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(Business Insider)   FARKER spent the fall teaching computer science in Pyongyang. Here's his Instagram   (businessinsider.com ) divider line
    More: Cool, Pyongyang, North Korea  
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6032 clicks; posted to Geek » on 07 Jan 2014 at 1:17 AM (2 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-01-07 05:33:15 AM  
I don't have a lot of interest in travel, but if I could go anywhere, it would be there.

Google Koryo Tours, based in Beijing, for guided trips.  The Mass Games might be the largest human performance in the history of the world.
 
2014-01-07 06:17:12 AM  
That place looks depressing.
 
2014-01-07 06:52:04 AM  
So....were they any good at StarCraft?
 
2014-01-07 06:57:01 AM  

log_jammin: I hate to be "that guy" that's always in fark threads, ready to shiat on something that's pretty cool...but...the cynic in me says that teaching CS over there is kinda helping the regime. the average north Korean isn't going to benefit from it, only the elite. The last thing NK needs is people teaching them how to get awesome frames in battlefield 4.


One of the things which led to the end of the Eastern Bloc and Soviet Union was computer science. When kids get interested in it they want to know more explore the world and connect with others who have the same interests.

Computers (and the internet) are fundamentally subversive as computers make people of a certain bent creative. And the internet shows you just how big and varied the world is.
 
2014-01-07 07:06:43 AM  
Needed as a t-shirt:

"Someone we know went to North Korea, and all we got was this shiatty FARK thread".
 
2014-01-07 07:11:47 AM  

karmaceutical: I think people' borderline obsession with North Korea is very strange.  It seems to be an affliction of right-leaning news addicts.


I think it transcends that; it's a case study on a failed society.  Human social negative feedback mechanisms that would prevent such a thing from happening all catastrophically failed, until it's the closest thing humans have created to a hive on the scale of a country -- except nowhere near as successful or efficient.  If anything, a great percentage of their resources are spent maintaining the failure.  The entire country is motivated to support a leader that provides no value.  It's like a beetle killed the queen of an ant's nest and took over.  You want a case for the importance of independent, critical thinking skills?  Here ya go.

The only real connection to right-leaning news is, as much as they demonize America's "enemies", Fox News wishes they were this wildly successful at controlling people.
 
2014-01-07 07:36:30 AM  

AverageAmericanGuy: Those same students will one day be sitting at these desks preparing to rain fire down upon the cowardly infidel dog Americans.

[img.fark.net image 850x553]

I can't support that.


Wow, that looks exactly like how I set up my Control Room in Evil Genius.
 
2014-01-07 07:41:24 AM  
Fraternizing with the enemy?  Lucky we're not like them or subby could be stripped naked and thrown into a pit of hungry dogs.....or bees.
 
2014-01-07 07:53:18 AM  

Confabulat: And the cannibalism tales seem to be pretty overrated and more like folklore at this point, though it may have happened in the 90s or even now in rare occasions. But it's hardly something that happens on a daily basis.


Dear Sir, I am glad to hear that your experience in the DPRK didn't involve cannibalism. As a Farker I abhor the implication that Fark.com is a haven for cannibalism. It is well known that we have the problem relatively under control, and that it is 4chan who now suffer the largest casualties in this area. And what do you think the  netizens ate on Usenet? Sysadmins? Yours etc. Captain B.J. Smethwick in a white wine sauce with shallots, mushrooms and garlic.
 
2014-01-07 07:54:25 AM  

MadMonk: Fraternizing with the enemy?  Lucky we're not like them or subby could be stripped naked and thrown into a pit of hungry dogs.....or bees.


Best kind of bees are around on October 31st:  Boo bees.
 
2014-01-07 08:04:55 AM  

dragonchild: karmaceutical: I think people' borderline obsession with North Korea is very strange.  It seems to be an affliction of right-leaning news addicts.

I think it transcends that; it's a case study on a failed society.  Human social negative feedback mechanisms that would prevent such a thing from happening all catastrophically failed, until it's the closest thing humans have created to a hive on the scale of a country -- except nowhere near as successful or efficient.  If anything, a great percentage of their resources are spent maintaining the failure.  The entire country is motivated to support a leader that provides no value.  It's like a beetle killed the queen of an ant's nest and took over.  You want a case for the importance of independent, critical thinking skills?  Here ya go.

The only real connection to right-leaning news is, as much as they demonize America's "enemies", Fox News wishes they were this wildly successful at controlling people.


See, for me, I've always been really interested in mind control and cults, ever since Jim Jones and Guyana. I used to work in downtown Clearwater a decade or so ago and I got really enamored with the Scientology Sea Org. People compare North Korea to Stalin but that is wrong; Kim Il-Sung way improved his methods. Stalin had to try to control a population spread out over most of Europe and Asia; North Korea is about the size of Pennsylvania. It's a hell of a lot easier to pull those tricks when you can actually record and keep track of everyone.

It really is Orwell's 1984, like down to the details. It's amazing to look at Google Maps and read from people and watch documentaries which is all I can do from here.

It's the craziest place ever, and to be fair, the US did help create it (though we were far from alone). It's like Bioshock Infinite in a way or something. Just sci-fi in real life.
 
2014-01-07 08:11:00 AM  

Confabulat: NewportBarGuy: Confabulat: Because it would be the most like visiting a sci-fi city I'm likely to experience in my lifetime.

You know they eat human beings there? Right?

I've read all the good books. Nothing to Envy, Pyongyang, Escape from Camp 14. I've watched all the documentaries. I keep up with the news. I figure I know as much as North Korea as any American who's never set foot in there.



I've got Nothing to Envy, but I'll have to check out Pyongyang and Escape. I'd also recommend checking out Somewhere Inside as well.  It's certainly not a look into the 'everyday' North Korean, but it's a pretty fascinating look at how they leverage foreign prisoners and the humanity of the people which eventually shines through even the darkest government.
 
2014-01-07 08:19:50 AM  

NewportBarGuy: Confabulat: I don't have a lot of interest in travel, but if I could go anywhere, it would be there.

Why?


because forever after, bad vacation happenings could be placed in perspective by saying, "You think this is bad? I remember one time...."
 
2014-01-07 08:30:10 AM  

Mytch: I'd also recommend checking out Somewhere Inside as well.


Oh cool I put that on my endless Amazon list. I know the basic story of those two but that should be a good read.

See another thing, is only recently have we gotten enough glimpses and books and documentaries about the place to really even halfway figure it out. During the famine years in the 90s, no one heard a damn thing from them.

Even before I read Nothing to Envy I got really sucked into Chongjin just from scanning Google Maps one day. Count the number of problems you can see there. I used to get paid as an environmental scientist and we would read satellite maps to determine things, sort of, but wow. Half that city is black. and those endless odd shadows in the hills are graves.
 
2014-01-07 08:37:11 AM  

Confabulat: NewportBarGuy: Hey, it is what it is. Glad you made it back.

I'm pretty sure they don't let you wander off the tourist trail long enough to meet the cannibals you know.


I'd be more concerned about the cannibals I don't know.
 
2014-01-07 08:42:20 AM  
can sum1 do a magik deslide?
 
2014-01-07 08:43:35 AM  
the UFIA one was the best.
 
2014-01-07 08:44:25 AM  
did you meet Dennis Rodman?
 
2014-01-07 08:59:50 AM  
A spaceship play structure in the lobby of the Pyongyang Children's Palace. Will and his group were scolded when they tried to look at the cockpit area

distilleryimage1.ak.instagram.com
National secrets, huh?
 
2014-01-07 09:08:16 AM  
I've traveled to S. Korea on various business ventures since the late 80s - very nearly settled down near Masan, in fact.   I love almost everything about the people, food and culture but I know nothing concrete about the people of N. Korea.  Paraphrasing Confabulat, I know just about everything I can know without ever having been there.

I can conjecture that at the end of WWII, Koreans were all generally of the same culture that had persisted and evolved over at least hundreds of years (perhaps counting from the reign of Sejong the Great).  After the armistice was signed in '53, S. Koreans began a decades long struggle to pull themselves not just into the first world, but all the way into a preeminent position. I like to imagine that N. Koreans may still have the same characteristics necessary succeed, given the chance, but while their southern kin were busy being scrappy and bootstrappy, the North were busy fighting for scraps and being boot-heeled.  Three or four generations that shiat later, can they still be Koreans as I would recognize?  I don't know, but as I said, I like to think so.

But to the topic at hand, computer science teaching dude is a shiatbag for aiding, abetting and providing comfort to the enemy.  Just my opinion.  I know there are S. Koreans who would disagree with me, but hey - there are dumb people in every culture.
 
2014-01-07 10:05:01 AM  

log_jammin: I hate to be "that guy" that's always in fark threads, ready to shiat on something that's pretty cool...but...the cynic in me says that teaching CS over there is kinda helping the regime. the average north Korean isn't going to benefit from it, only the elite. The last thing NK needs is people teaching them how to get awesome frames in battlefield 4.


Yes, that's my knee jerk reaction except...

how do you think NK will change? We're not willing to go in for many reasons, despite that we know about concentration camp like conditions. We *know* it's a horror show, it's not propaganda or speculation. We don't know the full extent of all the horrors but what we do know...it's bad. Really bad.

But since NK can't really look at liberation externally, especially as long as they're propped up by China...what will make the people free? Information. They don't have it now. China has changed dramatically just from information exposure. So has the middle east, though it doesn't seem as obvious from media shiat and from the outside...The Daily Show did a good piece on Iran and what the *average* young person is like.

Now granted, in a country where outside of the sham cities there are literally children who starve on the streets, they're not going to have easy access to computers. Those who will, will find out information. It's hard to keep information from spreading. The populace as near as anyone can tell, believes what the NK state has told them because they don't have any methods of knowing otherwise.

Slavery is ALWAYS threatened by knowledge and information, true in the time of Frederick Douglass, and still true today.

All that being said, I think that's the silver lining. I don't know that I would want to potentially contribute in any way to the NK gov't and their treatment of their people. But it may be possible that this type of good could come from it. =\

Slavery like this shiat though is one of the worst sins humans commit against each other. So awful.
 
2014-01-07 10:26:44 AM  

SansNeural: I've traveled to S. Korea on various business ventures since the late 80s - very nearly settled down near Masan, in fact.   I love almost everything about the people, food and culture but I know nothing concrete about the people of N. Korea.  Paraphrasing Confabulat, I know just about everything I can know without ever having been there.

I can conjecture that at the end of WWII, Koreans were all generally of the same culture that had persisted and evolved over at least hundreds of years (perhaps counting from the reign of Sejong the Great).  After the armistice was signed in '53, S. Koreans began a decades long struggle to pull themselves not just into the first world, but all the way into a preeminent position. I like to imagine that N. Koreans may still have the same characteristics necessary succeed, given the chance, but while their southern kin were busy being scrappy and bootstrappy, the North were busy fighting for scraps and being boot-heeled.  Three or four generations that shiat later, can they still be Koreans as I would recognize?  I don't know, but as I said, I like to think so.

But to the topic at hand, computer science teaching dude is a shiatbag for aiding, abetting and providing comfort to the enemy.  Just my opinion.  I know there are S. Koreans who would disagree with me, but hey - there are dumb people in every culture.


I live near Seoul, South Korea.  All I can think of is that this guy's students are going to be the ones training to lock down my bank access in the next round of DPRK hack attacks.
 
2014-01-07 10:27:08 AM  

NewportBarGuy: Confabulat: Because it would be the most like visiting a sci-fi city I'm likely to experience in my lifetime.

You know they eat human beings there? Right?


They do it in PNG too. What's your point?
 
2014-01-07 11:42:20 AM  

log_jammin: Confabulat: Living in Pyongyang may be "elite" by North Korean standards but they are not automatically bad human beings.

I certainly wasn't implying that. But those probably not bad human beings, are still cogs in a very bloody machine and are being taught skills that will only be used to help that machine. It won't benefit the people in any way, as far as I can see.


aren't we all?
 
2014-01-07 12:10:23 PM  

JolobinSmokin: log_jammin: Confabulat: Living in Pyongyang may be "elite" by North Korean standards but they are not automatically bad human beings.

I certainly wasn't implying that. But those probably not bad human beings, are still cogs in a very bloody machine and are being taught skills that will only be used to help that machine. It won't benefit the people in any way, as far as I can see.

aren't we all?


Cogs in a bloody machine? Sure. Cogs in a bloody machine that puts your family in a concentration camp if you leave the country? Nope
 
2014-01-07 12:14:22 PM  

log_jammin: JolobinSmokin: log_jammin: Confabulat: Living in Pyongyang may be "elite" by North Korean standards but they are not automatically bad human beings.

I certainly wasn't implying that. But those probably not bad human beings, are still cogs in a very bloody machine and are being taught skills that will only be used to help that machine. It won't benefit the people in any way, as far as I can see.

aren't we all?

Cogs in a bloody machine? Sure. Cogs in a bloody machine that puts your family in a concentration camp if you leave the country? Nope


Apparently you've never tried to leave Oklahoma.
 
2014-01-07 12:17:21 PM  
I'm torn.  I know folks who have turned down lucrative contracts because of ethical concerns over the end-use of the product.  Not certainty, mind you, just the possibility of abuse.  So I can follow the arguments against doing anything, ever that might help DPRK.

I like the counter-argument that teaching computer science is fundamentally subversive to a regime like the three little Kims have maintained.  But you still have to weigh the short term abuse against the long term good.

But most of all, I like going places that most folks will never see first-hand, so I am a little jealous of our brother Farker for his adventure.  And having seen Best Korea from the DMZ, and followed their antics for years, I have to commend Confabulat on his courage for crossing into that police state.  Here's a wheelbarrow for your brass ones and congratulations on your safe return (that was not a forgone conclusion).
 
2014-01-07 12:58:50 PM  

SansNeural: But to the topic at hand, computer science teaching dude is a shiatbag for aiding, abetting and providing comfort to the enemy. Just my opinion.



Came to say this, only not quite so emphatically.
 
2014-01-07 01:10:16 PM  

dittybopper: Confabulat: And the cannibalism tales seem to be pretty overrated and more like folklore at this point, though it may have happened in the 90s or even now in rare occasions. But it's hardly something that happens on a daily basis.

Dear Sir, I am glad to hear that your experience in the DPRK didn't involve cannibalism. As a Farker I abhor the implication that Fark.com is a haven for cannibalism. It is well known that we have the problem relatively under control, and that it is 4chan who now suffer the largest casualties in this area. And what do you think the  netizens ate on Usenet? Sysadmins? Yours etc. Captain B.J. Smethwick in a white wine sauce with shallots, mushrooms and garlic.



[applause.gif]
Dah Dah-dah-dah Dah Dit-dah Dit-dah-dit-dit Dit-dah-dah Dit-dit Dah-dit
 
2014-01-07 02:44:08 PM  
you're a dirty commie sympathizer
 
2014-01-07 03:27:51 PM  

Odoriferous Queef: SansNeural: But to the topic at hand, computer science teaching dude is a shiatbag for aiding, abetting and providing comfort to the enemy. Just my opinion.


Came to say this, only not quite so emphatically.


Yep. They will militarize anything he taught them.
 
2014-01-07 03:38:49 PM  
Hopefully you created enough cover for yourself so you can now go back and be thought of as a teacher, rather than the international spy that you are; intent on hacking their networks, accessing and destroying all of their military intelligence and advances in nuclear technology, then finally assassinating their top 20 leaders (minus the uncle who just got offed last week).  Good luck.
 
2014-01-07 03:48:15 PM  

demaL-demaL-yeH: dittybopper: Confabulat: And the cannibalism tales seem to be pretty overrated and more like folklore at this point, though it may have happened in the 90s or even now in rare occasions. But it's hardly something that happens on a daily basis.

Dear Sir, I am glad to hear that your experience in the DPRK didn't involve cannibalism. As a Farker I abhor the implication that Fark.com is a haven for cannibalism. It is well known that we have the problem relatively under control, and that it is 4chan who now suffer the largest casualties in this area. And what do you think the  netizens ate on Usenet? Sysadmins? Yours etc. Captain B.J. Smethwick in a white wine sauce with shallots, mushrooms and garlic.


[applause.gif]
Dah Dah-dah-dah Dah Dit-dah Dit-dah-dit-dit Dit-dah-dah Dit-dit Dah-dit


Thanks, but take the superfluous t's off.  It should look like this:

Dah Dah-dah-dah Dah Di-dah Di-dah-di-dit Di-dah-dah Di-dit Dah-dit.

Only ends in a 't' if the 'dit' is the last element of a character.  Otherwise, it doesn't sound right.
 
2014-01-07 03:59:35 PM  

KarmicDisaster: Odoriferous Queef: SansNeural: But to the topic at hand, computer science teaching dude is a shiatbag for aiding, abetting and providing comfort to the enemy. Just my opinion.


Came to say this, only not quite so emphatically.

Yep. They will militarize anything he taught them.


He appears to have been teaching high school level courses and lower, judging from the photos.

cout << "Goodbye World!";

Insidious.
 
2014-01-07 04:02:27 PM  

dittybopper: demaL-demaL-yeH: dittybopper: Confabulat: And the cannibalism tales seem to be pretty overrated and more like folklore at this point, though it may have happened in the 90s or even now in rare occasions. But it's hardly something that happens on a daily basis.

Dear Sir, I am glad to hear that your experience in the DPRK didn't involve cannibalism. As a Farker I abhor the implication that Fark.com is a haven for cannibalism. It is well known that we have the problem relatively under control, and that it is 4chan who now suffer the largest casualties in this area. And what do you think the  netizens ate on Usenet? Sysadmins? Yours etc. Captain B.J. Smethwick in a white wine sauce with shallots, mushrooms and garlic.


[applause.gif]
Dah Dah-dah-dah Dah Dit-dah Dit-dah-dit-dit Dit-dah-dah Dit-dit Dah-dit

Thanks, but take the superfluous t's off.  It should look like this:

Dah Dah-dah-dah Dah Di-dah Di-dah-di-dit Di-dah-dah Di-dit Dah-dit.

Only ends in a 't' if the 'dit' is the last element of a character.  Otherwise, it doesn't sound right.


Didn't mean to confuse you: After all, I don't speak Best Korean.
 
2014-01-07 04:21:31 PM  
I'm just going to skip most of the posts in this thread and go with "Not cool."  Fark North Korea.  I know it sounds mean to the many innocent citizens of that country, but they can all starve for all I care,.  That country is farked up.

North Korea - Revolution, possibly Coup d'etat - sometime in the near future.  Maybe a few years, but the regime will not last.
 
2014-01-07 05:07:00 PM  

NewportBarGuy: Confabulat: Because it would be the most like visiting a sci-fi city I'm likely to experience in my lifetime.

You know they eat human beings there? Right?


Soyrent Gleen is preeple!
 
2014-01-07 06:57:11 PM  
img.fark.net

Our friend Tan.  My wife is the photographer.  Of the trip, she said "Glad I went.  Never want to go back."
 
2014-01-07 07:58:05 PM  

serial_crusher: KarmicDisaster: Odoriferous Queef: SansNeural: But to the topic at hand, computer science teaching dude is a shiatbag for aiding, abetting and providing comfort to the enemy. Just my opinion.


Came to say this, only not quite so emphatically.

Yep. They will militarize anything he taught them.

He appears to have been teaching high school level courses and lower, judging from the photos.

cout << "Goodbye World!";

Insidious.


Well, since NK has manditory military service for ALL males, and most females of at least 5 years or longer, every single one of those students will be in the military. In one article I read service length is 10 years. So this bozo is training them.
 
2014-01-07 10:57:48 PM  
As someone mentioned earlier in the thread about the Soviet Bloc, computers and how curiosity of their users helped to accelerate the decline of Communism in Europe hopefully that's the case here.  I also hope that by going over there and teaching their students he hopefully convinced some of those students that not all Americans are evil he contributed to international goodwill and to help improve America's image abroad.  Comparing him to Dennis Rodman is a bit much; Rodman does his thing for attention or whatever his rationale is and calling their leader "a friend" and not being willing to help get involved to release an American prisoner he shows that it's all about him and what he wants.
The other part of this is that if in the future North Korea's government collapses if their population is unable to join the modern world and international economy it's just going to continue to be a problem for the region and the rest of the world.
 
2014-01-08 12:19:35 AM  

KarmicDisaster: Well, since NK has manditory military service for ALL males, and most females of at least 5 years or longer, every single one of those students will be in the military. In one article I read service length is 10 years. So this bozo is training them.


So you're saying because CS/Database design has potential military applications what he's doing is wrong? Art appreciation and you'd be cool with it? English lit might be somewhere in the middle? He's not teaching combat tactics or hacking. He's teaching basic CS theory.

During even the cold war there were thousands of cultural exchanges with the US. Russian citizens visited the US and Americans visited Russia. There were even some student exchange programs. Heck we showed  Khrushchev how to grow corn on a farm in the midwest..The entire reason that NK has been able to remain so stuck in the dark ages is because there's almost no contact with the outside world. The best way to beat the regime is to show them that their propaganda is wrong and that nobody is out to get them and that's exactly what this guy is doing, even if it is limited based on how much they let him see.
 
2014-01-08 08:13:00 AM  
What's sad about North Korea is no one who has escaped has mentioned anything about some sort of resistance movement in the country. There's no rebel factions or anything. Either you conform or try to get the hell out, that's the only two options.
 
2014-01-08 11:02:02 AM  
I don't obsess over NK one way or the other, but after reading the thread, I have to agree with the people who are dissing this guy for going over there. He was doing nothing but helping the brightest of the elite build more weapons. So now he has a sweet exotic entry on his resume and he's bragging about it on the internet. Well, good for himmmmmmmm.

(nothing personal, subby.)
 
2014-01-08 12:51:47 PM  

cryinoutloud: I don't obsess over NK one way or the other, but after reading the thread, I have to agree with the people who are dissing this guy for going over there. He was doing nothing but helping the brightest of the elite build more weapons. So now he has a sweet exotic entry on his resume and he's bragging about it on the internet. Well, good for himmmmmmmm.

(nothing personal, subby.)


I hear, thanks to him, they're now just six months away from being able to make a GUI in Visual Basic to get IP addresses.
 
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