THE 38TH PARALLEL – A DIVISION IN IDEOLOGY

Posted: January 1, 2012 in WORLD EVENTS, world politics
Tags: , , , ,

A photo was recently published that made one think that it had surely been photo shopped. The picture was a night photo taken of the Korean peninsula from a satellite orbiting hundreds of miles above the earth. Depicted in the photo are the two countries of North and South Korea. The contrast between the two countries divided by the 38th parallel identifies the stark contrast between the two countries. North and South Korea had originally been a single country but the end of World War II saw the Soviet Union occupying the north and the United States being in the south; both under the auspices of the United Nations. This is much the same philosophy adopted in Germany following the end of the war.
Geographically the two countries are the same. The weather for both countries is predominately the same as are the people. So what makes the two countries so much distinctly different that a photo causes the differences in the two nations to stick out with so much contrast. The answer is economic freedom, civil liberties, capitalism vs. communism and strangling regulations. If ever a single photo portrayed the difference between two distinctly different ideologies, this one captured it.

Following the Korean War in 1953 the two countries developed based on completely different economic and moral models. The North was led by a brutal dictatorship and was built on militaristic ideology. The South was allowed to grow within a capitalistic culture that encouraged progressive thinking where success was rewarded by cultural norms and economic benefit. The North suppressed religion while the South allowed religious tolerance of all religions. Buddhism is predominate but Christianity has established itself within the South with no suppression from the government. North Korea maintains total control over communication. Television and radio are totally government regulated so the people only see and hear what the government wants the country to see. A skewed portrait of the country and the leadership is fed to the people. The Internet and cell phones are not tolerated. The South, on the other hand, allows freedom of the press and wide open Internet access. Where the South periodically sees labor strikes and protests that lead to positive changes in the country the North would never tolerate these expressions for change.

South Korea has a political system much like the United States. This allows a people to select who will represent them in government. This also provides a method to change the government that a people represent. North Korea has no such system and the centralized council under the rule of one dictator regulates the activities of the entire country. This total regulation of all aspects of life instead of allowing the market to dictate what will be produced and consumed has led to major economic and human disasters.

The economic development of these two neighboring countries are totally different. In 1957 South Korea’s Per Capita (per person) Gross Domestic Product, GDP, was less than the poor country of Ghana. In 2001 is had grown to be seventeen times greater than Ghana. At the same time, under centralized control the North economy languished and in 1995 a great famine stuck and the North lost 2.5 – 3.0 million citizens to starvation and related illnesses. The South was not affected.

Benjamin Franklin stated “I have been told that a wise man learns from his own mistakes.” He went on to say ,”This is incorrect. A fool learns from his onw mistakes. A wise man learns from other men’s mistakes.” Let us learn from the lessons of the two Koreas and insure that regulations and bureaucracy do not strangle our own ability to continue to build the greatest nation in the history of the world the United States of America.

Now back to our picture and what makes it the definitive depiction of an open society vs a closed society. The picture was taken at night and the 38th parallel could be easily depicted. The 38th parallel ran east and west and everything south of the invisible line, South Korea, appeared to glow with bright lights like New York City on New Years Eve. North of the 38th parallel, North Korea, no lights could be seen; total darkness. So bad are conditions in the North that they can not provide enough electricity to light their cities and communities.

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