Saturday, June 09, 2007

Believe It or Not - Current Trends in North Korea

Believe It or Not

While going through the news articles that were related to North Korea I actually found this rather surprising article about the "Trends of North Korea - Eye Plastic Surgery, Dica (shortened version for Digial Camera by Koreans), MP3 Players"

The article started saying that 南男北女 (character reads South-Male, North-Female) meaning that men are better off as well as wealthier/smarter in the South and women from the North are pretty or sort of like that. Anyhow, what came across quite surprisingly and shockingly to me was that there are many in North Korea who would get plastic surgery - mostly for their eyes, which costs 0.7 Euro or $0.94 US which would be just a little less than the monthly earning for the average North Korean. Some even have surgery on their nose which is considerably more expensive than the eyes.

The article then goes on to talk about how the article’s author was quite surprised to find workers at the gift shop were busy listening to their MP3 players - when asked by the author the 'worker' replied by asking, "why are you so surprised?" and that he had "downloaded" the famous OST for soaps, 'Love and Hate' from his computer. Also, he also said that "I use a smaller and slimmer version of the Canon Digital Camera than the one you've got on your neck" and goes on to say that "I bought a MP3 player for my son, 3 years ago".

The author, presumably a reporter, at the end said that words such as "hair conditioner" are very different in the South and North so an average South Korean wouldn't have a clue if a North Korean asked for it; however words such as "Dica" and "MP3" were easily converted.

Am I the only one who is surprised by this article’s contents? I mean surely North Korea too has evolved and developed over the years but we all know about their economic hardships, their problems with the BDA account and what seems like another million problems.

Since we all know how much North Koreans have to "act" to represent their "not-so-ordinary-daily lives" for foreigners from the book, the digital cameras and MP3 players I can understand but when it comes to plastic surgery for their eyes, I've seen few North Korean girls interviewed by the South Korean media when they come to cheer at the ASIAN Games or other sports related events - not surprisingly they've been very pretty (we all know that they are the best looking girls picked from the country) so I didn't really pay attention about their faces to see if they were fixed by plastic surgery or not.

It seems the more I hear, read and learn about North Korea the more confused I become - how far do they go to lie about their "real lives" just to look good for the rest of the world? Are they for real? Is what we learn about their economic burden not as severe as we've learned?

Click Here for the article


Ally said...

Is that figure correct??? On average, North Koreans earn around US $1 per month??

Tom Fales said...

It may well be correct, although that figure is at the low end of the spectrum relative to other estimates I've read about here. According to the post titled, "Help the Average Person? Unlikely: North Korea signals goal of raising living standards" of June 3, North Korean wages could be as "much" as $6/mo (the highest estimate I've seen).

I trust that the present dear leader will tackle this injustice as soon as he finishes his photographic homage to The Matrix.