According to the BBC, capitalism is causing famine in North Korea

Over at Samizdatathey have an interesting post about how, according to the BBC, capitalism is causing famine in North Korea (as opposed to Stalinist communism being the root cause of that country’s ills).

I particularly liked “Market reforms introduced in North Korea in recent years mean most people only get about half the food they need through the state and have to buy the rest themselves.”

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14 Responses to According to the BBC, capitalism is causing famine in North Korea

  1. Rob Read says:

    Perhaps it’s badly worded and means that before market reforms people were only able to get half their needs from the state.

    But I am being (unusually) generous to the blight of freedom that is the BBC.


  2. JohninLondon says:


    A correspondence column at the Evening Standard on BBC bias :


  3. David Field says:

    Rob –

    Syntax or sympathy? Who knows.

    But Korea reporting seems to suffer from the same equivalence disease that marred N. Ireland reporting in the past. There was never any equivalence between IRA murderers and Ian Paisley or between the IRA demand to take NI out of the UK and the Unionists’ demand to stay in.

    More often than not the BBC refer to North Korea as some kind of neutral equivalent to South Korea. It is absurd, misleading and inaccurate. North Korea is a vile, inhuman, half starved, hereditary dictatorship. South Korea is a functioning and prosperous democracy. It is these truths which explain most of their behaviour. But the BBC scrupulously avoids too much mention of these truths – mostly I think because it doesn’t fit into its anti neocon anti-American world view.


  4. Monkey says:

    I’d be interested to see the stats comparing the number of times the BBC have reported alleged Israeli human rights abuses vs the number of times they have reported North Korean (or other commie states for that matter) human rights abuses, which are far more extensive

    There are hundreds of thousands of innocent people in North Korean gulags, including the children. North Korean law actually states that punishment must be extended over 3 generations.

    It’s all about scale. 1 Palestinian teenager is shot trying to smuggle weapons through a checkpoint – headline news. Hundreds of thousands imprisoned or executed in North Korea. Not mentioned.

    Israel gets more negative coverage than North Korea, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Nepal, Singapore, Cuba, Bolivia, Venezuela, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Egypt, Iran, Libya, Nigeria, Congo etc PUT TOGETHER.

    The only states that they concentrate on are Israel, the US and Zimbabwe.

    In fact, there have probably been 100 times more reports about the alleged human rights abuses of a few dozen terrorists at Guantamo bay Cuba, than of the appalling repression, impoverishment, and threat of imprisonment and torture (for crimes such as reading an unapproved book) of 7,000,000 Cuban citizens on the same island!

    It seems that the beeb use all of their vast resources to attack SELECTIVE targets.

    This principle extends to the domestic sphere as well. They attack Conservative institutions (the police, the army, far right groups etc)

    but give leftist institutions (social workers, the NHS, radical islamic groups, Respect, SWP etc… not to mention the UN and the EU) a completely free ride.

    I am not objecting to their investigating of conservative institutions, or far right groups. It is their complete unwillingness to investigate anything left of centre which I object to.

    The Beeb is an attack dog of the left.
    An attack dog with billions of pounds worth of resources.


  5. Boy Blue says:


    Well said. In fact the slaughter in the Sudan, not exactly a million miles from Israel, has been going on for at least a decade and has a body count several orders of magnitude greater then that in the Palestinian • Israeli conflict. So why the scant coverage?

    One must ask the most obvious question of all. If the Palestinians were in conflict with anyone else (such as Egypt or Jordan), how much coverage would they get? About the same as that given to Pigmy tribesmen in the Congo……or black people in the Sudan I suspect.


  6. David Field says:

    Monkey –

    Couldn’t agree more.

    Again looking at Israel and the Palestinians, what would the comparison be with the issue of the Kurds – another dispossessed people in the Middle East. That has been a little coverage becasue of the Iraq war but nothing on the scale of Palestine. It seems if it is fellow Muslims doing the dispossessing that is of no account.


  7. Anonymous says:

    Monkey, what cretinous logic.

    * The BBC has reported Palestinian suicide bombings of Israel considerably more times than an equivalent number of Hutu massacres or the like. Searching for “suicide” and “Israel” brings up 1,123 hits on the BBC site.

    * Does the BBC report Israel more than other news organisations? Fox News reports more on Israel than the rest of Sudan etc together. Are you accusing them of bias too?

    * All news organisations report events that have either more political importance or cultural relevance than events that don’t. Israel has geopolitical importance well beyond its “weight”.

    * Yes, the BBC has selective targets for the news. It featured months of 9/11 coverage. Did 3,000 dead Congolese get the same analysis? Why?

    Frankly, your reasoning lacks both logic and an understanding of how the broader market and environment for news works.


  8. JH says:


    What ‘broader market for news’? The BBC is funded through what is effectively a polltax – It is entirely protected from the real market by its privileged government funded status. We pay for it whether we like it or not, whether we use it or not. That is no market.


  9. Rob Read says:

    There is a broader market for news.

    It’s called Blogs.

    The are more reliable than the BBC.

    Do more fact checking.

    Announce their inherant bias.

    Are more honest when they make mistakes.

    Don’t cost me a penny.

    Give the UK a 2.8 Billion pound tax cut, abolish the BBC.


  10. David Field says:

    Anonymous –

    Clearly there are elements of truth in what you say but what exaclty are you saying?

    Looking at what you write you seem to agree that the BBC – for whatever reason – does distinguish between different types of oppression since you can’t be saying that the Palestinians have suffered more than the Kurds or the Tutsis can you?

    So what is the justification for the differential reporting. You claim Fox suffers from the same bias. Maybe – I don’t get that channel. This is a site focussing on BBC bias. So, what can the justificatino be for all the concentration on the Palestine issue.

    I can see only one RATIONAL justification and that is that it is important in geopolitical terms. That is arguable but only just I think. The strange thing is if we look on the other side of the globe we have far worse human rights violations in Korea and we have far greater potential for nuclear proliferation and war. But that receives little attention. I can’t recall ever seeing interviews on BBC with South Korean activists seeking to liberate their brothers and sisters in the North.


  11. Anonymous says:

    David, while I accept this is a BBC bias blog, it doesn’t progress things much not to compare how often the BBC reports on Israel without reference to how often other news organisations do.

    In extremis, one can wonder why the BBC focuses more on child mortality in a British hospital and not on the child mortality among Amazonian pygmies. Both have the same qualitative value in terms of life.

    Clearly, not only for the BBC, but for a host of other media organisations, Israel *is* important.

    Why not North Korea? Firstly, I would disagree that the BBC doesn’t cover it. It does. Of all broadcasters, it would be hard to argue of another that had better global coverage.

    Secondly, North Korea *in terms of the news market* (and even the BBC “competes” in the news market for audience share) is less important. Lots of things should be more important, but “important” is more often a subjective, rather than an objective quality.

    Thirdly, Israel is easier for journalists to cover, by simple virtue of being able to place journalists there, which is impossible in N Korea. Even assuming North Korea became *the* hot topic, the flow of primary news from any organisation would be limited.

    Ultimately, these arguments relate to two things:

    1) Does the BBC focus on Israel more than other news organisations? – an unproven charge
    2) Should the BBC focus more on x, where x is more likely to involve a highly subjective judgment of newsworthiness.


  12. Rob Read says:

    The argument breaks up into this.

    Do you value the BBCs output?
    Will you be threatened with jail if you don’t pay for it?


  13. David Field says:

    Anonymous –

    I feel we are getting somewhere.

    You accept that there is differential reporting and that, for whatever reason, the BBC is prey to it as well.

    You accept that part of the reason Palestine gets so much coverage is because it’s easier to report on. Or in other words – Israel is a democracy.

    I accept there are reasons both political and cultural why Palestine attracts such attention. It is always going to be near the top of the charts. But it seems to me that the BBC has a duty to be balanced in a global sense as well. It should also do much more to report on the dhimmi status of non-Muslims in the Muslim world the forced exodus of millions of Jews from around the world. It should be prepared to set the conflict in context. It is one of many disputes around the globe where people compete over the same piece of land. But in terms of human casualties it has been a very low intensity affair – probably in recent years on the same level as the number of Shias blown up by SUnni extremists in Pakistan say.

    The day a Barbara Plett sheds a tear over the death of an innocent in a North Korean torture camp, rather than not-missed-at-all Chairman Arafat we will perhaps be making progress.


  14. Anonymous says:

    Of course there is differential reporting. From the premise that all events everywhere cannot be covered in the same detail, this is a truism.

    I agree, Israel’s democracatic status makes it easier to operate in for journos. It makes it both easier to disseminate and official line and leaves it more open to scrutiny.

    We could both sit down and chalk up a large list of highly important things that don’t get enough airtime. Most, perhaps all, deserve it. However, each list would reflect each of specific political leanings.

    I would disagree, however, that the importance of Israel reflects a political leaning, because some of the most prominent reporting comes from both right and left wing media organisations.

    I would also heartily agree that not enough reporting on poisonous islamicism exists. I would also agree that there are a number of stories/topics from the “left” and the “right” that deserve more airtime.

    But these are partly determined by (a) ability to physically report the facts (b) what the audience considers to be important (c) a subjective judgment by critics, including you and me, of what is important, what *should* be shown, what the people *should* hear/see.