Disposing of consumerism
Public relations intern
Avondale College of Higher Education
Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia
Despite being located in the most prosperous region on earth—among economic powerhouses such as China, Japan and South Korea—North Korea chooses anonymity and isolation. The world’s most secluded state remains shrouded in mystery.
Travelling there is a surreal experience; the country remains firmly entrenched somewhere in the last century. It’s easy to criticise North Koreans for their fanatical support of an oppressive, corrupt and despotic regime. How could they possibly tolerate such dreadful living conditions? Why don’t they revolt? Here’s some perspective, though.
North Koreans are subjected every day to relentless propaganda. Billboards promote the state rather than a brand; state-owned television is censored and heavily biased; the Kim dynasty is worshipped, venerated, adored. Without the Internet, travel opportunities or free press, most people just don’t know what the rest of the world is like. And it’s been that way for generations. Unbelievable, right?
How different are we? Consider this:
A family eats dinner in the comfort of plush leather couches and watches its favourite cooking show. For some of the time, anyway—there’s a lot of advertisements. The members of the family are subjected to an excitable voice telling them all kinds of things: that they must try this new, irresistible burger, then 30 seconds later that they need to lose weight; that their couches need upgrading or that they should use a new brand of shampoo.
It’s no less propaganda than the state television in Pyongyang.
In the North Korean world, it’s easy to spot the flaws. Not so in our world, where consumerism is rampant and everything is disposable.
Josh is a Bachelor of Arts student majoring in communication and international poverty and development studies at Avondale College of Higher Education.