Mike Deri Smith contrasts himself to the giants of the journalistic past:
As idealistic young journalists, Ernest Hemingway, George Orwell, and William T. Vollmann each wanted to fix something: World War I, the Spanish Civil War, and the Soviet war in Afghanistan, respectively. As an idealistic young person, at a similarly nascent stage in my journalism career, I’d like to think I understand their drive. But I can’t say I’m idealistic enough to fight or die for the freedom of North Korea, if that option were available to me. The old idealists fought in the mountains; I scroll over North Korean mountains on Google Maps. They suffered on the front line; I read a little of the news from North Korea before going to a restaurant and gorging myself on beef ribs to the point of severe stomach pain.
But he nevertheless makes the case for his own cause of ending North Korea's gulag camps:
Concentration camps are a reality in the 21st century. Their existence in North Korea is an incontestable fact proven by hundreds of satellite images and the testimony of thousands who have escaped. A former camp guard and a defector who once worked within North Korea’s National Security Agency have suggested that approximately 200,000 people are currently in the camps. That's a number equal to the population of Tallahassee, Fla.
In North Korea’s concentration camps, there is no judicial system or right to appeal. Starvation-level rations kill thousands. Prisoners work 12-hour days, seven days a week, with time off only for national holidays. Forced abortions are carried out on pregnant women repatriated from China. Their young infants are often killed. Guards torture, murder, and rape. Almost every act classified as a crime against humanity is being carried out by the North Korean regime. This method of punishment has remained unchanged for more than 40 years. North Korea will eventually collapse. The horrors of the North Korean gulag will continue until that day.
(Image: From a series of Google Earth shots chronicling the death camps of North Korea)