‘The Wheels of Happiness’ are run by all

Joint Project between the Northeast Asian History Foundation and The AsiaN

*Editor’s Note: Security in East Asia is swaying in a rough sea. North Korea’s nuclear crisis has been highly elated amid existing territorial disputes and deep-rooted conflicts between nations in the region. South Korea, China and Japan, the countries directly involved, are all looking for a new order in the process of power shift. In search of sensible solutions for historical conflicts in East Asia, The AsiaN and the Northeast Asian History Foundation have jointly featured a column series by experts on current issues in East Asia. The contribution series of in-depth analyses, insights and strategic solutions will be provided in four languages including English, Korean, Chinese and Arabic.

[Expert Column Series on Current Issues in East Asia] ④ The Wheels of Happiness are run by all

“Taedong River looks more beautiful in sunset
The river gives life to our city.
Taedong River,
The Fatherly leader dedicated his whole life to it
So it’s more precious than anything
The Great General treasures it dearly
So its name is glorified
When we faithfully serve our fatherland
With all our might
We will find true happiness of life
When we faithfully serve our fatherland
With all our might
We will find true happiness of life”

These lines were sung at the end of the North Korean film “The Wheels of Happiness”, written by Kim Song Ok, and directed by the merited artists Jong Kon Jo and Rim Cho Ho, music by Kim Yong Song. The film is narrating the story of a married engineer; Ji Hyang (actress:  Ri Mi Yang), who had to stop her work for 10 years, to raise her 2 children, and help her husband, before deciding to get back to work again.

Fighting her way back, as a talented keen member of the designing office, was very tough. She realized that it was a big mistake to abandon her career while the whole country, under the patronage of the Great General, the Fatherly leader did not stop to build the country. She had to redesign a very huge project of her own, after discovering that other engineers had offered their beloved country better architectures during the last decade of her absence.

By the end, the Party committee appoints Hyoun Ji Hyang chief of Design Section. The Korean Film Studio has been honored with the Order of Kim Il Sung for producing the film, that represented North Korea in the Kuwait Cinema Week held in a few weeks ago.

I wonder if such a film could be considered as a leading line to read the inside North Korean society. Outside that country, we act instead of the North Koreans, we see ourselves more able to understand their situation, motives and attitudes better than them, and we are simply acting like the other face of the dictatorship’s coin!

No one is looking at North Korea away of its nuclear image shown in the world media repeatedly to focus on the “bad” behavior of this tiny country. And no one of those criticizing idols is asking “Why does North Korea act like that?”

Besides, more surprise could be raised in the Middle East itself among Arabs, who may ask: “Why is North Korea considered (with Iran) symbols of evil, while the occupying State of Israel is given the right to act like both of them (by having nuclear weapons) without being blamed, nor sanctioned?

So, if we think that such an image of evil country is stuck with North Korea for the whole world, we have to rethink again, as that country might represent many other nations, that wanted to imitate NK, but for many reasons, they did not succeed to do so.

While the U.S. is focusing on targeting “the axe of devil” via the world media, the Americans shall not be able to beautify their own “bad” image, among millions all over the world, who demonstrate against the U.S. actions everywhere, invading countries, destabilizing others, and even destructing the nature.

Demonstrations are not only from Muslims who contradict killing innocent civilians by non pilot planes in Pakistan, but it also happens in Philippines, when Filipino activists and protesters gathered wearing headbands with sea turtles during a rally near the U.S. Embassy in Manila, as they protested the alleged destruction of the coral reef by the USS Guardian, a U.S. minesweeper, which ran aground off Tubbataha Reef, a World Heritage Site, southwest of the Philippines last January.

What I mean, briefly, that U.S. will not win the media war forever and the world will not accept being involved or being enforced to fight unwanted wars, time after another, on behalf of the United States, to discover, too late, that there were no reasons to start the war, as it happened in Iraq, when the reason was to control and destruct the nuclear weapons, that were not discovered after 10 years of destructive war. Our only way to deal with matter in the East Asia region issues is to find an alternative way; a third way other than fighting by words or firing real wars.

The alternative way shall not be sanctions, and I agree with Mr. Xiyu Yang, a senior research fellow at China Institute of International Studies (CIIS), vice president of the Research Institute of Boao Forum for Asia, who confirmed in one of his interviews for CCCTV (Feb.17, 2013, World Insight) that sanctions approved of no use to punish North Korea.

He did mention that China shall leave the door open to help North Korea against such sanctions, but I am sure, even without China, as it happened for other sanctioned countries, like Cuba, South Africa, Iran, Libya and Syria, sanctions did not work in the past as those countries were always able to find some secret ways to avoid them.

This does not mean that China is supporting North Korea to continue its path to nuclear era, the other way is correct, as Mr. Xiyu Yang explained by discussing issues that exist between China and North Korea.

The first issue involves North Korea’s nuclear weapons. The key difference between China and North Korea when it comes to the nuclear issue is that North Korea argues that giving up their nuclear weapons will make them less secure in terms of national security while China tends to  argue otherwise.

China argues that North Korea will, in fact, be more secure if they give up their nuclear weapons and will gain the opportunity for prosperity as North Korea opens up to international resources by denuclearizing. But the international situation tends to encourage North Korea not to believe China.

North Korea will bring up the cases of Libya and Iraq whenever China makes these suggestions. Mr. Yang believes that in order to persuade North Korea into denuclearization, the international community must create a clear structure of opportunity costs and that the lack of such a structure is the reason why the international community has failed to persuade North Korea. Everything is clear on what North Korea needs to do, but the benefits that they will receive from their actions are not as clear.

Quite many Chinese say that we’re already surrounded by countries with nuclear weapons and it doesn’t matter if we have one more. But the matter is very different for the officials; North Korea has deployed their nuclear stockpile very close to Chinese border where it is highly populated.

So, China is keen to pursue India’s denuclearization, but India’s nuclear pile is quite remote. It is far away from the central gravity of politics and economics. But it is totally different with North Korea. Northeast area is one of our economic bases plus highly populated. And China can not accept a permanent nuclear power for decades and even for a century. It is the chance for all parties to think together, of giving North Korea the chance of testing the benefits of an age without nuclear power.

I see that tourism, education, culture and social projects should be encouraged more and more to involve North Koreans with other neighbors. There should be a train of peace to cross the countries of China, Japan, and the Koreans every year, month and day, with passengers from the different countries, even Russians, Filipinos, and other nationalities in the East Asia region, camps to host group sports from all sides, universities to accept multi nationals more and more, and films to be released freely. Change should happen in the two levels of every nation, leadership and citizens, as well.

Last August I was in India, and the blockbuster movie shown in every corner of all cinemas was “Ek the Tiger”. It is a story written and directed by Kabir Khan of the raw agent Tiger (Actor: Salman Khan) who went on a Hindi intelligence mission to retrieve information from a scientist in Dublin. The opposite Pakistani intelligence agent, Zoya (Actress: Katrina Kaif), was the scientist’s assistance. They fall in love, and tried to get married and live away from both intelligence sides.

The young generation represented by Tiger and Zoya believe that they belong to each other; they need to be united, to have their own lives. While the intelligence members from India and Pakistan are only united to fight their own citizens who wanted war to stop. When Tiger’s boss asked him when he could come back, the answer was “When every one believes that there is no more reason to fight unwanted wars.”

And this is true; the future could be ours, when we become faithful believers of the strength of peace.

Let us rebuild a new Silk Roads, to be taken by messengers of peace, not invaders of wars. The wheels of happiness are real, but they should be run and moved by all of us.

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