Bratislava, Slovakia—Living conditions and tensions in North Korean society were the topic of a lecture presented by UPF-Slovakia.
The presentation on June 5, 2018, followed a successful event that UPF-Slovakia held in February 2018 on traditions and ethics of Korean society. During that event, the audience raised questions about North Korea. As soon as the summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un was announced for June 12, UPF-Slovakia made plans to hold a program about North Korea.
The event, titled “Secretive North Korea,” was organized in close cooperation with the Futurological Society in Slovakia, a member of the Association of Slovak Scientific and Technological Societies. The venue was the meeting room of the Department of Philosophy of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, located in the center of Bratislava.
The publicity for the event aroused considerable interest. Sixty guests showed up at the lecture—far more than expected—despite a terrible heatwave.
The chair of the Futurological Society in Slovakia opened the meeting by welcoming the participants. He emphasized the timeliness of the gathering, coming one week before the scheduled Trump-Kim summit in Singapore.
The presentation was given by Milos Prochazka, Ph.D., who teaches Korean history at Comenius University in Bratislava. He explained the common heritage as well as the differences between North and South Korea; the many riddles surrounding the strictly controlled everyday life; the prospects for the average citizens after the long-awaited unification, and more.
He predicted that Korean reunification would be far more difficult than the reunification of East and West Germany in 1990. Dr. Prochazka also showed a short video about a North Korean girl who was asked to express happiness but was unable to do so.
After the lecture there was an intense question-and-answer session. Some members of the audience who were known to be left-wing ideologues defended the totalitarian state of North Korea and its measures as mere self-defense against what they called the imperialism of the United States. But more guests felt victimized by the former communist regime that ruled Czechoslovakia until 1989 and said so loudly.
One guest who had visited North Korea depicted depressing impressions from real life that he observed there. UPF-Slovakia Secretary General Milos Klas made efforts to let all sides of the debate be heard.
The guests were also introduced to the book The Cleanest Race: How North Koreans See Themselves and Why It Matters, an excellent explanation of North Korean propaganda written by B.R. Myers, an American professor of international studies and an expert on North Korea.