"When General Kim Jong-il was born, the clouds opened up, and he came down from heaven, and then there was a huge snowstorm! When General Kim Jong-il shouts out loud, storms always happen, huge storms always happen!" - "Dear Leader," a state-issued anthem dedicated to Kim Jong-il
North Korea has long been the butt of jokes, and it has been a longstanding target of international criticism, but the startling satellite image was anything but amusing, for it demonstrated the truly catastrophic conditions North Koreans find themselves in. Statistics show that the average South Korean uses up to 10,162 kilowatt hours of power per year, whereas their neighbors in the north consume only 739. This is only one amongst a slew of stumbling blocks affecting the state, impeding it from proper progress.
The mismatching network of sprawling, yet lifeless cities and squalid, poverty-stricken provinces stands eerily silent next to the bustling metropolises on either side of it. North Korea is trapped in an impenetrable, soundproof bubble, the entire state frozen in time. Notwithstanding a fractional sliver of the capital, where the Supreme Commander and the North Korean elites resided, the faded Pyongyang skyline and its blocky, monotone buildings - while a vast improvement from the rest of the state - seemed to be lifted straight out of the '70s at best.
So why is North Korea so starkly different from its neighbors when nothing more but mere borders separate them? A tyrannical lineage secured by nepotism. An entire nation indoctrinated by chilling, mindboggling propaganda, molded by fear and forced ignorance. Mass purges doled out seemingly on whims, without fair trials. Unparalleled paranoia and cold-blooded assassinations left and right, seemingly around every curve and corner.