Saturday, August 19, 2006

North Korea: The Orwellian Paradise

Following are excerpts of the travelogue of a young American, “The Savvy Traveler”, who traveled to North Korea:

The North Korean capital Pyongyang is a city of monuments; statues to Kim Il-Sung (the country’s founder) and various revolutionary ideals abound. There is not much vehicular traffic, as few North Koreans can afford bicycles, let alone cars. There really isn’t much need for cars anyway, since travel between cities is forbidden without a permit.

Juche is the Korean philosophy of self-reliance. It is an important part of the ideology of control developed by Kim Il-Sung. To give you an idea of the personality cult in the DPRK, just before the guides took us there we went to a flower exhibition. The Koreans renamed two common flowers to the Kim Il-Sungia and the Kim Jong-Ilia. How's that for Big Brother?

We glimpsed a military parade in the center of town, with thousands of flag-waiving North Koreans lining the streets to greet their soldiers, who will defend them from the American invasion that the regime constantly talks warns of. Defining the United States as a powerful and common enemy is one of the many levers of control the regime uses to unite the people and maintain its ironclad grip on power.

The North Koreans seem to have a flair for dramatic monuments, and so built themselves their own Arc de Triomphe. Theirs is actually a little taller than the one in Paris. Nearby the Arc was an amusement park, which was the only place the group was able to mix fairly freely with regular North Korean citizens. North Korean children played the same types of games American kids do, only they shoot at U.S. Marines instead of rabbits and clowns.

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