Laura Ling was the main speaker at the event and she gave a comprehensive account for her experiences in North Korea where she was detained for more than 40 days together with a colleague, Euna Lee. Ling is an American journalist who specializes in human rights investigative journalism and some of her reports cover aspects such slave labor, drug trade, internet censorship, women rights amongst others.
Ling recalled her visit to North Eastern China, a home for many North Koreans who had freed their homeland because of hunger and other desperate conditions. Most of those fleeing were women. Some got married to Chinese men while others resulted to prostitution to at least earn living. Ling also talked about the implications of the one child policy in China where many parents favor male children resulting in a gender gap of about 40 million, that is, there are 40 million more men than women in the country. This is in fact one of the reasons why some Chines mean are so willing to marry out of their society, for instance some of them have married some of immigrant North Korean women.
Most North Koreans are happy with their new lives in China even when it may not be the best. They compare this life to the one that they had in North Korea and realize that it is very much better. For instance, in North Korea, meat is eaten only three times a year during special events. Poor nutrition in the country makes young people to look shorter, lighter and younger than they really are. This is quite contrary to their South Korean counterparts.
Ling made comparison between China and North Korea and found that both countries did not want the world to know the dire conditions in their countries and that is why they banned speculations and arrested journalists. Ling particularly referred to North Korea as a “black hole” where people’s lives were totally dominated by authoritarian governments.
Ling also recalled her experiences in the North Korean jail where she was isolated. She however describes how she was able to befriend one guard who told her to “always have hope”. She also described the sentences, which were handed to her and her colleague-one 10 years and the other 2 years. She described the North Korean government as a totally paranoid one, which even believed that journalists had the hostile intention of bringing it down.
The next thing that ling talked about was the enormous role that President Bill Clinton played in her release. The North Korean leader was willing to listen to President Clinton because he was the only worldly renowned figure who had called the North Korean leader to offer him condolences on his father’s death. Ling summarized her talk by stating her horrid experience in North Korea made her to start appreciating the small things in life and she realized how lucky she was to be home and free.
How does information relationship influence the sustenance of cultural values? Does transcultural information relationship lead to enhanced societal co-operation and therefore an increase in the global production of human resources, tangible commodities or services? What is the role of cyber culture in all this?