LSE Get It Wrong on North Korea 53

On BBC World, I just watched John Sweeney’s excellent Panorama documentary on North Korea. The LSE have complained bitterly about the BBC using the cover of an LSE student trip to film inside North Korea.

The LSE is absolutely wrong here. What is the purpose of academic contact if it does not result in the revealing and dissemination of truth?

I am perhaps particularly sensitive on this point as , in my own field, the small western academic community dealing with Central Asia, with a tiny number of honourable exceptions, pull their punches and in their publications hide the truth about Central Asia’s appalling dictatorships, in order to maintain their “access”. But “access” has no purpose if not used to reveal truth, and what the learned professors really mean is they wish to maintain their own career and income.

If nobody from the LSE is ever allowed into the terrible North Korean dictatorship again, that will be a bad thing. But the benefit of the very wide spreading of truth by John Sweeney’s documentary is worth a very, very great deal more. The academics of the LSE may not entirely use their “access” to lick Kim Jong Whatever’s arse. But the said academics certainly don’t want to be associated with the spreading of the obvious truth that the said arse reeks to high heaven.

53 thoughts on “LSE Get It Wrong on North Korea

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  • wikispooks

    With solid ambassador level exerience, Craig Murray is probably as good as we’re likely to get in dissenting British geo-political punditry that has any prospect of being listened to by the public at large. That observation coupled with the content of this post is a good example of just why I dispair of said public ever coming close to the truth of this country’s real geo-political agenda and its post WWII criminality. Regardless of it’s narrowly defined accuracy, it serves the purposes of the UK Establishment very well indeed.

    OK – a narrow point is being made about obtaining information from inside a closed (to an implacably hostile outside world) society. On its face that is reasonable enough but… both Craig and the Panorama program he found so praisworthy, either totally ignore (Craig) or grossly distort (Panorama) the historical context of the situation.

    No mention of US behaviour or objectives in the 1950’s Korean war, or the holocaust which killed over 20% of the entire population (the UK lost under 1% in the whole of WWII). US General Curtis LeMay: “we burned down every North Korean town … over a period of three years or so, we killed off — what — twenty percent of the population”. It’s where ‘bomb then back to the stone age’ originated. IOW the Korean population both North and South (as distinct from their uber-corrupt establishment leaderships) have good reason to regard the US as having an agenda that has little to do with their wellbeing.

    Craig knows – beyond the shadow of a doubt – that absent US guarantees and massive military support, South Korea would cease to exist almost immediately. Maybe that would be messy, but frankly its none of our damn business anyway. At least a united Korean peninsular would be able to work out its own destiny free from the incessantly murderous ‘humanitarian’ interferance of the West.

  • Alex

    Unusually, I disagree with you Craig.

    The point is (as has been rehearsed above by others) that the students on an academic trip should have been free to go to NK on their own terms. Perhaps some of them would have returned and in their academic articles shone light on NK.

    However, allowing the BBC to put these academics at considerable risk, is not acceptable nor fair on the academics.

    The BBC could very easily have asked LSE (and all those going) for permission. It’s not at all right to take risks with other people’s safety in this way.

  • Clark

    So what would have happened if the party of students had been arrested for spying? Wouldn’t the BBC have been right in there, shouting for military action against North Korea to save the party of “innocent” students? This plan was very convenient for the BBC and the establishment. It went well, so the BBC got a good documentary, but had it gone badly, a useful propaganda incident would have been created.

    “Both the British and the Iranian governments are milking this for maximum propaganda value and playing to their respective galleries. Neither has any real care at all for either the British captives or the thousands who could die in Iran and Basra if this gets out of hand.”

  • Fred

    What affect will this have on future cultural visits? Not just to N.Korea but to other non westernised countries?

    Now we have shown ourselves to be dishonest and admit to using cultural visits to enable our state broadcasting company to make propaganda programs. What are the chances future visits being allowed?

    When the people of the world should be moving closer together to combat the despots on both sides we move them further apart.

  • Carl

    So gents, not the LSE students who actually went on the trip (and not the SU activists back home) have heavily criticised the LSE for making the row public – I take it you’ll criticise the LSE now? No, though not. Meanwhile, any takers for Gadaffi’s money…?

  • Komodo

    This House believes that “The permanent incarceration of a bunch of trainee economists in N. Korea would not have been an unmitigated disaster”. Could have done wonders for the FTSE100…

  • Michael Stephenson

    The documentary was John Sweeney’s typical self aggrandizing garbage.

    Hundreds of UK journalists have went on that tour guided trip.

    Where is the value in the documentary, what on Earth can we British do for the plight of the North Koreans, except increase sanctions to increase the misery?

    Sweeney mentioned not once in that documentary that focussed heavily on the starvation of the North Koreans, but never once mentioned that a major factor in their starvation was US sanctions, intended to make the North Korean regime appear to be a bigger failure than it really is, and to prevent it from providing an example to others.

    Or that the flashy South Korea he presented probably would be just another East Asian wage slave puppet state for the West had the west not wanted to use it as a carrot on a stick for the rest of the region.

    Paraphrasing Chomsky: There’s no value in focussing on the crimes of others, when there is nothing you can do about it. It’s you duty to focus on the crimes of your own state, because their is something you can do about it.

    John Sweeney could learn a thing from Chomsky.

    Interestingly this North Korean propaganda documentary about the west is a much better documentary and much more entertaining, and contains a lot of truth in it.

  • Kempe

    The worst famine in North Korea happened in the 1990’s before the UN sanctions (unanamous decision by the security council) were imposed. North Korea is an oppressive dictatorship which has made numerous threats to its neighbours but of course the US must be shown as being the root of all evil.

    I saw Sweeney’s documentary and wondered why they bothered. It didn’t tell us anything new struck me as a complete waste of resources.

  • Cousin K

    I disagree completely. You seem to be saying that because you don’t like the NK government, or because you don’t know much about NK, then anyone who goes to their country is entitled to break their law, lie on visa applications and abuse their hospitality. How would you feel if, say, you invited someone to your house to talk about publishing your book, and they asked to go to the loo, and snuck off into your bedroom and started going through your wife’s underwear drawer?

  • Cousin K

    But “access” has no purpose if not used to reveal truth,
    Access can also be used for cultural exchanges, for developing mutual understanding, for building confidence. It doesn’t have to be used only for spying.

  • eddie-g

    My suspicion is that the LSE is making a fuss about this so as to ensure its students have a chance to go on such trips in future.

    I am sure there are some LSE bods who have genuine annoyance about this, but that surely can’t be a universal view. I mean, is it really that big a deal that John Sweeney was treated to the same Potemkin experience in North Korea? Of course not. But the LSE does not want to have its next trip to a crazy state thwarted because the hosts suspect they are colluding with journalists.

  • Passerby

    “November” sounds like our old friend “Passerby”

    Still playing the games of sounds like , what kind of contribution is this sort of crap?

    “Souds like this and that”, seems to be the main preoccupation of the OCD Afflicted contributor.

  • Passerby

    So you ARE around. …..

    Yes I am around. In fact we are legion, and not all that easy to get rid of. Nonetheless the game of “sounds like …” does sound more childish than ever, the comfort to be driven from discounting the various contributor as “one” is only a denial of reality, that does not change the actualities.

  • technicolour

    …the ‘actualities’ being that I, for one, find both (or all) of you equally hard to follow. Is that why you’re rather rudely objecting to a simple comparison, I wonder?

  • Passerby

    …the ‘actualities’ being that I, for one, find both (or all) of you equally hard to follow. Is that why you’re rather rudely objecting to a simple comparison, I wonder?

    There should be a warning label on this thread denoting: tag team at work.

    If you don’t follow the points raised, that is your tough luck, and not the problem of others included the contributors. Further your oh so fine sensibilities offended by the “rudeness”: patently points to the cloistered and pampered world that is occupied by the members of the tag team, or could it be the intransigence of the mind set that cannot tolerate any lines of thought, on the proscribed list of thoughts, as set by the hive.

    Comparisons that are constantly the way of interjections to derail the debate, and or cast doubts and question the validity of the existence of contributors with a view to discount the impact of the contributions ought not be misconstrued as anything other than the ill intent of those engaged in constantly invoking differing ghosts of the contributors as one another.

  • technicolour

    Ah, Passerby, how I’ve missed you. Thank you for such a balanced and thoughtful reply. Rudeness is indeed in the eye of the beholder: I now realise that you were being nothing but charming and well-meaning and that the mention of OCD was actually intended as a compliment – as indeed I expect Dreoilin’s comparison was too. So harmony is restored all round!

  • LSELoser

    I will declare my interest: I am a graduate of the LSE.

    As much as I admire Craig, I have to disagree with him on this one. Not that students shouldn’t take risks from time to time. They should. But it should be the student’s decision, not the BBC’s. The BBC behaved irresponsibly.

  • Dreoilin

    “the comfort to be driven from discounting the various contributor as “one” is only a denial of reality, that does not change the actualities.”

    Passerby, you’re funny. When you say, “the comfort to be driven”, do you by any chance mean “derived”?
    And when you say, “discounting the various contributor [sic] as “one” is only …”, was that a Freudian slip by any chance?

    Never mind. CheebaCow has provided us with a ‘blocking’ tool and I’m using it. Increasingly.

  • Passerby

    The spelling and grammar inspector is out, demonstration of yet another facet of OCD. Evidently this thread now has turned into some kind of a legal, pedantic discourse in which each word is to be analysed and who knows we may even end up with the meaning of “is” to be defined yet.

    The sum contribution of the OCD afflicted contributor so far has been the inane game of “so and so sounds like so and so”, followed by spelling and grammar check, peppered with some pink panther psychology 101 , that culminates in threats and götterdämmerung (threats to block).

    “North Korea” yet again getting vilified through amateur spying methods of BBC, in continuation of fifty years of vilification is a side point, that is not the subject of the debate.

    Well I declare, I sound awfully like Passerby, but I am Passerby! That is besides the point and a Freudian banana custard! Pitiful, just pitiful, to witness these extreme levels of conformity and suppression.

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