It can be seen that the most challenging ideas in a text are found in the detail in Barbara Demick’s non-fiction text, “Nothing to Envy.” This text is set in the 1990s in the Northern City of Chongjin in North Korea. The text presents what life is like for six North Koreans who ultimately defect from the country through China. The most challenging details of this text are those about North Korea’s use of propaganda, the indoctrination of youth in their education and the total control that Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il have over the citizens. Through these details the reader learns the true nature of dictatorship.

Propaganda can be defined as information of a biased or misleading nature, In North Korea propaganda is used to promote the Kim dictators. The details about propaganda begin early on in the text when the author describes the North Korean landscape. It is described as grey and dull and the only colour really found on the streets of North Korea is in fact the Kim Il-Sung posters and billboards. The posters are brightly coloured images of Kim il Sung sitting on a bench smiling with children surrounding him. Yellow and Orange colours are used to illuminate him and portray him as the sun. The writing is all in red, so it stands out on the grey landscape. Posters however are just the most standard form of propaganda in North Korea, it is depicted everywhere and in every way possible. For example films, radio, portraits, newspapers, loudhailers, television, uniforms, fashion and hair. The propaganda is used to manipulate and control the North Korean citizens, although it is merely stated in text, it is shown in the smaller details. “In Mrs, Songs home, as in every other, a framed portrait of Kim il Sung hung on an otherwise bare wall”. Inspections were regularly done to ensure that everyone had a portrait of the great leader, and we’re keeping it in immaculate condition.

The Education system is where the brainwashing of next generations begin, North Korean children spend an extensive amount of time learning the teachings of Kim il Sung and from the young age of 5 are lead to believe that countries such as America and Japan are horrible threats. In order to be a successful dictator, Kim il sung needed North Korea to think that their country is great, and that Americans for example are inferior. These ideas are portrayed in every way possible many schools have a dedicated room for worshiping Kim il Sung. This room is often heated, and fitted with electricity unlike the classroom’s in the rest of the school. This detail shows the dictatorship of Kim il-sung as everything related to him is glorified to make make him appear as a “god” or “father”. The children are manipulated by Kim il-sung almost in every aspect of education, whether it be maths, art, music, or science they are taught to follow the great leader and hate the enemy. A first grade math book contain questions such as “A girl is acting as a messenger to our patriotic troops during the war against Japanese occupation. She carries messages in a basket of apples, but is stopped by a Japanese soldier at a checkpoint. He steals 2 of her apples. How many are left?”. This is just one example of Kim il-sung using the education system to his own benefit, all the books children read and the songs they sing follow a similar context. Because of this, most North Koreans grow up not knowing any better, and never questioning Kim il-sung making it easier for him to lead and dictate the country.

North Korea is undoubtedly one of the most controlling countries in the world today. The Kim dictators have used total control over the citizens of North Korea to maintain their dictatorship role and ensure they remain in power. An example of the things controlled is marriage, food distribution, businesses and even the sewage. A traditional wedding in North Korea is held in front of the Kim il-­sung statue, “who symbolically presided over all marriages in the absence of clergy”. This means that..

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