It has been rumoured that Michael Gove, the Minister for Education, is looking to follow the lead of Far Eastern nations to lengthen the school day and cut down on the amount of holiday we give our students in the UK.  As an English teacher currently living in South Korea, I happen to have a front row seat to judge just how effective longer school days are and their advantages and disadvantages.

I have heard arguments on both ends of the spectrum from within the UK, from people that say that this is an essential change that needs to be made in order to be more competitive on the world stage and not to let Britain be overtaken by the Far Eatsern nations; and from those who say that longer days with less holiday will overly stress our students, take away from their life experience and stifle creativity.  Both views seem a tad extreme to me and I think the answer lies somewhere in the middle of the two poles.

Overall, I am inclined to agree with Michael Gove that longer school days are needed, but I would not cut down the amount of holiday, especially the valuable 6 week summer holiday in the UK.  I believe the proposed idea has secondary school students possibly staying in school until 6pm, and I think this is entirely reasonable.  However, a longer time spent in school means that the government and the schools themselves have a greater responsibility on what they are teaching and how they are teaching and I have never been entirely convinced that the British education system is actually going in the right direction in this department.

You see, there is no doubt that spending more time at study does improve the level of knowledge you have, it is not simply about quality all the time.  In South Korea, the quality of teaching I have witnessed is poor; it is overly didactic, boring, and completely devoid of any interaction whatsoever between teachers and students in the classroom.  Lessons are a series of lectures with students simply listening and watching (and often sleeping).  Students, however, spend all day studying.  At the High school I am currently working at, students come to school at about 8am and leave at around 10.30pm.  Children who are at middle and elementary schools often have things no easier because when their school day finishes at about 4pm they then go to a number of after school private academies, in which English, Maths, and Science are the most popular.  These young students can spend up to 4 or 5 hours a night at these places after their school day and most give homework on top of this.  I have always wondered how Korean students keep up.  Because of all of this, though, their educational level is extremely high, much better than what I witnessed as a science teacher in the UK.

Korean students would love to finish their school day at 6pm and I think they could cope quite easily with this.  It is simply nonsense to suggest that students in the UK would be over-burdened with stress because their day is longer.  This sounds terrible for all the students of the UK, but it need not be.  I have always wondered what on earth the point of homework ever was, why can’t students get all their work done at school?  The extra 2 or 3 hours in the day could be used for this homework.  Most of the evening in Korean high schools is spent doing ‘self-study’, and it is in this time when homework should be done.  Homework at home is a waste of time for the majority of students because most just do it quickly and badly so they can go out and play with friends, watch TV or play computer games.  There are too many distractions at home for worthwhile study.  Have students do homework at school and they should have more focus, but they should also have much greater access to resources to enable them to complete their homework well; they will have access to computers, books, other school resources, and maybe most importantly of all, teacher’s guidance.

Perhaps more important than over-stressing students is not over-working teachers.  Extra time for students at school should not mean more lessons for teachers, as I said the extra couple of hours should be free-study or self-study for students.  This would also encourage them to work independently and take responsibility for their own education, something I think would be extremely valuable.

However, there must be a word of caution for longer school days.  If the students are going to spend more time in school it becomes astronomically important that they are productive while they are there, otherwise we are infringing on their freedoms for very little positive gain.  I am completely with those who are suspicious about education worldwide generally.  Those that say we teach students in an uncreative way, teaching them only to be obedient and pass tests.  Inspiration is also being lost in the overly-inflexible curriculums and the day to day bureacracy that teachers have to go through and this is especially true in my experience teaching in England.  One of the saddest things is that school trips appear to be almost completely lost these days due to worries about anything unfortunate happening to the students and claims being made against school and teachers.  Schools still often go to museums but nature trips or outdoor excursions to areas of natural beauty are very rare indeed and it is precisely these that would be most valuable, especially for an increasingly urbanised population and a planet with growing and troubling environmental issues.  I have also mused about – in a globalised world – whether there could be some agreement between world governments to have regular exchanges of students between schools in other countries.  I am unsure about how it would all be organised but I am palpably sure about the value of travel and cultural exchange with other cultures to the education of the young.  Perhaps even internet classes with students from other countries if travel is too difficult?  It is an avenue that may be worth pursuing.

In short, schools need to radically change the way they teach and be interesting and inpirational.  Students need to be fascinated, and it is possible to do this, but not with all the restrictions the exam-based education system currently has.  If one country in the world could take a punt and really go for it in this regard, I am sure they would show the way for everyone else to follow.

When it comes to lack of inspiration and excitement for learning, the Far East certainly tops the league tables on this point as commandingly as anything else.  A longer school day is the only possible aspect about the Korean education system worth copying, possibly along with higher expectations of students, everything else should be completely ignored.  Booksmarts and passing tests Koreans may be good at, but happy, efficient, and creative they are not.  Many of them are a sad, depressed and oppressed bunch and there is a significant problem of student suicides in the country.  If you only focus on their academic achievement in tests then everything looks rosy; if you focus on any other measure of achievement, creativity or well-being things don’t look quite so good.  Korean students lives are dominated by their teachers and parents in a race to the best universities and the best jobs and many suffer through their childhood only to fall short, to feel like failures and to feel like they have let their families down also.  This is not a situation worth imitating.

It, of course, need not be this way in the UK.  Keep the school holidays, end the stupidity of homework and students staying at school until 6pm will not significantly take away any of their current freedoms.  Make sure we teach quality and the Western high regard for individuality and creativity will trump the Far Eastern values of hard-work and conformity.  The problem at the moment with Western schools and students is that we have all forgotten what hard work truly is and have the lowest of the low expectations of young people just so we can tell them how well they are doing all the time.  Children are stronger that we think, they can take a bit of graft and criticism, however, children are undoubtedly weaker than they think in the Far East; their spirit can be broken and the Korean education system achieves this nicely.  It is time we all learned from each other and found the reasonable middle-ground.

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Just what is Britain’s problem with Europe? To me it seems like it is down to two main factors: 1) the British mentality, and 2) immigration.

Britain is an island nation whose people naturally value their individuality separate from any land borders. It even looks like we can’t keep our own country together, let alone stay joined with Europe. Scotland may soon become independent, we have had many historical problems with Northern Ireland, and the Welsh too have murmurings of a separate parliament.

My own personal instincts are in favour of a split with Europe so we can govern our own affairs and I think this instinct is shared by many British people. Being an island is one part of it, Britain has had a history of invasions through history from all directions so a culture of bloody-mindedness and suspicion to foreign rule may be embedded rather deep. Britain yearns to be alone, to fight, to show its character and spirit, in short the bulldog breed. An American friend of mine once told me that Britain needs a martial art; America has wrestling, Japan has Karate, Korea has Taekwondo, France has Savate, China has Kung Fu, etc. In truth though Britain has never needed one, our way has always been strength of will and a fierce pride of queen and country. All our nation knows is that, historically, when we fought (which was a great deal) we won.

This pride is also a major factor. The fact is that Britain was once great – we didn’t call ourselves ‘Great Britain’ for nothing. We were the most powerful nation on earth and had the biggest empire in history. We did this alone and fought off everyone else, including our closest neighbours. Since the end of the British Empire, Britain has been sliding down the list of economic world powers and becoming less influential on the world stage. This hurts us, and we still have a very strong urge to ‘punch above our weight.’ Many see a coalition with Europe as a way of reducing our influence, not only on the world, but on our own affairs too.

Perhaps you note a tinge of pride even in my own writing? I can assure you that you wouldn’t be wrong, part of me longs for the good old days and for my country to show its greatness once again, I want to us to stand alone independent and strong and not give a damn what Europe or the United States wants or says. Who the hell are they to tell us what to do, we are British!

I know, however, that these feelings will not serve Britain well in the modern world and I must fight the overwhelming urge in me…. well, to fight.

Power is not really something one should be aspiring to anyway, but even if that is what the British people want, they won’t get it by being a noble loner. These days, power and wealth are not built by military might but by trade and commerce, and in this respect, it really does help if we are part of Europe.

This is why politicians in the main political parties in the UK really don’t want to give the people of a referendum on the European question. They know full well that the effect on the country economically of leaving the EU would not be a profitable one, yet at the same time they also know that it might just be that the British public would vote us out. This is the quandary that is currently vexing the Conservative party. How do they garner public opinion and still stay in Europe? How about promise referendums for the future but never actually hold them? The rise of the UK Independence Party has forced them to put the issue of Europe on top of their list of priorities.

Another matter that is helping push the already primed for independence British public further away from Europe is the topic of immigration.

Britain has, for a long time, been a country filled with immigrants and I think has had a traditionally welcoming attitude towards them, with a few exceptions of course, but of all places Britain has always been one of the best at receiving people from other countries. As long as we have had control, the British have never had a problem incorporating the people and the ways of other cultures and this shows with the amount of people who want to come and live in the UK. The problem is that this has, of course, encouraged further immigration. Although I dream of a world without borders, the fact is that people need an national identity and in the real world of high unemployment (especially in working class professions), flooding the country with so many from overseas is causing much resentment. It is now fueling a kind of unhealthy nationalism in Britain, and our famed tolerance of others living in our country is starting to wear thin.  Actually, many are using immigrants as a scapegoat explanation for the lack of jobs, but the issue of national identity is becoming a very real one.  An example of this is the population of London, which is now only 47% White British.

There has been unprecedented immigration in recent years and this would be fine if the people coming to Great Britain were integrating into society but they are not.  There are certain things that the government and society does that inflame the situation and make further boundaries between people of diverse cultures.  In government, they promote faith schools, which segregate young people based on their religion dividing society as well as often indoctrinating students in religious nonense such as intelligent design or Biblical or Koranic creation myths as truths.  In society and government there seems to be an attitude present that gives almost any kind of bad behaviour imaginable a free pass as long as it has a cultural or religious reason behind it.  Why else would the justice system be so inept at prosecuting such crimes as female genital mutilation, forced marriage, and polygamy – it is in fact against the law to have more than one wife in the UK, but not if you happen to be a Muslim.  Having one rule for some and a different rule for others is a disaster waiting to happen and divides the country into actual geographical cultural mini states and moral and ideological ones too.

The only way for such mass immigration to even begin to work is for all those who come to the country to accept Britain’s laws and for the British to enforce their laws on those who wish to live in the UK.  This is not being harsh, it would actually help those of different ethnic and cultural groups integrate successfully into British society instead of feeling on the fringe of it.  Until this starts to happen, much of the British public will have feelings of acrimony against so many immigrants coming into the country and will favour an anti-european stand-point.  Failure to deal with these issues regarding immigration will simply make anti-european sentiment grow in the UK and rightly so.

There are some matters of process, moral and logical factors to being anti-european as well, though.  The fact that many of those sitting in the Eurpean parliament are unelected also makes me slightly uncomfortable about how much influence they have on all the countries inside the European Union.  The general direction of the EU in recent times appears to be somewhat restrictive of freedom, it appears to want to control too much.  Surely there must be a way for us to all benefit from better and easier trade and business dealings, without giving up so much of our own country’s liberties and personal character.  For David Cameron’s pledge to negotiate a better deal in Europe I do have some praise, but I won’t hold my breath for too much success.

For me, one of the greatest issues of our times in the West is responsibility.  I would call myself a liberal in most respects but a symptom of becoming overly liberal is to provide too many excuses for others and indeed yourself.  Britain becoming independent of Europe is something that I believe would forced more responsibility on the country as a whole.  The country’s economic and social problems are not all down to being in the European Union and maybe if we did get this monkey off our backs the people would stop and hold the people within our own country responsible.  It might also be worth a change of direction in British thought from one of desiring power and recognition to favouring happiness and well-being of it’s people.  In this respect one only need look at Switzerland and Norway, who are not in the EU, and are thriving despite this and happen to be highly desirable places to live with enviable levels of public well-being.

In economic terms, perhaps a split with Europe would not be best for the country but there is more to life than money and in almost every other aspect coming out of Europe appears a good idea.  However, the economy seems to be the main focus in this day and age, both of the government and of the people, so whatever way Britain goes the best direction is almost too difficult to call.

Last week I posted my first article on this blog in an attempt to link in material on my sister site.  I wrote about a North Korean defector’s experience of admiration for some of the policies of the UK in regard to social services and welfare, but in this weeks post I shall delve into the issue of freedom; something we all know is fiendishly difficult to come by in the one party, idol worshiping state of North Korea but what I feel is also being slightly trampled upon in my own fair country, although obviously to nowhere near the same degree.

The last time I came back to England from South Korea about 3 years ago, I was looking forward to gaining some freedom again after having to conform to many social pressures, work practices, and life with my Korean in-laws in South Korea.  In Korea I often felt like I did not have a voice in a number of situations and it was good to be able to speak out again back in England.  What I did find, however, is that I slowly began to realise that there were many aspects of living in England that were a good deal less free than living in South Korea.

Freedom of Speech

The Levenson Inquiry about behaviour of the press was probably sorely needed after the scandalous journalism of newspapers like the News of the World, but as a result some slightly troubling conclusions have been made by the government about the best way to proceed, including some things that Lord Levenson never even recommended (watch).  All the political parties signed up to the Royal Charter on regulating the press and it seems those on the internet too, it states that regulation also applies to:

“A website containing new-related material (whether or not related to a newspaper or magazine)”

News related material is defined as:

“Opinion related to the news or current affairs; or gossip about celebrities, other public figures, or persons in the news”

As the Newsnight program that I pulled this from states, this definition is very broad indeed and more than a little worrying if you are a journalist or even just a simple blogger.  There are some exemptions in discussion in a bill to be passed on this matter, but they aren’t enough to make many feel comfortable about the future possible censorship of the free press and indeed the free individual.

Note: There has just been some information about an update to this issue, excluding bloggers from potential censure, see here.

The fact is though, that even before this there had been some issues regarding the prosecution of people on social media for distasteful remarks on certain issues.

Last year Paul Chambers was convicted for jokingly tweeting that he would blow up and airport.  Sounds bad, I know, but not when you read his tweet and understand the context.  Frustrated at not being able to see his girlfriend because Robin Hood airport in South Yorkshire was closed, he tweeted:

“Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You’ve got a week and a bit to get your shit together otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!!”

A bit stupid maybe, but worth a prosecution!

Another social media case came up in 2012, this time involving explicitly nasty facebook comments about a missing girl named April Jones and also about Madeline McCann.  Matthew Woods, 19, from Lancashire posted on facebook while drunk, which included the following (sourced from the Guardian newspaper):

 “Who in their right mind would abduct a ginger kid?”

“I woke up this morning in the back of a transit van with two beautiful little girls, I found April in a hopeless place.”

“Could have just started the greatest Facebook argument EVER. April fools, who wants Maddie? I love April Jones.”

He also posted comments of a sexually explicit nature.  Now, obviously, most decent people are appauled by such comments and unfortunately there are such people out there who will make incredibly bad taste jokes and share them with their friends, but the the way to deal with this is social ridicule and alienation.  His friends on facebook should have sorted this one out and the government should have had no dealings in the matter at all, instead he was jailed for 12 weeks.

Finally, when footballer Fabrice Muamba collapsed on the pitch last year with a heart condition and his condition was critical, most of the Uk and the footballing world were wishing him well.  All except Liam Stacey, 21, who tweeted:

“LOL” [“laugh out loud”]

He then posted racist and offensive comments back at people who criticised him.  He was subsequently given a 56-day jail term.

If freedom of speech doesn’t include the right to offend, we all have no freedom at all.  It is a dangerous prescedent to set to jail people for bad taste jokes or comments because desensitising the public to this may make it easier to jail people for supposed offences against a consensus opinion that may very well be wrong or at least cause a discussion that could lead to progress.  Fortunately, after a speight of convictions for social media ‘offences’ it appears as though the government are starting to back-peddle on this idea of prosecuting bad taste, or at least this is what they are saying.  I will wait for the next moron with keyboard in hand commenting on a delicate subject to see if this is true.

Liberal Bigotry and Freedom of Speech

I will write about this in further detail in a future post, but the term ‘Liberal Bigotry’ is something that I first heard Peter Hitchens use on BBC’s Question Time, and although I didn’t agree with him on the point he used it for, I do agree that it exists.

The UK is a multi-cultural country, and contrary to what many people think, being able to criticise aspects of other cultures ways of doing things and free discussion about it is extremely important in helping us all get along smoothly.    If there is no dialogue, prejudices and grievances will erupt in an array of social problems, and that is what is happening at the moment.

Criticise an element of someone’s culture and there will be someone accusing you of bigotry or racism in order to silence the argument.  This is Liberal bigotry.  I noticed two examples of it recently both coming from the Guardian newspaper, one about the new atheists and the other rather bizarrely claiming that making fun of Kim Jong Un was a form of racism.  This form of non-argument and political correctness gone crazy is putting a limit on free speech by demonising those who have – sometimes very valid – opinions on controversial topics.  The controversial subjects are always those worth hearing a range of opinions on, the country is denying itself the freedom to discuss honestly the situations that matter the most.

Being Watched

We all know CCTV being everywhere is big news but what has always bugged me about the UK is the TV license.  I explained this to an American friend of mine the other day, along with the fact that people go around in vans picking up on signals from your TV to detect who has paid their license and who hasn’t, and he thought it was plain weird.  The TV license is another way of monitoring the population, on top of CCTV, big data, and the convictions of people on social media as I mentioned.

Social Pressures

When you live in South Korea, you come to realise that there are some quite obvious social constraints on people all stemming from Confucian traditions.  People are compelled to act in a certain way towards each other out of a sense of duty and things like respecting older people – who may not be deserving of it – always frustrated me.  People put themselves in chains when conforming to society.  The regime in North Korea have mastered this and the entire population in North Korea do the regime’s work for them in monitoring the behaviour of others.  Without this, an organised rebellion would be possible.

In the UK, however, we have no such limitations on expressions of thoughts, feelings, and expression within society do we?  Well, I think we do.  It is not so much a tradition but a social system that has become very heavily reliant on being ‘cool’ and popular.  This is present in many societies but I feel the social pressure from it quite strongly in the UK.  The culture of heavy weekend drinking his very reliant on deeds of drunkeness to promote people socially.  Being a drunken fool is a sure way to become popular amongst peers in the UK at the moment, and this appears to transcend social classes as well with even the highly educated and well-off getting in on the act.  If you don’t participate in this tomfoolery you can face social ostracism.

In other areas, such as fashion, interests, and general tastes British people pile on the pressure for others to conform to what is perceived as ‘cool’.  The country as a whole even (cringingly) sometimes calls itself ‘Cool Britannia’ as being trendy is seen as being highly important, even for the image of the country, we had better not let the country down after all.

The Expense of Living and Travelling

The expense of simply running a household is becoming a real burden on many English people, and in the name of freedom of choice, energy bills are being pushed up and people have to search around for the best deal.  These deals are often pushed upon you by door to door salespeople who assure you that you are paying too much at the moment and you’d be better off changing providers.  Making the process as opaque as possible for the customer many people are being ripped-off.

The cost of living is forcing people to stay home in their free-time and the cost of petrol and public transport means that most people cannot afford to use their free time to get out and about.  I have always personally loved Scotland but to get there the only way is to fly, buses and trains are just too expensive and again you have to run the gauntlet of being smart, early bookings, and being lucky to get a reasonable fare.  There is none of that nonsense in Korea, you show up at the station and you buy a ticket, done.  It happens to be very affordable too in a country full of mountains – awkward and expensive for building railways because of the amount of tunnels and bridges that have to be built – and the trains are on time and quicker.  The illusion of choice, the expense and the bad service in the UK all reduce the feeling of freedom.

In this two-part post, it is fairly obvious that really the UK is not comparable to the crazy Orwellian world of North Korea, but with regard to policies, and most importantly freedom, there are some worrying issues that should give British people cause to reflect on the direction the country is taking.  I have also been brief and many of the issues I raise I will go into further detail in future posts.  I wanted to give an overview of some worrying problems with freedom in the UK.  The fact that I live in a country at the moment that is right next door to one of the most oppressive regimes in history – and South Korea shares many of the same characteristics in lack of freedom, at least in social attitudes – but I feel almost less free in many ways in the UK, is something that troubles me deeply and I wonder if most British people realise just how much has gradually been taken away from them.  It is time to fight to get it back.

For my first post on this site I thought I’d relate a little back to my sister blog, ‘South Korea Inside Out’, although I guess it is only partly related as this is about North Korea.  Strangely, this is one of only a few articles I have ever written about North Korea (they have all been very recently) because I try to steer clear of the subject, saturated by press stories as it already is.  Press coverage abounds of this weird little country and it is also very difficult to know exactly what is going on or get into the minds of the people, so one can only speculate.  We all know what it is supposed to be like of course and defectors tend to confirm our suspicions.  Defectors like Seung-chul, a former doctor in North Korea who defected back in 2003, eventually ended up in the UK.  In this Huffington Post article, he likens Britain to North Korea, but beofre us Brits should be too worried all his comparisons were gracious compliments rather than anything negative.  From his perspective Britain has taken some of the good parts of the communist mindset and applied it rather well.   The purpose of this post and in the following parts, however, is to voice concerns over some of the other ways Britain is related to North Korea.  In fact, North Korea is nothing like Britain as regards to welfare but there are aspects that the North Koreans might aspire to.

In the story, published back in 2012, Seung-chul comments:

“Schools are free, medical care is free, the hospital system is the same. I feel the UK fits the description of what NK officials think of as a perfect communist state.”

Firstly, I am not going to knock any of these, they could all be called socialist policies, but so what?  I believe universally free education and healthcare is a good thing.  I will even go a step further and say that the privatisation of many of our industries has resulted in some very poor services, I am thinking of the railways in particular.  So in effect I would favour at least a part re-nationalising in some areas.  If there is one thing I do worry about with some of Britain’s socialist policies, however, it is the way they have slowly but surely created a cultural attitude among many of a general lack of personal responsibility.

In the post-war election of 1945, Winston Churchill’s government were surprisingly ousted from power by the Labour Party.  With its history of socialist tendencies it was therefore at this time that the National Health Service was born, industries were nationalised, and a welfare state was born – although there were leanings in this direction in the Liberal reforms of 1906-1914.  I am concerned with what the welfare state has done to the attitude of the British public over the last century and I believe it causes a great deal of problems in the current era.

As I said, I would be in favour of free schools and free hospitals but there is a down-side to them and that is that people can take them for granted and abuse the privilege of not being required to pay for them (other than through their taxes of course).  This is the great problem of the NHS.  Just to take one example, go to a casualty ward of almost any hospital in Britain on a Friday and Saturday night and you will realise just how much time and money is wasted on treating people who are the perpetrators of binge drinking.  For another example, look at the total NHS spend on treating obesity related illnesses.  These conditions are mostly not genetic, they can be prevented by the individual and yet the country as a whole pays for it, which seems a little unfair to those who act more responsibly health-wise.  I will go into this in further detail in a future post, but here I am merely highlighting the disadvantage of such a system.

So a system of universal healthcare can possibly encourage people to be less responsible with their health, but if there is one thing I am quite sure about it is that an overly generous benefits system can persuade people to be less individually responsible for how they provide for themselves and their families.  What policies such as this have created, is a growing under-class of people who don’t want to work and sponge of the state and this also contributes significantly to the UK ‘s astronomical amount of debt, second only to Japan in terms of percentage of GDP.

The debt, however great a concern this maybe, is not something that I am going to dwell on but I will say this; if I do have any sympathy for the current Conservative government it is that the country is burdened with significant debt and what else can the government do except cut spending creating austerity?  Encouraging growth can create a means to pay off the debt but this requires expenditure and what happens if the government go this way and no growth or negligible growth is created?  More debt, and in the current economic climate this is surely a massive risk to take, there is no guarantee that more spending will create significant enough growth.

There is a lot of anti-government sentiment going on in the UK at the moment, from the outside looking in – and currently a very comfortable existence in Korea, not in the thick of things (struggling to make a living wise at least) – it appears that the government are being blamed for everything and they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t.  Cut benefits and they are abandoning the vulnerable, don’t cut benefits and they are continuing to supply scroungers and not really tackling the country’s debt problems.

However, it is my view that many British people need to take a look in the mirror and ask themselves a few important questions before they resort to the easy answer of blaming the government for everything:  Am I or have I been living beyond my means?  Am I really trying to find a job and working hard?  Am I really taking care of my health?  Should I really be so reliant on the state for hand-outs?  Do I really need such a large house or car?  Is it really responsible of me to have a family when I have no means of supporting it myself?  Do I really require the help of the government?

The welfare state was developed, I am sure, under the best of intentions and that is to make sure people of all backgrounds are treated fairly and those that are unfortunate are well taken care of by everyone.  This is a noble philosophy, but it can only go so far because when the safety net becomes reliance it brings everybody down and traps them inside, and I think this is what has happened in Britain.  Socialism and Communism have the ideal of collective fairness at the very heart of their teachings, so it is in a way no surprise that British people are encouraged to this way of thinking and how a North Korean defector can notice some similarities with his own country.  Reliance can quickly turn into a lack of freedom, however, and this is the subject I am going to explore in part 2 of the similarities between the UK and North Korea.