Yes, it’s all karaoke and an amazingly commerce-free tourist experience in North Korea.
The LA Times – which was last caught fellating the brutal fascist dictatorship of North Korea in March of 2005 – hits its knees again today.
Pyongyang, North Korea â€” THERE’S not a lot to do when you’re a closely watched visitor in North Korea except hit the karaoke at day’s end, so we’re at it again.
From the sound of it, most North Korean karaoke falls into two categories. Soupy ballads about national glory, superior leadership, glorious workers. And hard-driving martial tunes urging citizens to think as one and pick up a bayonet. Rounding out the experience are video clips of goose-stepping soldiers and ozone-piercing missiles.
“It’s amazing to see streets without any commerce in Asia,” says Peter Tasker, a Tokyo-based private investor on the magical mystery tour. “It’s not always what you see that’s striking, but what you don’t see.”
The throwback nature of the entire experience is part of the attraction for many visitors. In a world of look-alike malls and identical Starbucks from Rome to Redondo Beach, there’s a refreshing lack of sameness about it, if you don’t stop to think about the suffering, hunger and deprivation underpinning the system.
One noticeable change from a visit in 2005 is the government’s apparent effort to skim more hard currency from foreign tourists. Most museums and monuments now offer souvenir shops, and a foreigners-only department store in Pyongyang has been expanded.
The problem is, there’s still hardly anything worth buying. A typical stand might feature books on the teachings of Kim Il Sung, some green and pink embroidery of dancing children, bottles of the local firewater known as soju, cans of peas and boxes of hemorrhage restorative herbal medicine. At one point while buying some apples, I try bargaining – de rigueur in most of Asia – to gauge the reaction, an affront that draws looks of shock and embarrassment.
Look that side reference to suffering, etc. – that’s called ‘throat-clearing’.
What’s amazing about North Korea is that you can get a vacation from the ‘world of look-alike malls and identical Starbucks from Rome to Redondo Beach‘ and enjoy the ‘refreshing lack of sameness about it‘
And the good news is that if you share the local’s diet, you’ll lose that unsightly tummy as well…
I’m dying to know what the editorial thought process behind these two articles really was. Maybe I’ll ping Kevin Roderick and ask.