"The Jangmadang generation" star in a change. Photo: LiNK

NORTH KOREA (Conspiracy Talk News) – This is NOT the typical story about North Korea, read on.

It speaks of a change, of young people who break the rules despite the harsh reprisals, of an entire generation that lived with access to foreign information: from a part of North Korean society that seeks freedom .

It is extremely complicated to know what happens in the hermetic Asian nation, but a new documentary produced by “Freedom in North Korea” or LiNK, a organisation based in California (USA) that helps North Korean refugees, now opens a window to the unknown .

The project reveals, through testimonies of citizens who escaped from the country, a “crucial” generational change: that of those who grew up in the midst of the 1990s, when the North Koreans had to “be creative to survive” and began to trade through new markets in the state-theoretically-communist, the “Jangmadang”.

That generation, which began its life in a time of turbulence, “is now emerging as the greatest force of change that North Korea has never seen,” say the creators of the documentary.

“The transformation and opening of North Korea has already started,” LiNK director Sokeel Park told CT News World.

The organization filmed the documentary with testimonies from North Koreans who escaped between 2008 and 2013 in different ways .

The North Koreans who escape do not talk about missiles, but about the change that is taking place in the “Jangmadang generation”,

“In general, the North Koreans escape through China, and in China they risk being detained and sent back to North Korea, but if they manage to get from the north of China to the south and cross to Southeast Asia, they can get to South Korea or the United States, “explains Park.

The stories of the young speak for themselves.

“We realized that if we did nothing, we would die of hunger, so we started to trade, ” says Joo Yang.

With only 6 years, the young woman began to see “many people dying of hunger and cold” and how the rations provided by the government ran out.

“I started thinking about doing business when I was 14,” she recalls.

Yang knew a soybean seed factory and thought about collecting the surpluses that were left on the ground to sell, and from there buying products that did not expire quickly to do business.

“Because the government became poor, it could not take care of us, we lost hope in it, the government knew that we had to design our own future, that’s how we grew up,” adds Geumju, who left his country in 2008.

Her mother, also from the outside, remembers that this generation “did not worry much about social controls”.

“Survival came first (…) They grew up being brave and daring . 

Access to the outside

In the “Jangmadang” not everything is trade in food products.

Foreign programs or films were released on DVD until 2007 and “by then the USB began to appear” in these markets, explains the thirty-year-old Shimon Huh.

As CDs were harder to transport and hide, “people started to switch to USB devices, key them and load them with Hollywood or South Korean movies .”

Danbi Kim, who at 15 years old became a smuggler of products from China, remembers how people approached her to ask her to bring programs from the other Korea .

“When we saw foreign programming, we had to close all the doors and curtains and pretend that there was nobody at home, it was fun,” she says now laughing, already settled in the neighbouring South.

Through foreign productions, says the young woman, they realised that the rest of the countries were not in crisis , as their professors explained.

“Other things I felt is that women are more respected outside, in North Korea … they can not even ride on the back of a motorcycle.”


Faced with their inability to sustain citizenship, the regime ended up allowing the “Jangmadang”. However, the risk of not complying remains high, based on the story of the North Koreans who fled.

“If someone does not stick to socialist life, he or she is considered dirty and corrupt, ” warns Joo Yang.

This North Korean ensures that the regime made “public executions” to set an example.

“They try to get everyone to see it, I think I could avoid it because I was very young, I still remember the noise of the shooting.”

Some of the protagonists of the documentary were temporarily detained on some occasion, but Danbi Kim also ended up being transferred to a “secret” detention center for helping to manage a family reunion in China with her older brother.

“If they send you to a normal police station, they can beat you in. But in a secret detention center, they do not even treat you like a human being .”

The worst tortures were suffered by her brother, who took all the blame so that she could leave, says Kim between as she shed tears in the documentary.

“They insist you confess, and if you do not, they hit you.” It hurt a lot, my skin went black.

The brother is still in the hands of the North Korean authorities, according to LiNK.


The stories of survival through capitalism and of a generation that has not experienced anything else are repeated, says the director of the documentary.

“The older generation never experienced any kind of freedom, they lived without knowing what freedom was,” says one of the film’s protagonists, Shimon Huh.

“But we grew up learning and seeing freedom as we were repressed by the government, so our desire for freedom is more strong “.

And, for the North Koreans, what is freedom?

“Being able to work in a place, if you want, and not doing it if you do not want, to be able to open your own business if you wish, live where you want and be able to go where you want”.

For the moment, that freedom can not be achieved in North Korea, but the trend led by his generation “is unstoppable” , highlights for its part the promoter of the project.

“Let’s put it this way: the train left the station and can not be sent back.”



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