Friday, October 21, 2005

North Korea -- Dan Schorr via Rocketboom


No, not that Dan Schorr. I don't know anything about this one because I just found him via Rocketboom's piece from yesterday. He's been to North Korea and left with beautiful photos and videos. The videos are what caught my attention. (I just hate waiting the time it takes to download videos in exchange for a few moments of content. Dang! That makes me want to buy stuff so I don't have to wait. But that's waiting for the mail...I guess a little delayed gratification is in order...)

Anyway, this is what made me want to post about this blog.

Two hours after boarding our flight, we landed in Beijing and exited onto the terminal. China is no free country, but I felt extremely liberated - Iwas at that moment more aware of my liberties than at any other time in my life. I could walk around. I could talk with people. I could explore, travel, telephone people, check the internet (albeit with some blocked sites). It felt incredible.
Imagine that. After being in North Korea he felt liberated to be in China!
This may be part of the reason.

After two days in North Korea the restrictiveness and relentless propaganda was getting to me a little. I had expected that our trip would be that way, but it was another thing to actually experience two days in which we always had to ask permission before walking anywhere or taking a photograph and couldn't interact with anyone other than those introduced to us. We were always in a confined area, beyond which we were not to venture.

Beyond that, the intensity of the DPRK's message was nonstop - images of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jung-il seemingly everywhere and militaristic/patriotic music playing in many locations. Korean phrases displayed with huge letters around Pyongyang seemed to almost always end with an exclamation mark. It's not a nation of subtety.

Virtually everything, virtually everywhere, had something to do with these two men. We were even told that there was recently a huge festival in Pyongyang that featured two flowers named - ready for this? - the kimjungilia and the kimilsungia. Really.

I'd never seen or experienced anything like it. It was tiresome. It was frustrating. It was also incredibly fascinating.

If you don't have time to study the blog, at least be sure to catch one of the stunning videos.

And, uh, yes...I did post in red on purpose.
It seemed appropriate.

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