A new global happiness index is getting some attention, and not just because it gives China a perfect 100. The big eyebrow-raiser is North Korea's No. 2 ranking, followed by Cuba, Iran, and Venezuela. South Korea rings in at No. 152, and dead last is the "American Empire." This "tragically hilarious" survey was, of course, apparently compiled by North Korean researchers, but do you laugh at the Tragic Kingdom listing itself as nearly "the happiest place on earth," or do you cry? The commentariat settles for dark humor:
Who did they poll here?
This "groundbreaking" and "completely objective" survey "presumably excluded the hundreds of thousands of people estimated to live in North Korea's horrific prison camps," says Ryan Tate in Gawker.
Yes, "consider the source"
"Famine and repression apparently didn't hurt North Korea's standing in the eyes of the 'researchers,'" either, says Mark Memmott in NPR News. But what do you expect from "a country where the leader has been referred to as 'the son of God'...."
And the methodology
"Note, starvation was heavily weighed as a positive," tweets Tom Brown.
We're No. 2!?
The saddest thing about this stab at propaganda is that Pyongyang put itself in second place, behind China, says Dan Amira in New York. Man, "North Korea can't win even in its own fantasies."
I'll buy the fantasy, and volunteer for the hardship
"Please send me to the U.S. so I can suffer too," says a commenter at the online Chinese forum Mop, via MSNBC.
Misery is somewhat relative
Of course this "study is completely bulls**t," says Gawker commenter Shaun T. Kennedy. But it might have a grain of truth. After all, who's happier, a perpetually starving North Korean capriciously allowed "TWO loaves of bread," or a once-prosperous American "now barely hanging onto your home, watching your car break down, being regretfully thankful you don't have to drive it too far since you have no job and wondering how you won't be living under a bridge this time next year"?
All countries do this, to some extent
North Korea's survey is particularly laughable, but generally "there is something wonderful about government issued statistics on subjective issues like happiness," tweets Ann Hollingshead.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- Why China thinks it could defeat the U.S. in battle
- The secret to handling pressure like astronauts, Navy SEALs, and samurai
- How Ferguson made conservatives lose faith in the police
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- How the West produces jihadi tourists
- Girls on Film: 5 things that need to happen before Hollywood will ever truly change
- What you need to know before you support the police in Ferguson
- What the 'death of the library' means for the future of books
Subscribe to the Week