The North Korean global happiness index

Here at MR we are always keen to report dissenting viewpoints:

China is the happiest place on earth(!!) according to a new global happiness index released by North Korea’s Chosun Central Television. China earned 100 out of 100 points, followed closely by North Korea (98 points), then Cuba, Iran, and Venezuela. Coming in at 203rd place is America (or rather “the American Empire”, 美帝国), with only 3 happiness points. South Korea got a measly 18 points for 152nd place.

I cannot find the full rankings (which countries came between South Korea and the United States?) but here is a partial screen shot of the results, in Chinese.  For the pointer I thank Eapen Thampy.


Curious why they allowed China to beat themselves. To establish credibility?

Your average North Korean civilian won't ever personally know someone who has visited anywhere outside NK besides China and may even know of people who went to China but never came back. So there's undoubtedly the grass roots knowledge that "things are better in China".

My theory is that enough people in DPRK have contact with China that it already seems a paradise of sorts (as well as a beloved ally). So not ranking them #1 would have been too weird and contradictory.

Is this a Chinese version of The Onion?

North Korean version of the National Institute of Science

That would explain the popularity of these shirts in Beijing, then:

A warmist outfit put out a similar "happiness index" based on per-capita carbon footprints. Not surprisingly, poverty-stricken communist countries scored highly, while countries with a decent standard of living did badly. The one anomaly is China has a relatively high carbon footprint due to actually having a functioning economy, so it wasn't at the top in that study.

Shockingly, the NKs didn't release much detail as far as scoring is concerned, but one could imagine that it's likely based on some CO2 emissions minus exported stuff or some such.

I've always believed that this was a problem with so called "happiness studies". I often joked that if you just looked at survey results, North Korea would rank #1 because they'd be punished if they said anything else.

It looks like truth is stranger than fiction.

It's worth mentioning that America ranks as the last country in this list of happiness.... And I think unemployment played a huge role in the ranking, as in North Korea actually nobody is unemployed.

I expect Krugman will be citing this as authoritative, such is his reality.

That screenshot says

1. China
2. North Korea
3. Cuba
4. Iran
5. Venezuela
152. South Korea
203. USA

The ranking is a piece of satire.

Thanks for pointing that out. Now I'll cancel my plans to emigrate.

Actually from what I have seen in the US the Chinese (from China, that is) do actually seem to be the happiest people. Thanks to the Chinese governmental crackdowns on free speech, they don't seem to get as worked up as Americans, Koreans, Indians etc. on political issues. They have always seemed to me to be a relatively contented and productive people, quietly going about their normal lives without much agitation.

Have you talked to Chinese in China? It's hard to get in a cab without the driver complaining about something, whether it is traffic or corruption. And just about every young Chinese person I know is incredibly stressed either with finding a job (scarce for college grads) or buying a house (prices for apartments in Beijing and Shanghai have gone up ten fold in the past ten years).

No I haven't talked to a Chinese in China; my comment was purely anecdotal based on my Chinese friends in USA, and I meant it to be understood that it could well be wrong.

Sandeep, if that's true the correlation (oppression=happy), I'd rather be unhappy and agitated. What's the point otherwise?

I believe what he's saying is preceding bad times make good times seem even better.

That's my guess as well - restrictions are still high relative to the US, but that doesn't matter to them. What matters is their freedom today relative to yesterday.

I still doubt the accuracy of anything coming out of North Korea.

First of all, my purely anecdotal comment could be wrong.

That said, you are talking from the perspective of someone who already has tasted free speech. It is difficult for you (or for me) to suddenly shift to a place without free speech. You might have a different opinion if you grew up in China.

Look at the other side of free speech; you constantly have to see articles that not only brand people of your view point as deranged, but also your very existence as illegitimate. It doesn't work out well for sensitive people like me. Even so many of Tyler's posts have made me feel like a second class citizen and inferior human being (let me not get into the details). I am like an alcoholic; I know these things hurt me but still can't get out of it.

I can't believe that Somalia beat us once again! Living in the American Empire makes me feel so small and insignificant. . .

Why is it in Chinese characters and not in Korean characters?

The screenshot is from a Chinese website.

China ranks before NK because, in dictator think, China will be more apt to provide aid since attaining this exalted status. This stuff is common in totalitarian regimes. The USSR held up Olympic medals as proof of Marxism's triumph or Cuba showed the masses forced to stand for hours as their "leaders" screamed about their superiority (surrounded by armed guards). What a crazy world.

Where is Burma on that list

I personally believe this is satire. I have scoured recent North Korean media (both print and televised) and cannot find the original North Korean report anywhere. And just for the record, from the discussions I have had with North Korean defectors and their friends, I do not believe many North Koreans would believe this report if they heard it.

May be satire, but I wouldn't draw to much from the opinions of defectors--they're probably not a representative sample of the broader population.

I have made many trips to Beijing and Shanghai for business. And I have to say, life in these two Chinese cities is surprisingly happy! There's a dynamic vibe among people there, especially younger people.

There is a lot of speculation that the ranking is fake. I also thought it was fake until I encountered the following link (don't bother if you don't understand Mandarin):

It's a video news bulletin from The Global Times, which is one of the CCP's media organizations that focuses on international issues. The bulletin basically says that NK put the ranking out to counter the OECD's happiness ranking, and rehashes everything that Tyler posted above. So it's probably real.

Of course, nothing will be completely cleared up until somehow who understands Korean can find an official DPRK report and post it here.

I find it hilarious that anyone takes this "ranking" seriously to the extent of wondering about the methodology or what pieces went into it. A typical Onion article probably has more methodological validity.

And I thought the DPRK had no sense of humor. This report clearly shows that I am wrong. North Koreans as the second happiest. Best joke of the day.

Iran's position is mystifying to me. I can see that a highly ideological selection of criteria might result in China, NK, Cuba, and Venezuela atop the list, but how does non-Marxist Iran make it? Or is the most heavily weighted criterion simply "opposition to America?"

Results based on the responses of kidnapped foreign nationals resident in Pyongyang.

I am going to go get me a hot North Korea chick to come help me spend all my unhappy-ness! And see if she has a few hot friends that would like to fill my seven bedroom prision in the hidious rocky mountians. Where the evil american empire keeps me prisioner in a painful death grip of unhappy-ness and fear of die-ing in the arms of a hot chinezzzz honey bunny that will help heal me from my total evil american unhappy-ness!

This shows which they last very much lengthier and thus saving you income which could otherwise are actually utilized to purchase new ones.

Most of people may not understand this index. But maybe people who lived in socialist country, or buddist monk may understand the reason.

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