Here Is the Foreign Literature Loaded on North Korea’s iPad Knockoff


North Korea has its own version of the iPad—it’s called the Samjiyon. Internet access is tightly controlled by the humanrightsallergic regime, so the device is merely another conduit for state propaganda. It comes pre-loaded with games, a multi-language dictionary, and an interesting collection of eBooks in the “foreign literature” section. University of Vienna professor Rüdiger Frank gave the world an inside look at this selection of foreign books in a recent review of the Samjiyon for 38 North:

North Korea foreign books tablet

Via 38north.org

“For most of these works, it seems easy or at least possible to understand why they have been included here,” Frank writes. “They depict either the miserable life under feudalism and capitalism (Balzac, Dickens, and Hugo), the patriotic fight to repel foreign invaders (Ivanhoe) or the revolutionary struggle against reactionary forces.”

As the Washington Post‘s Andrea Peterson pointed out on Monday, Gone with the Wind—Margaret Mitchell’s Pulitzer-winning 1936 novel that was adapted into the beloved film—is one of the most popular foreign titles in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Also, the film, which was a favorite of late dictator Kim Jong Il, is sometimes used in English-language training programs for top North Korean officials. Here’s an excerpt from Associated Press correspondent Tim Sullivan’s 2012 report on reading Gone with the Wind in Pyongyang:

In Gone With the Wind, North Koreans found echoes of their own history and insights into the United States: bloody civil wars fought nearly a century apart; two cities—Atlanta and Pyongyang—reduced to rubble after attacks by U.S. forces; two cultures that still celebrate the way they stood up to the Yankees…Perhaps more than anything, though, North Koreans found what readers everywhere ask of a good novel: an escape and a comfort. And in a country with little in the way of entertainment, a police state that keeps the entire population relentlessly on edge, Mitchell’s well-told (if relentlessly soapy) tale of lost love, mansion life, war and honor became an important refuge.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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