poems that every school child must learn by heart. One poem implies that motherly love is inferior to that of the Worker’s Party for its members. Another describes the Great Leader as the homeland. School children are taught that South Korea is “Southern Chosun” the lower half of the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea (DPRK). They are also led to believe it is a colony of the US that has been ruined by the capitalistic system and that South Korea attacked the North to launch the Korean War


The North Korean government also has run a “localization” policy. This is a kidnapping operation that was launched in the late 1970s and conducted by North Korean agents concentrating mostly on Japan. Korean nationals living in Japan were easily targeted and had the financial resources to pay blackmail for the return of hostages. Kim Jong-il anticipated that as much as 11 billion dollars in aid could be gained by such an undertaking. The reasons for the practice were threefold. One was to gain information about foreign countries that would be helpful to spies. Second, victims could be used as leverage to obtain more foreign aid to the country. Third, it was hoped that some of those kidnapped, if young enough could be trained as operatives themselves. However, the victims never became loyal because of the lives they had known previously as free individuals.


The scandal was revealed by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi at the 2002 North Korean-Japanese summit. Kim Jong-il was forced to acknowledge and apologize for the kidnappings when he realized that he might not only lose the extortion money but the outpost organization in Japan that kept many North Korean assets protected.  Finally he claimed he had only just learned of the activity. When he sent five of those kidnapped to visit their families they refused to return and he declared there would be no further summits with Japan during his lifetime.


Kim Jong-il cheated in dealing with the Southern Peninsula as well. In 1998 South Korea’s administration embarked on a new policy to improve relations between the two countries. This was called the “Sunshine Policy”. The UFD was ordered to exploit the undertaking and came up with the idea of initially extending a hand to the South Koreans by allowing inter-Korean family reunions and inviting investment and industry from private South Korean corporations. At the same time, the strength of the North Korean navy was fortified in preparation for military action along the Northern Limit Line, a line in the Yellow Sea separating the jurisdictions of the North and South.


In 1999 a small naval maneuver was done to test the reaction of the South and when nothing happened the North continued developing the Kaesong Industrial Complex using Southern financial investment. The business park was located about six miles north of the demilitarized zone and was accessible by rail and highway to Seoul. One of the main investors in the enterprise was the Hyundai Group, but it also included textile, chemical, machinery and firms specializing in electronics. 


After its inception the Kaesong Industrial Complex became an excellent source of foreign currency. It was run by a South Korean committee that signed a 50 year lease with the government as late as 2004. But while they collaborated on land the North Koreans used leverage on the South with threats of military engagement at sea. Later they used satellite launches and a claimed hydrogen bomb test in 2016 to threaten financial loss to private South Korean companies who declined to comply with their demands. This was in spite of the fact that Southern investment had operated most of the time in the red not realizing a profit until 2011.


Finally in 2016 the South Koreans stopped all business park operations in response to the launch of a ballistic missile. The next day the North expelled all South Korean workers and froze the South’s assets and park equipment. The South shut off its supply of electricity and water and the location now sits empty.


China and North Korea do not have as warm relations as one living in the West might expect. China’s pursuit of trade relations with South Korea probably is offensive to Kim Jong-un. This may be especially true since most South Korean operations are in the Northern Provinces of China. They provide economic improvement not only for Chinese citizens but the ethnic North Korean residents who have lived and work beside them for generations. The recent increase of refugees over the northern border has cooled the attitudes of these people toward North Korea. Kim Jong-il at one time had hoped to establish an outpost in China similar to the one in Japan where he could hide North Korean assets but he failed to find those Chinese who would cooperate on the venture. The lure of lucrative employment by South Korean corporations discouraged any such collusion with North Korea.


Kim Jong-il, always on the look-out for an opportunity to extort, at one point went to the Chinese embassy in Pyongyang and claimed he had a document the Chinese might not want to be made public. It referred to the original pact made between China and North Korea at the end of the Korean War. It allegedly contained suggestions made by major Chinese officials to delete the clause that would automatically oblige China to aid North Korea in any future war on the Korean Peninsula. Some statements in this same document suggested that China would ask reparations for its losses incurred during the Korean War.


The response from the Chinese was swift. They dismissed their ambassador in Pyongyang immediately and then delayed appointing a new one for about four months. The eventual new ambassador was far less sympathetic to the North Korean cause. A short time later the Chinese security police rounded up and arrested 60 North Korean political organizers in the northern Chinese city of Shenyang for corruption of the local government.



Dear Leader, Jang Jin-sung, 2014, Atria Books (Simon and Schuster)

The Great Leader and the Fighter Pilot, Blaine Hardin, 2015, Viking/Penguin Group





Reasons why the English language is so lard to learn:

Thank you, Andrew

The bandage was wound around the wound.

The farm was used to produce produce.

The dump was so full that it had to refuse ore refuse.

We must polish the Polish furniture.

He could lead if he would get the lead out.

The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.

Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.

A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.

When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.

 I did not object to the object.

 The insurance was invalid for the invalid.

There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.


(Microsoft Word had trouble with these, too.)



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