Perception is an invisible force, one that lives in our minds. But the effect of our perceptions are anything but invisible, since they determine what we think, say and how we act. In this way, this invisible force of perception has influenced the course of history. In the 18th Century, we believed that Africans were less than human, and we made them slaves and denied their human rights. Our perceptions were wrong, they were based on lies, and innocent people paid the price. In the 20th Century, we failed to respond to the plight of millions of people because international politics and the media defined North Korea by high politics, rather than the North Korean people. Our perception was determined by the political rhetoric of the Cold War, and has been that way ever since. North Korea is a regime arming with missiles and weapons of mass destruction. States like these and their terrorist allies constitute an Axis of Evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. If you live in North Korea the big news you would have learned today is you have a new first lady. Put it another way, Kim Jong-un is off the market. This perception has allowed the atrocities of the regime to go unnoticed. While we are talking about nuclear weapons and treating the Kim leadership as tabloid news, the North Korean people are starving, isolated, and denied fundamental human rights in a zero-tolerance system enforced by a network of political prison camps, reminiscent of the Nazi concentration camps. The regime aims to isolate its people by trying to control all information going into and out of the country, and punishes anyone who attempts to learn about the outside world. This is not history. These are the incredible challenges that the North Korean people face today. But the world has neglected this, instead allowing politics to define North Korea. In order to survive, the North Korean people have created illegal markets to provide themselves and others with food and goods that the government can no longer supply. These markets have undermined the power of the regime and are also serving as hubs for the spread of new information and technologies like DVDs and cell phones which are modernizing and opening up North Korean society from below. Together, these people-driven events are spreading new ideas and creating new pressures for change, challenging the regime’s ability to keep the people isolated. Shift is happening in North Korea. This is what we should be talking about. This is what the media should be reporting on and this is what politicians should be focused on. Why? Because more attention on the nuclear weapons stalemate or the North Korean regime is not going to lead to solutions. Shifting the way the public thinks about North Korea allows for far more progress to be made. The North Korean people can be supported, we can help empower their efforts to push for change and increasing freedoms, and their stories can be told wide and far until North Korea is defined by its people. If we, in the outside world, shift our focus from the high politics to the people, and come alongside them in their struggle, then liberty in North Korea will not be impossible. It will be inevitable.