Here’s a good news story from the very home of good news stories: North Korea. The hermit kingdom has oiled the hinges of neurosis and paranoia and opened the gates to increased tourism. This is mostly for South Koreans but is potentially available to anyone. Just a short trot across the most heavily fortified quarter mile on the planet and, assuming you are someone who can walk with your eyes forward, refrain from photo taking, suppress any corrupt idea you might have about eating anything other than tree bark, and generally shut the hell up, you’re in the beautiful backyard of the raving mad Dear Leader.
Are they serious? Well, there are certain appealing aspects. The sun drenched gulags; the long contemplative strolls across the mine fields; the soothing sounds of 24/7 single channel propaganda TV network. These are all good things. And for those looking to come back from their break with a brand new figure to show off to their friends? Hard to beat the slow and agonizingly painful enjoyment of acute malnutrition. Seriously, with every bowl of gruel another kilo is shed.
Anyway, all this stuff is in the brochure. But beyond the hunger and the beatings and intetrnet restrictions and the big hats on the generals (now, I have not launched a formal study on this but it seems to me that the insanity of repressive regimes is directly proportial to the size of the hats. N Korea – big hats. Stalinist Russia – big hats. Idi Amin’s Uganda – big hats. The Village People – big hats. Haven’t worked out quite where the sombrero fits in yet….) there is the general ambience that only a terrified population and architecture that by-passed baroque and went straight to beige box gives a city.
But before you go thinking that this might not be a family location, wait. Got a daughter? If there’s one thing Kim Jong-Il likes, its virgins. He likes cognac too. And big hats. But mainly it’s the virgins. Get thinking about this people; every day you delay is another day that daughter of yours is closer to being sullied
OK – i hear you. It’s easy to pick on these guys. There is one thing that the North do that is worthy of note, and something is generally unmissable. It’s the all-in dance offs. They are as good as it gets and are a rebuke to anyone who believes that pointing a rifle at someone and saying dance doesn’t work in this day and age. Gen Y, take note! Enjoy….