Friday, September 08, 2006

US tourist in North Korea

Here’s an excerpt from a BBC article written by Carol Rueckert, a young American who visited Pyongyang. While there are terrible facets to North Korea, it is also important to differentiate and understand the huiman factor, the North Korean people themselves:

The first thing our English-speaking tour guide did was introduce us to the North Koreans on our bus - including a cameraman "who will be observing all of your behaviors."

Before we set off, we were forewarned that the tour guides might tease us for being "American imperialists," but that they would eventually warm up to us.

To be honest, I was surprised with how friendly and warm-hearted they were. They had their photos taken with us, told stories about their lives, answered our questions - some to more of an honest degree than others - sang songs and had a few beers with us in the evenings.

If we offered the children candy, they would happily accept it.

Though North Korea has been labelled the Axis of Evil, the people there didn't fit the stereotype - in fact they shared many of the same values as we hold; concern for family, politeness and courtesy.

When we were looking across the border to South Korea at the DMZ (demilitarized zone) in Panmunjom, one of the first things a guard there said to us was that North Koreans typically don't have warm sentiments towards Americans.

But we got the feeling, as he continued to talk to us - holding a box of American-made Marlboro cigarettes in his hand - that it was possible for people to separate the US government with the American people.

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