North Korea Opens Town Praised As 'The Epitome Of Civilization'

North Korea is a dystopia's dystopia. If you're sick of having a functioning economy, any trace of democracy, and fact-based beliefs, then the Hermit Kingdom will cure what ails you and then some. It has a lengthy history of preposterous propaganda and unbelievably evil leaders. During the Korean War, the nation's first dictator, Kim Il-sung, had more than 80,000 South Koreans kidnapped. In the decades that followed, Japanese nationals were snatched on the coast of Japan, "thrown into sacks," and taken away on inflatable rafts so that North Korea could force them to train spies, per The Guardian

Business Insider reports that North Korea is so poor that farmers steal each other's poop to use as fertilizer. Meanwhile, dictator Kim Jong, who had an estimated net worth of about $5 billion in 2013, reportedly takes a portable toilet wherever he goes because, as a North Korean defector explained, "The leader's excretions contain information about his health status so they can't be left behind." And the Hermit Kingdom is home to gulags that an Auschwitz survivor described as being "as terrible, or even worse" than Nazi concentration camps.

In short, North Korea sounds more like the problem-fraught "Hotel of Doom" the juts ominously above the buildings in the country's capital, Pyongyang. Yet in 2019, the Hermit Kingdom's poop-obsessed despot proudly announced that his country of doom had erected the "epitome of modern civilization" and officially opened that epitome for business.

Two and two is utopia

As the BBC details, Kim Jong Un held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Samjiyon, which state media touted as a "utopia town under socialism." A captive audience of citizens cheered as their Kim presented his urban magnum opus. Supposedly, Samjiyon can house 4,000 families and is home to ski slopes and a stadium along with other amenities. It's believed that the city was achieved through forced labor. But in keeping with the theme, you might think of it as modern-day slavery. It's not exactly a metropolis, though, as it only extends about 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) to 1.9 miles (3 kilometers) "in either direction."

Even if the state media was telling the truth — and keep in mind that this same state media once reported that North Korea had a unicorn lair — it would be a tiny sliver of joy that most citizens are too poor to enjoy. So what's the point? As George Orwell pointed out in 1984, in such a society, "The heresy of heresies [is] commonsense." For in North Korea, "the very existence of external reality" is "tacitly denied."