You will have probably heard this before. This is what plays in Pyongyang, North Korea, every day at 6AM, as a wake-up call for the people there. The manipulation others are subjected to is often obvious to us. Now if you’re naive, you’ll look it up and say “oh yes this is the song Where Are You, Dear General? written by Kim Jong Il, but they have to play it through their old speakers so it sounds distorted and creepy”.
And if you can truly believe that, you will have an easy life, but you’ll also be the sort of guy who reported his neighbors in march 2020 for leaving their home twice a day. I can’t really express the degree to which this sound horrifies me. It’s something you would expect from a dystopian Swedish art house movie. I’ve also seen people describe it as “the end credit song of an 80’s movie after the lead character died”.
But what it is, is demoralization. It’s supposed to break the spirits of the people who have to hear it. The fact that you can find some song by the Pochonbo electronic ensemble that vaguely sounds like this is of course just an excuse. It’s a dominance signal. They’re going to play the most bleak depressing surreal track every day at 6 AM, you have to hear it and there’s nothing you can do about it. It induces a state of learned helplessness.
But it leads me to ask myself: What do we get? What’s the dominance signal we receive? What’s shoved down our throats? I think you can figure out the answer. To start with, you have to consider that waking up to this sound goes contrary to every human instinct. It abhors you at a very fundamental spiritual level.
And yet, if you were to ask the people in Pyongyang, they would never dare to say to you that they hate it. They probably don’t even realize they hate it. They experience it as some sort of test of their moral character and so of course they’ll claim to love it.
They tell themselves they love waking up like this. And when they experience a sense of irritation by it, when they wish they could have had just five more minutes of sleep before waking up to this, perhaps because they had a pleasant dream, they will feel guilt. That’s part of its purpose: It’s supposed to be a burden you carry, that you never dare to acknowledge to yourself, let alone to anyone else.
So what is pushed on you through your environment, that abhors you and droves of other people like you, at a deep fundamental spiritual level? What do you feel guilty for finding abhorrent? What creeps you out? What can you just never get used to? What seems to serve no clear purpose, other than as a kind of cement that binds the various elements of society loyal to the regime together? What does your government shove down your throat, that makes you feel utterly powerless and humiliated?