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Are China & North Korea happier than America?

Courtesy Chaoxian.com.cn

An alleged "Global Happiness Index" put out by North Korean television ranked the Chinese as the happiest people in the world. They were followed by North Korea, Cuba, Iran and Venezuela respectfully. The United States came in last.

BEIJING – "Are you happy?" is a question that many in China have been asking themselves with increasing frequency in recent years. This week North Korea emphatically answered that question for them: “Yes, yes, you are.”

A report floating around China’s websphere alleges that North Korea’s Chosun Central Television recently released a global happiness index compiled by North Korean researchers. Perhaps not surprisingly, it found China the happiest place in the world, with a perfect score of 100 points. Just two points behind, in second place, was North Korea; Cuba came in third with a rating of 93.

It has been difficult to find the full list online in Chinese media (usually a good source for North Korean news).
But the screen grab to the right from a Chinese website, Chaoxian, shows the supposed line-up. North Korea’s rival, South Korea, didn't fair too well, it scored just 18 points to come in at 152. And the “American Empire” was dead last in the rankings at number 203 with a measly two points.

Iran and Venezuela were the only other nations whose listing were shown by Chaoxian, coming in fourth and fifth respectively.

Criteria for the index ratings were not available nor was the source of the story immediately identifiable.

The results have been widely discussed in the Chinese websphere, drawing a great deal of amusement, skepticism and sarcasm. 

On Mop, a popular Chinese online forum, one comment noted that the “North Koreans learned their technique of bluffing from the Chinese." While another jokingly pleaded, “Please send me to the U.S. so I can suffer too."

For China, the results come at a time when national happiness has become a contentious issue. Municipal governments on the mainland have begun measuring the happiness of their people and nearly a dozen national polls have been conducted recently. 

The need to quantify and to demonstrate increasing happiness in China has become a contentious issue among China-watchers as they debate whether the numbers are meant to further illustrate the ruling Communist Party’s continued efforts to nurture a “harmonious society” or whether these happiness studies will eventually be used to prop up the government when the country’s long anticipated economic slowdown comes.

Regardless of their intentions, the question of personal happiness is one that has struck a chord with many Chinese who have quickly moved up the social and economic ladder through higher paying jobs and increased educational opportunities.

For this week, though, China can smile and know that through at least one measure, they are the happiest people in the world.

Certainly happier, at least, than the estimated 19,000 young North Korean university graduates who earlier this week volunteered in the name of the proletarian paradise to work “laborious jobs in different economic sectors in the DPRK.”

Hat tip to Shanghaiist for the link.