Mount Alvernia High School, Newton, Massachusetts

Dennis  Lehane

Jacqueline  Flaherty 

The Hidden Truth Behind North Korea’s Mass Demonstrations

Corruption and Violence in Dennis Lehane’s Boston

In the second half of the twentieth century, North Koreans used mass demonstrations as a way to show their loyalty and obedience to their leader. These demonstrations happened because of Korea’s long and horrific history and Kim Jong Un’s totalitarian ways. North Korean leaders had a strong sense of nationalism and used propaganda to gain control. Mass demonstrations in North Korea included large numbers of people who put on extravagant performances for both domestic and foreign audiences to demonstrate strength and military power. The Korean totalitarian leaders aimed to create a strong sense of nationalism through the mass demonstrations, using singing and drama to depict a glorious past. Some demonstrations depicted revolutionary themes and Korea’s long fight for independence. It took years of experience and months to practice each new performance. Unfortunately, the beautiful mass performances were based on the abuse of children that started from a very young age. The citizens of North Korea led very restricted lives, with extreme demands forced upon them. At the same time, propaganda isolated the citizens and kept them unaware of the outside world. This isolation prevented North Koreans from living fulfilling lives in freedom.

In contrast to the controlling societies of North Korea, the city of Boston as depicted in Dennis Lehane’s novels is rife with corruption and violence. His crime novels subvert traditional definitions of justice by depicting even those characters seeking the “right” thing to do as susceptible to flawed moral reasoning, which results in resolutions that are neither happy nor truly just. Righteousness plays a major role in Lehane’s novels because even the characters that achieve justice at the end are still not satisfied with the outcome. In Mystic River, the protagonist Jimmy finds out about the murder of his daughter and the suspect is one of his childhood friends, Dave, who was a victim of sexual abuse as a child. Mystic River ends with Jimmy’s attempt to right the wrong by killing Dave, only to discover the actual killers were scared teenagers and Dave was innocent, thereby demonstrating the inescapably corrupting influence of the city of Boston.

Major Works Consulted:

Albright, Madeleine. Memo to the President Elect. New York: Harper Collins, 2008.
Fisher, Max, “Behind the spectacle, the ugly truth about North Korea’s ‘mass games.’”
The Washington Post. (26 Jan. 2014).
Lehane, Dennis. Gone Baby Gone. New York: Harper Collins, 1998.
---. Mystic River. New York: Harper Collins, 2001.
Photo Credit: Curry, Jennifer. World Authors: 2000-2005. New York: H.W. Wilson Company, 2007.