Sunday, June 03, 2007

Driving the streets of post-Stalinist Pyongyang is just like time travel

This article is from a British News paper, Telegraph. While the article is a little over a year old, the points that it raises are very interesting. The journalist who wrote this article drank Heineken while he was there, something that 99% of the population can not afford. He also says that citizens were skeptical in talking to him because it is illegal to have conversations with foreigners. He also says that the "teenage girls dressed in green military uniforms practising synchronised goose-stepping on parade grounds are a perfect snapshot of 1960s China". Also, the streets close down at night because the government is incapable of leaving the lights on all night because they do not have the money or capacity to maintain this.

These are just a few examples of the everyday occurrences that happen in North Korea. I can not imagine what it would be like to like in a society like this. Would I like it in my blind ignorance and find it to be a serene environment? or would I question the existence and the extremely unfair division of elite and poor? One woman is quoted as saying "Why do the Americans hate us so much?" Is this the case, I don't think so but what if that is all you ever knew? What would it be like?

1 comment:

Tom Fales said...

I clicked on the "Picture Gallery" link on the story's website. It chronicles a British reporter's journey in North Korea where he posed as a businessman. Did anyone else read the second caption?

"During the tour [the reporter]and his party met senior trade ministers, visited factories, and had talks with diplomats and North Korean businessmen. They also played a round of golf at Pyongyang Golf Club, the course where Kim Jong-il is reputed to have scored 11 hole in ones on his first round of golf."

I wonder if North Korean communist dictators are related to Bill Brasky of SNL fame. What a ridiculous claim to make.

The fifth caption, however, particularly struck me:

"Pyongyang is "serene and tidy", Mr Simpson says,...Because there is almost no manufacturing, the air is clear and clean."

I'm reminded of an essay I once read titled "The Anti Industrial Revolution." It included a fictional depiction of a modern couple living in a world devoid of most technologies we often take for granted today. A passage eerily similar to the aforequoted caption concludes the story. I believe it went something like: Above the roof of the house under which the couple now sleeps the air is a pure as the driven snow, only both wonder how much longer they care to breathe it.