The Guardian's Paul Watson is right - North Korea is misunderstood
A year ago I applied for a visa to visit North Korea and watch her athletes prepare for the 2012 London Olympics. I learned that my application had been successful while walking my dog through Regents Park. A man in a sombrero stuck a needle in me, covered my head in a pillow case, threw me in the back of a truck and drove me to the airport. Ten hours later I was in the sunny Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. And nothing says “howdy stranger” like being kept in a rat infested cell for two weeks. Finally convinced that I’m not the agent for a superpower (I am, after all, British) they drove me to the athletes' training camp. It’s located in the foothills of the beautiful Mount Baekdu, where the North Koreans believe that Kim Jong-Un gave birth to himself.
Kim’s team usually only excels in traditional North Koreans sports, the kind of things that children still play on the streets of Pyongyang today – games like Run For Your Life, Stay Under Water Very Long, and Aim For The Heart. But no one can deny that the DPRK is undergoing a significant change, reflected in the fact that this year the republic is entering heats for both dressage and etching.
Since taking power, Kim has shifted authority from the army to the party, retired some old colonels, appeared in public much more often than his father and even shown off his wife to the international press. The more liberal atmosphere is reflected in how the athletes train. In the bad old days, the “stick” method was preferred. This involved Kim chasing the 100 yard sprinter along the track with a big stick. Today’s modern communist uses the “carrot” method. That involves Kim standing at the finishing line holding out a carrot for the first man who reaches it to eat. Of course, being a man with a healthy sense of humour, Kim sometimes eats the carrot himself. My guide told me that this is proof that he has the “common touch.”
Finally I was introduced to Kim. His grandfather was known as Great Leader and his father as Dear Leader, but Kim prefers to travel under the title Amiable Leader. His summer lodgings are a modest Tudor home comprising 12 bedrooms, 4 living rooms, 2 swimming pools and a shark tank. It’s here that many of North Korea’s greatest art treasures are stored, including video tapes of all 139 episodes of MacGyver.
After the traditional North Korean greeting of a cavity search we sat down for a traditional lunch of caviar, champagne and a lot of cake. “Amiable Leader,” I said, “can you tell me what message you expect your team will bring to the world?” “Get us the Hell out of here!” laughed Kim. “No, seriously, I’m only kidding you, Tim. The message they will deliver is, ‘Don’t believe all the American propaganda.’ North Korea is ‘A-O-K’ – as MacGyver would say.”
“But what about all the rumours of famine?” I asked. He replied: “All nonsense, dude! Last week, I opened a new theme park in Pyonyang called Super Fun Amazing World of Colourful Horses. If everyone was starving in North Korea, would we be building roller coasters everywhere?”
“And what about the stories of torture, lack of civil rights, lack of freedom of speech?” I said. Kim chuckled, “Look, buddy, this is a free country and people are free to say whatever they like about how awful America is. But it works both ways. You’ve gotta respect people’s right to pull out finger nails.”
“Finally, Amiable Leader, would you like to pass comment on your host for the Olympics, Great Britain?” “Hey, I might be a mass murdering dictator, but at least I didn’t vote Liberal Democrat – am I right!?” He gave me a high-five. “But seriously, someone who impresses me very much is Boris Johnson. It seems like that dude can do anything and no one cares. If Boris Johnson tested a nuclear missile in Bermondsey, people would be all like, ‘O, that’s just Boris. He’s just having a laugh.’ I could learn a lot from that guy.”
It was getting dark and that’s when North Koreans traditionally come out to forage for food. So I said goodbye to the Amiable Leader and headed for home. My impressions of the Democratic People’s Republic? From the view I got, it’s a tolerant, progressive nation that absolutely deserves to be invited to the Olympic Games and to hold a seat at the United Nations. Any attempt to criticise it is obviously an act of capitalist propaganda.
Time to realise the difference between regime and "starving masses"
Shack37...there's a big difference between what's happening in NK and what happened years ago in Biafra and Ethiopia. The present incumbent FLUF will be no different than the previous FLUFs, except maybe make a few cosmetic changes to pacify the free countries. Communism can only begin to fall when it starts rotting from within. If China wants to keep propping it up to prevent its decay then it should take the full responsibility of feeding the NK masses.
The UN and its sycophant do-gooders can still go to buggery. I don't see its General Assembly putting pressure on China to get positive changes in NK.
And since there is nothing official from the US that says what you said, it's a lie as the US NEVER stopped food aid over that.
Which is exactly what I said.
At no point did I say the US stopped food aid so where did I lie? My comment quoted above by you referred to the interpretation I put on the opening post as being critical of the NK government and was in direct reply to a post by Loose rivets. (who put it much better than I had)
An example of ambiguous reading on your part perhaps?
Con Pilot I think you're being uncharacteristically sensitive about IV's post. Not everything is about US bashing. I read the post more as criticising the NK government as a US bashing exercise.
Precisely, Shack 37. And anybody who believes there are "pubs" in North Korea is seriously out of their depth. The bars in the Koryo or the Yang Gak Do are about as close as you can get to a watering hole.
Good to see that there is always ample money left in North Korea for essentials, such as a Christian Dior handbag for first lady Ri Sol-Ju, who was shown with this new acquisition in pictures published in the South Korean press yesterday.
Unless it's a fake, she's spent around $1,500 on it - or lots of bags of rice. A bit like what the bitch married to Mugabe does with that country's (little) money.
Last edited by Victor Inox; 10th Aug 2012 at 06:05.