Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Inside North Korea

By Libby

Long time reader Lester has made it a mission to keep me informed on the latest right wing publications and often drops the odd link into comments. I don't have a lot to say about this one, except that it's a fascinating travelogue on North Korea by Peter Hitchens. It's longish, but here's one graf to tempt to you click in.

You can gaze on the gargantuan housing estates, made up of scores of apartment blocks, a great festival of concrete outdoing even Soviet Moscow in its gigantism. You may admire the Juche Tower, which symbolizes North Korea’s supposed self-reliance. The tower is a column three feet taller than the Washington Monument, weirdly topped by a great simulated red flame, like a much larger version of the World War I Memorial in Kansas City, but only when there is enough power to keep it aglow. That is not always. Voltage is a problem in Pyongyang. The streetlamps are never switched on, and there is a strange interval between sundown and total darkness, before the lights start to come on in the windows of all the apartments. There is also a wonderful quiet, since Pyongyang has hardly any motor traffic by day and even less at night. Human voices can be heard from astonishing distances, as if you were in a tranquil lakeside resort rather than in the center of a grandiose metropolis. The electric current in homes and offices seems suspiciously feeble and shuts down abruptly when the government thinks bedtime has arrived. The authorities also have views on when you ought to wake up. A siren rouses the sluggards at 7 each morning, though light sleepers will already have been alerted to the approach of the working day by ghostly plinking, plonking music drifting from loudspeakers at 5 and 6 o’clock. The sensation of living in an enormous institution, part boarding school, part concentration camp, is greatly enhanced by the sound of these mass alarms.

Much more like that at the link.

Hitchens came away from his trip inside the forbidden territory thinking that we should pity North Korea more than fear it. He doubts that the boasts of nuclear capability are credible. As compellingly as he makes his case, I'm not sure I share that view. It seems just as likely to me that they could be pouring all their resources into such a program at the expense of their own people but either way, it's well worth reading for the inside glimpse of the last relic of pure "Marxism-Leninism" left on the planet.

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5 Comments:

Anonymous lester said...

"If you are very lucky and honored, you may penetrate the Kumsusan Memorial Palace. This was the home of the Great Leader when he was ordinarily alive, kept going in his later years by a special diet of extra-long dog penises."

4:57:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

LOL Lester. That was the best line in the whole piece. Peter is a much better writer than his brother I think.

Thanks for the link. It was a good one.

6:36:00 PM  
Anonymous lester said...

It's amazing that they have even a tiny amount of tourism there. who the hell would want to spend their vacation being shuttled to different cement structures by a minder and anything possibly interesting is forbidden?

3:25:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

I had no idea they allowed tourism either.

7:23:00 PM  
Anonymous lester said...

it's great to get out and explore and see the local color. except yuo aren't allowed to explore and the locals have no color except gray

10:05:00 AM  

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