n a fascinating interview with RiskHedge, financial analyst Jayant Bhandari says he witnessed North Koreans worshipping their “dear respected leader,” Kim Jong-un.
“North Korea is a perfect tyranny,” explains Bhandari. “They have organized this tyranny in ways that were unimaginable to me, and people have been completely brainwashed. If this country goes through a real election today, I’m absolutely sure Kim Jong-un would win more than 99% of the votes without even trying to manipulate it. People are slaves in that country.”
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Bhandari visited the county in 2012, just after Kim Jong-un assumed power. Contrary to popular perception, it was quite easy to travel there. He booked his trip with a travel agent in Beijing and hoped to see the reality behind the façade. He caught glimpses of it throughout his two-week trip. “Your visit is very sanitized,” says Bhandari. “They show you what they want to show you. Your job is to try and read between the lines.”
He found a nation sheltered from the outside world. “You can go for kilometers within the capital city of Pyeongyang and you might not see any other vehicle. This is a completely empty city in terms of vehicular transportation,” describes Bhandari. “You drive around the country and you see military walking from one place to another place. They might walk 100, 200 kilometers, or even more. The military trucks are on the sides of these roads with the army men trying to repair these trucks. The reality is that when you see these extremely modern looking trucks on TV, this is only the trucks used when they march in the public square.”
Bhandari believes the lack of transportation, even for the military, serves the most practical of purposes for the North Korean leadership. “Because soldiers are not very mobile, you cannot really have a coup in that country.”
North Koreans’ lack of mobility means many haven’t seen the world beyond the borders of their home towns. “When people go from one place to another, their ID cards are checked,” says Bhandari. “I talked with several young people—particularly the hostess or the people who were with me—and I tried to figure out, in a very round-about fashion, how often and how much they have traveled around North Korea. Most of them haven’t really been outside their city, probably not seen much outside their own limited area because ID card checks are everywhere; your movement is extremely limited.”
Between the ingrained worship of Kim Jong-un and the inability to experience anything beyond a limited geographical area, Bhandari believes most North Koreans are committed to the preservation of the current political system. “I have absolutely no doubt that a vast majority of North Koreans would happily die to protect their country and to protect their dictator. So, there is a huge amount of resistance any invader would find trying to take over North Korea.”
As the US looks to potentially eliminate North Korea’s nuclear program and/or wipe out the Kim Jong-un regime, Bhandari sees a multitude of practical problems restricting America’s options. “If [the US] destroys the dictatorship, the reality is that people are with the North Korean government. It’s a very strange situation. And if you actually release these people from dictatorship, what will you do with these people? Because they will flood China and South Korea and they are a completely untrained and brainwashed people. This is 25 million people!”
Watch the full interview with Jayant Bhandari below.
Article By Jonathan Roth, Risk Hedge