Among East Asian countries, only the people of North Korea
have been left behind and deprived of freedom and prosperity.
Why? Because the North Korean society is suffering from
a kind of illness for which no doctor is able to give a
clear diagnosis. The illness is so serious that the best
doctors are not sure what is causing it and what treatment
should be provided. Besides, the patient refuses to have
its pulse checked and doesn't even want to take its clothes
off for check-ups.
North Korea does not seem to be able to find a cure by itself
either. If that is the case, what should be done? I thought
we could help our sick neighbor by gathering accurate information
from inside North Korea and providing it to concerned parties
on the outside so that they would know what kind of helping
hand the patient truly needs.
to find both the diagnosis and the treatment was the very
reason why we wanted to cultivate a group of journalists
inside North Korea. We believed creating an information
network connecting the people in North Korea with the outside
world would help us understand what's wrong with our neighbor.
In broader terms, we thought such an information network
would in the long run help improve human rights and the
daily lives of North Korean people, as well as ease tensions
between the two Koreas and contribute to the peace and stability
of East Asia.
diagnosis were made based on incorrect information, it could
worsen the patient's condition. Unfortunately, in both Japan
and South Korea the image of North Korea remains stereotyped.
The old image of North Koreans as brain-washed, robot-like
people who turn their heads right if General Secretary Kim
Jong-il orders them to is a good example of the wrong diagnosis.
North Korea is in the midst of tremendous change. People
may not turn their heads as ordered. After the planned economy
collapsed, the people built jangmadang -- markets -- and
expanded their own economic activities. As a result, more
and more people are now trying to support themselves on
their own despite strict totalitarian control.
want to know what North Korea is like today, we have to
exchange our old yardstick for a new one. For those of us
in media, politics and academics, it is essential to follow
the changes in North Korean society in order to prescribe
the necessary medication. This prescription should be used
to help the country open up without creating confusion,
help it reform its economy and rectify human rights abuses.
the years we have met several hundred of North Korean people
who crossed the border into China both legally and illegally.
Among them, several wanted to return to North Korea and
report on what is happening inside. We decided to support
their firm determination to let the world know how North
Koreans live and think.
The creation of this magazine represents the birth of North
Korean journalists working for foreign media. We considered
it important to have an English edition along side the existing
Japanese and Korean editions in order to appeal to a broader
By obtaining high quality information reported by journalists
directly from inside North Korea, interested groups will
know better what relief aid the country needs, for example,
or what kinds of reform North Korean society will have to
make. More than anything else, the readers will learn that
people in North Korea are just like you and me, not brain-washed
inauguration of the Rimjin-gang is also a totally new experience
for the North Korean people. News of the existence of this
magazine and journalists inside the country will spread
throughout North Korea. Since the Foundation Day 60 years
ago, the North Koreans never experienced the freedom to
say what is on their minds. They may learn from the existence
of such a magazine that there is hope for North Korea to
be a free, prosperous and democratic society.
readers of the English edition to understand that the Rimjin-gang
is still like a baby learning to walk. Our North Korean
journalists are still inexperienced and you may find it
difficult to read and understand what they are writing in
their sometimes stilted prose. Still, I think you will be
able to feel and know what's going on inside the isolated
country, how its people think and live.
Ishimaru, editor and publisher
Korean journalist, LEE Jun>>>