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North Korea: Our global fear and fascination

As the Korean peninsula reverberates with tensions, the world remains both perplexed and intrigued by North Korea’s reclusive regime. People across the world have flocked to social media with debate, discussion and anger over the crisis. But why is everyone so interested in the country?


  1. In the Middle East, where the Arab Spring has sparked mass upheaval in recent years, many have been quick to compare their own situation. Tweets translated by revealed much cynicism from Arab observers. 

    @Nawara Nagm: " North Korea will hit the US, and the whole world will explode, and we will all die and get rid of (Egyptian President Mohamed) Morsy. Thank God."


    @Ziyad: "I only fear that North Korea will be defeated and we will carry the burden of Korean refugees."


    @Mohammed Al Hodaif: "The North Korean threats towards the US looks like the Iranian threats towards Israel."

    However, one Libyan wrote on CNNI's Facebook page that he felt that the war of words was escalating out of control:
  2. I'm libyan, and know very much what the war means !! , it starts so easy , with shouting and pretending courage, and ends with blood and tears.what hurts is : nobody wins !!!!!
  3. Meanwhile, thousands of miles away in the U.S., a generation raised on pop culture's fascination with the country through movies such as "Team America" has been quick to make light of the crisis while declaring confidence in the victor of any possible conflict.
  4. At times, the fascination can take a turn from the serious to the surreal.

    Jaws dropped last month when American basketball player Dennis Rodman visited North Korea and declared its leader his "friend for life." This week, American comedian Albert Brooks felt the sportsman's actions could prove useful in forging a resolution to the crisis.
  5. Although he couldn't resist a small dig at North Korea's ruler.
  6. And the move sparked derision from many observers.
  7. Much of the interest and ire in the global community has been directed towards the figure of Kim Jong Un, the nation's leader, who assumed power last year after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il.
  8. Being able to launch a nuclear attack is one thing, being able to survive a retaliation on that tiny island of theirs is another. It is either this is the biggest bluff ever or this little dictator has gone stark raving mad!
  9. He has said he is going to attack the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA with nuclear weapons! Can you even imagine the stupidity? The USA with nuclear weapons! He has no understanding, no comprehension of the POWER of the magnitude of destruction that will wipe out North Korea. He does not understand our capibilities and defenses. How could he be such a fool?
  10. Others have pleaded with all sides to show sense and move to the negotiating table.
  11. But as the world worries -- and jokes -- about the crisis on the Korean peninsula, South Koreans themselves are more pragmatic about the threat across the demilitarized zone between the two countries.

    South Korean student Ik Geun Jang, who lives in Hong Kong, says he received dozens of phone calls from worried international friends, asking whether he's concerned about war. "We are safe, we won't die," he says firmly. "Friends, stop calling me!"
  12. Meanwhile, Korean-American activist Dominica Lim agrees that war is unlikely but warned the international community that it "can't afford to be hopeless or apathetic".
  13. "The regime will eventually fall, perhaps a long, long time from now,  but it will," she said. "And no-one will be able to expect when and how. As we have seen in history, revolutions spring unexpectedly."
  14. The final word comes from someone with vested interest in what happens to North Korea. Seongmin Lee is a defector from the country who now lives in Seoul, the capital of South Korea.

    His harrowing story and reflections on North Korea's motives provide food for thought on why -- jokes and fascinating debate aside -- it is the people on the ground who the world should remember most.