The North Korean defector

by on November 28, 2017 at 3:04 pm in Current Affairs, Medicine | Permalink

Lee said he had never seen such an extreme case of parasitic infection. The soldier had worms not seen in South Korea since the 1970s, but they appeared to be somewhat common north of the border. In a 2014 study, South Korean doctors sampled 17 females who escaped North Korea and found that seven of them were infected with parasitic worms, according to the BBC. They also had higher rates of diseases such as hepatitis B and tuberculosis.

What was just as curious were the raw corn kernels found in Oh’s [the defector’s] stomach, which shocked many South Koreas. North Korean soldiers typically have a higher ranking on the food-rationing list, so it was alarming that the soldier had been eating uncooked corn.

Some reports claim that North Korean soldiers have been ordered to steal corn from farmers to fend off hunger.

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1 A clockwork orange November 28, 2017 at 3:12 pm

There is no shame is wandering with your little i bling

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2 Brian Donohue November 28, 2017 at 3:15 pm

Socialism has a bad name because people keep doing it wrong.

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3 Jan November 28, 2017 at 7:17 pm

China is doing quite well, thanks.

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4 A Truth Seeker November 28, 2017 at 7:18 pm

Maybe you should go live there.

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5 Jan November 28, 2017 at 7:44 pm

Maybe you should.

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6 A Truth Seeker November 28, 2017 at 8:14 pm

No, because I oppose their fascist Red regime.

7 Chip November 28, 2017 at 7:29 pm

Where they abandoned collective ownership of production and property. Ie, the non-socialist bits.

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8 Jan November 28, 2017 at 7:45 pm

What if theirs is the version of socialism that works?

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9 BC November 28, 2017 at 8:11 pm

Socialism, at best, leads to Chinese living standards. Great endorsement…of capitalism.

10 JWatts November 28, 2017 at 8:34 pm

“What if theirs is the version of socialism that works?”

The version with 1 party rule, an authoritarian state and a general disdain for human rights. Sounds pretty typical for Socialists.

11 dan1111 November 29, 2017 at 1:51 am

@JWatts yeah, and the version with a de facto unregulated free market…

12 Harun November 28, 2017 at 8:46 pm

Explain how China is “socialist” beyond the political control.

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13 Thor November 29, 2017 at 12:51 am

The only thing socialist is the down authoritarianism. (And it’s not clear that Xi isn’t an Emperor!)

The marvel is that the Chinese have managed to ride the virtues of their population (studiousness, diligence, intelligence, etc) to economic success while being politically repressive.

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14 JWatts November 29, 2017 at 10:01 am

No, it’s more than just that. They also still maintain the trappings of Communism. It’s still single party rule, direct censorship and control of the press. In addition they still have direct ownership of a large section of the means of production.

The US isn’t 100% capitalist nor is China 100% communist. But it’s still fair to characterize the US as a capitalistic country and China as a socialistic country.

15 Alistair December 1, 2017 at 6:27 am

@JWatts

Is it? I mean, if we put aside the political control, could we make a quantitative comparison of Chinese and US economies? I mean, welfare transfers as proportion of GDP. Regulatory burdens. Tax rates. Gini coefficients. Size of civil service, etc.

Apart from the massive corruption in the banking sector and the overhang of some heavy subsidised industry, I’m not sure China would measure out as very socialist in some sense.

16 DD00 November 28, 2017 at 3:19 pm

Can someone explain why raw corn is a sign of malnutrition? I’ve seen this in almost every report, but I don’t fully understand it. Once you have the actual corn, cooking it just requires heat and water. And as poor as the country is, I don’t think it’s literally in the Early Stone Age.

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17 clockwork_prior November 28, 2017 at 3:24 pm

‘cooking it just requires heat and water’

Actually, just heat – roasted corn on the cob is quite tasty.

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18 Bernard Guerrero November 28, 2017 at 3:39 pm

Cooking corn requires access to the corn and time and a place to cook it. If the corn needs to be consumed “on the fly”, it may indicate a lack of any of those components. E.g. It was stolen and eaten in the field, cooking fuel is in short supply, it needed to be eaten quickly before it was stolen, etc.

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19 raj November 28, 2017 at 6:24 pm

Likely dry corn, not fresh sweet corn (which is picked before maturity and spoils quickly – a luxury). Such corn can be cooked without water by “parching” (dry roasting) – a common method of food preparation among Native Americans and American settlers. Not so tasty, though.

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20 dan in philly November 28, 2017 at 3:39 pm

Cooking speeds up the digestion process and makes the body work less hard when digesting its food. When you’re not getting enough calories anyway, raw food burns too many of them to be a good idea.

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21 Alistair December 1, 2017 at 6:19 am

+1.

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22 So Much For Subtlety November 28, 2017 at 6:42 pm

Maize is also a late-comer to the world of human consumption and it still stubbornly resisting domestication. So it isn’t trying to kill you as such, but it is certainly not co-operating. To be useful to humans you usually have to soak it in an alkaline solution. A process called nixtamalization.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nixtamalization

The nixtamalization process was very important in the early Mesoamerican diet, as unprocessed maize is deficient in free niacin. A population depending on untreated maize as a staple food risks malnourishment, and is more likely to develop deficiency diseases such as pellagra. Maize also is deficient in essential amino acids, which can result in kwashiorkor. Maize cooked with lime provided niacin in this diet. Beans, when consumed with the maize, provided the amino acids required to balance the diet for protein.

During a famine in the Soviet Union, Chinese prisoners were known to pick through other people’s excrement for undigested grains of something or other. Likely to be sweet corn because it is more likely to survive the passage. So we will know when North Korea is in real trouble because the soldiers won’t have undigested grains of maize in their gut.

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23 Joël November 28, 2017 at 3:22 pm

Because (I think) it suggests the soldier was not given raw corn to do as he pleases, but had to steal it, and to eat it immediately to avoid been caught.

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24 Joël November 28, 2017 at 3:22 pm

Sorry, answer to DD00 above

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25 Bernard Guerrero November 28, 2017 at 3:39 pm

+1

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26 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ November 28, 2017 at 3:40 pm

I think his squad should have run away with him. Once one defects it becomes the optimum strategy.

They are probably all dead now.

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27 msgkings November 28, 2017 at 3:45 pm

Perhaps, but maybe the others in the squad had family members they didn’t want to leave/endanger.

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28 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ November 28, 2017 at 3:59 pm

A Trolley Problem!

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29 Thor November 28, 2017 at 6:58 pm

Nope, they are short of those too. It is a top down, communist, command economy, after all.

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30 Jan November 28, 2017 at 7:19 pm

Why are you badmouthing economies like China which are doing so well?

31 Harun November 28, 2017 at 8:48 pm

Jan, do you think your iPhone was made in State Factory #5?

Do you think the actual growing parts of China are state-run on a 5 year plan?

32 Careless November 28, 2017 at 11:31 pm

That is probably not really Jan

33 Thor November 29, 2017 at 12:58 am

Why do I criticize China’s political system when it’s economy is doing well?

Because there’s more to life for social primates like ourselves than the bottom line!

My critique of the Chinese regime is a moral one.

34 So Much For Subtlety November 29, 2017 at 4:17 am

Jan November 28, 2017 at 7:19 pm

Black South Africans were the richest Africans in Africa. Rich enough that Apartheid South Africa had a problem with illegal immigrants from as far away as Nigeria and Somalia – all struggling to be oppressed by White people. If Apartheid made Black South Africans so rich – probably richer than Soviet Central Asians – why do you oppose Apartheid?

Black Americans are, of course, even richer. The richest Black population in the world.

35 A Truth Seeker November 29, 2017 at 8:16 am

“probably richer than Soviet Central Asians…”
Which were richer under the Soviet regime than under the czar. They even had schools and hospitals. Although, it was also the place Soviets sent beggars and disabled people to in the late 50s. Anyway, Central Asia is a legitimate part of the Ruasian Federation.

36 Alistair December 1, 2017 at 6:35 am

They need one of those contracts which only becomes enforceable once it has a certain number of signatories…once 90% of NK signs it, they can all defect together!

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37 Lanigram November 28, 2017 at 3:45 pm

We’ll know the nuke is on the way when the docs start finding parts of other Koreans in the stomachs of defectors.

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38 djw November 28, 2017 at 4:38 pm

Or bite marks in the defectors.

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39 Ted Craig November 28, 2017 at 5:07 pm

“The soldier had worms not seen in South Korea since the 1970s, but they appeared to be somewhat common north of the border.”
I’m starting to believe a big part of the reason China props up N. Korea is that the refugee crisis would be massive, with public health as well as political ramifications.

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40 msgkings November 28, 2017 at 5:12 pm

You just now figured this out?

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41 Ted November 28, 2017 at 5:53 pm

I guess I’m slow.

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42 egl November 28, 2017 at 5:36 pm

During the Great Famine, Chinese fled to Korea. Now the Koreans sneak into China.

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43 A clockwork orange November 28, 2017 at 7:22 pm

In April 1880, when the world was on the cusp of it’s upconcomitance, this type of thing being well known in Burundi, where Chopin’s heart was cut out, sealed in a crystal jar and smuggled past the Russian authorities into what is now Poland.

Dark was the night in Brazil in April in 1880 that by 1878, a great panic set in and 500,000 people left the single Province of Ceara in an exodus of starvation and death. Dark was the night in Sertao.

I reckon they knew that for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also because the government issued a laissez faire soup, and in loudspeakers across the district it was heard: —The soups hearty, cabbage and celery.

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44 A Truth Seeker November 28, 2017 at 8:16 pm

There was no laissez fire soup. The Emperor himself promised to takemmeasures to fight the drought and support the refugees.

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45 Ricardo November 29, 2017 at 10:02 am

“A clockwork orange” is not a real commenter… the replies are never topical. I think someone is using this handle to communicate coded messages.

46 TMC November 28, 2017 at 6:25 pm

Hell of a lot cheaper just to ship food and medical supplies there. See Europe for details.

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47 JWatts November 28, 2017 at 7:08 pm

Well it’s cheaper right up till the time the coddled boy wonder uses a nuclear weapon. Penny wise but pound foolish.

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48 TMC November 29, 2017 at 12:42 pm

I was referring just to the refugees. Fatboy still is well fed as are his scientists.

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49 The Anti-Gnostic November 28, 2017 at 9:58 pm

In other words, Europe is enabling a regime which should have long since collapsed or been overthrown with its brutal leaders hauled in front of firing squads. Great job.

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50 Jan November 28, 2017 at 7:25 pm

And one of those likely ramifications is the ultimate reunification of North and South Korea.

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51 TSB November 28, 2017 at 8:15 pm

I hear this often, but surely it would be trivial for the Chinese army and navy to stop refugees crossing the borders and the Yellow Sea?

I suspect the only reason is unwillingness to give up a pawn which complicates strategy for the US and Japan and would lock up siginificant resources in the event of a China-US military conflict.

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52 A Truth Seeker November 28, 2017 at 8:19 pm

Maybe, but the Chinese probably do not want to crush the Koreans unless they have to. They are not cowards las the Americans are, but they don’t want a logistical , PR nightmare.

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53 Jeff R November 28, 2017 at 8:30 pm

Maybe China just doesn’t have the manpower.

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54 A clockwork orange November 28, 2017 at 9:51 pm

I’m not anti blitzen and basher, but I’d still shake their hands.

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55 Clerk November 29, 2017 at 1:48 pm

“In a 2014 study, South Korean doctors sampled 17 females who escaped North Korea and found that seven of them were infected with parasitic worms, according to the BBC.”

It’s worth noting there may be some selection bias here. Getting parasitic worms may increase the likelihood of defection by quite a bit – they can treat these things in the South! So the severity of this problem is probably overstated.

(This is not to take away from the fact that conditions in NK are terrible.)

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56 Sean Brown November 28, 2017 at 6:24 pm

The next day, a legislator from South Korea socialist party (Justice Party) harshly criticized the doctor for violating South Korea version of HIPAA (patient privacy).

That legislator himself was then the target of fierce blowback from the press and online commenters. The doctor then held another press conference to defend himself and his public image, and his hospital invited back the Korean sea captain who had been shot by Somalis and saved by the doctor, in order to thank the doctor and tell the press and Korean public about what a good person the doctor is.

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57 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ November 28, 2017 at 6:58 pm
58 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ November 28, 2017 at 7:00 pm

Trolley problem: if you continue down the tracks millions might die, but if you turn, Democrats might win the presidency in 2020.

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59 So Much For Subtlety November 28, 2017 at 7:15 pm

…. and then millions die.

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60 ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ November 28, 2017 at 7:45 pm

“War is inevitable” signs pave the road to more than one hell.

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61 A Truth Seeker November 28, 2017 at 8:17 pm

If you want peace, prepare for war.

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62 a clockwork apriori November 28, 2017 at 9:42 pm

The more sweat spilled in training, the less blood will be spilled in battle.

63 carlospln November 28, 2017 at 7:30 pm

He’ll be free of any auto immune disorders

https://theconversation.com/they-might-sound-gross-but-intestinal-worms-can-actually-be-good-for-you-49868

Once they clear him of all the vermes parasites & he’s discharged from hospital, he’ll be subject to the Western diet and put on enormous amounts of weight, develop metabolic syndrome, etc etc Like this: http://www.news.com.au/world/asia/north-korea-is-kim-jongun-suffering-bad-health/news-story/671fdbf09547cc870f697f4c80a680a6

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64 Jan November 28, 2017 at 7:43 pm

I don’t understand why Trump doesn’t just send his head diplomat, Mr Charisma Rex T to go solve the hell out of this thing. Surely with master negotiator Donald in his earpiece he can get us the best most magnificent deal ever.

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65 chuck martel November 28, 2017 at 7:50 pm

Try mixing some water with your bourbon instead of drinking it right out of the bottle.

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66 Borjigid November 28, 2017 at 8:58 pm

Or give it to me.

Waste is bad.

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67 Ronald November 28, 2017 at 9:36 pm

So is this corn, as in maize, or corn as in grain? Translations aren’t always clear on this.

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68 Careless November 28, 2017 at 11:40 pm

Well, it does say “kernels” instead of “grains” so I’d think maize. Their other two biggest crops appear to be rice and potatoes.

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69 Ronald November 29, 2017 at 6:31 am

Thank you.

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70 Alex November 29, 2017 at 9:25 am

When this guy gets well I hope folks with money invite him to the US to do a book and give many interviews.

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