I got the shivers from this one..... That one guy in the white shirt... 1984?
I got the shivers from this one..... That one guy in the white shirt... 1984?
Wow, the picture with the statue is about the worst offense you could think of. It might even have gotten his guides in serious trouble if the wrong person had noticed him taking such a picture, as they are being held responsible for everything you as a tourist do. Of course about every tourist is taking tons of pictures of things they officially aren't allowed to take pictures of, but some things you just really shouldn't do. When the leaders are concerned, there's simply no room at all for disrespect of any kind.
Nevertheless some amazing shots.
I think it was a National Geographic documentary; a team traveled to North Korea with an eye surgeon from Nepal or India. It seems cataracts are a major problem in North Korea. The group was allowed - with guides - to visit various sites and take photographs. To get the large statue within the frame, a photographer laid on the ground. The guide got upset and began to scold him, at one point telling him he would have to leave the country.
I think I've seen that documentary a few years ago, weren't most people cured by The Great Leader rather than a surgeon?
But indeed, although they usually gladly let you take pictures of those statues, it's always very serious business. Apart from taking funny pictures, you're not allowed to leave parts of the statue out of the picture, so forget about making a close-up of just the face. But it also depends on the guides, mostly on how much they trust the group. During my first two visits, it was no problem at all to take a picture from the distance, with some other monuments covering up part of the statue. And it was also OK to take a picture from behind the statue, as long as you managed to cram the whole thing in the picture. The last time I went, last April a few days after they unveiled the statue of Kim Jong-Il and the renewed statue of Kim Il-Sung, the rules where much more strict. And if they only had the slightest clue that you broke the rules, they demanded to see the pictures and would delete any "disrespectful" picture.
Like I said, you don't really have to follow the rules all the time, as long as you act respectful, there's some flexibility. But when they explicitly tell you not to do some thing, you simply have to play it by the rules. They might indeed throw you out of the country. But if you went that far, assume the worst for the guides. They will at least lose their jobs (and as a result their access to hard currency), maybe even the privilege to live in Pyongyang. But far worse things might happen to them. That's what you always have to keep in mind when visiting the country.
Why work at humiliating North Koreans? The authorities in Pyongyang have that covered.
Luxury lifestyle for North Korean winners, losers may fear fate
By Peter Rutherford
LONDON, July 31 - It's still only Day Four at the London Olympics but one early surprise is that North Korea are fifth in the medals table, a performance that will bring good news to the pariah state - and not a little relief for the athletes themselves.
The country's three gold and one bronze medals will spread a bit of joy to a people who have seen little of that lately - the North is currently battling floods that have killed scores of people and turned tens of thousands out of their homes.
The reality is that life is tough in North Korea in the best of times, however.
International sanctions over its nuclear weapons program, a decaying economy and a defective food distribution system have left almost a third of its 24 million people poor and hungry and it has few friends besides its neighbor China.
The gold medalists are hoping their feats will cover the country in glory and please its people and one man in particular - new leader Kim Jong-un, who only recently took over as head of the family dynasty on the death of his father Kim Jong-il.
"As an athlete I believe by winning the gold medal I was able to glorify my nation and give support to the people of my nation, so I am really happy," judoka An Kum-ae told reporters in London after winning gold.
"I believe I gave some happiness and joy to our leader, Kim Jong-un," she said fervently.
The North's official KCNA news agency reported that her family "burst into cheers and tears" watching her on television.
"She owes her success to the great leaders, the benevolent social system and the Workers' Party of Korea," said her father An Jong-ryon. "All my neighbors are calling at my house to offer congratulations to my family."
Kim Un-kuk, who set a weightlifting world record on the way to winning gold on Monday, said he was anxious for news of his triumph to reach Pyongyang.
For good reason: a life of luxury awaits the Olympians as reward for glorifying the Stalinist state. Elite athletes receive cash, cars, houses and the coveted membership of the Workers Party of Korea.
FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION
The consequences of sporting failure are far less palatable.
The coach of the national soccer team, who lost all three of their 2010 World Cup games, was reportedly expelled from the Worker's Party and forced to become a builder for his "betrayal".
A South Korean newspaper quoted an intelligence source as saying those who performed badly were even sent to prison camps, though that has been disputed by North Korean athletes.
North Korean defector Lee Chang-soo told Reuters in March that the difference between winning and losing an international competition could even be a matter of life and death.
A bronze medal winner at the 1989 World Judo Championships, Lee's life was turned upside down when he lost to a South Korean in the final of the 1990 Beijing Asian Games.
South and North Korea fought a fratricidal war in 1950-53 and the two countries remain technically at war since the conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.
Defeated North Koreans -- especially those who lose to South Koreans -- were forced to work in "gulags" where rights group Amnesty International says 200,000 citizens are forced to work with little food under threat of execution, he said.
Lee was sent to a coal mine for his failure.
Information is hard to come by in the almost hermetically sealed and suspicious state, but North Korea watchers point to signs that Kim Jong-un could be cut from a different cloth than his father and grandfather before him, founder Kim Il-sung.
He has shown a more human side, appearing with his wife on television and presenting a significantly less dour image. A source with ties to North Korea and China told Reuters he is gearing up to experiment with economic reforms.
Whether the changes will make a difference for North Korea's returning athletes is anybody's guess, however.
(Additional reporting by Park Ju-min in Seoul; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)
© Thomson Reuters 2011.
Soccer: U.S. women forget politics, beat North Korea
By Estelle Sharon | Reuters
MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - The U.S. women's soccer team beat North Korea on Tuesday against a backdrop of hostility between the global superpower and the isolated Asian dictatorship but U.S. fans and players said the Olympic spirit transcended politics.
One American player said the teams played ping-pong together at their hotel ahead of the match, conjuring scenes from the 1970s when so-called "ping-pong diplomacy" marked a thaw in U.S.-Chinese relations.
"We were in the same hotel as them and the girls were great... We played ping-pong and stuff like that," Shannon Boxx told Reuters after the match, which the Americans won 1-0 thanks to a 25th minute goal from striker Abby Wambach.
The United States and North Korea have had fraught relations since the 1950-1953 Korean War, when the Americans fought alongside the capitalist South against the Communist North, which was backed by the Soviet Union and China.
The hostility is a live issue in world diplomacy.
North Korea was branded part of a so-called "axis of evil" by former U.S. President George W. Bush, and Washington is intent on frustrating the North's nuclear armaments plans while Pyongyang is seemingly impervious to external pressure.
But the American soccer players said they had put politics out of their minds.
"The beautiful part about what we're doing and it being the Olympics is we don't have to worry about that," Wambach told Reuters after coming off the pitch.
"This is where we can put our differences aside, go out on the pitch and play for glory and that's what we're here for."
The North Koreans' feelings were harder to gauge.
The players left the stadium without talking to journalists and coach Sin Ui Gun responded cautiously to questions, speaking through an interpreter.
"We are all thinking that against USA we shouldn't lose, we should win," said Sin. Pressed by a reporter on whether it was more disappointing to lose against the United States than against other teams, the coach nodded gravely but said nothing.
Sin wore a red badge on his lapel emblazoned with portraits of Kim Il-sung, the founder of North Korea who is still revered as its eternal president, and his son Kim Jong-il, who succeeded Kim and cultivated a cult of his own personality.
The match took place at Old Trafford, home of Premier League club Manchester United, where thousands of curious Britons and enthusiastic Americans piled into the stands.
A Reuters reporter was unable to ascertain whether there were any North Korean spectators present at all. If there were, it could only have been a tiny number who could not be heard.
Three women wearing matching dark blue tracksuits sat together in the stands and one of them was holding a North Korean flag. Asked whether they spoke English, the women shook their heads and a security guard immediately appeared and asked the reporter to leave. It remained unclear who the women were.
In contrast to last week, when the same North Korea team walked off the pitch before a match because giant screens accidentally displayed the flag of their South Korean foes, Tuesday's match got off to a smooth start.
The American players smiled at supporters as they walked out onto the pitch, while the North Korean players looked straight ahead and did not smile. When the players shook hands just before kickoff, some of the Americans attempted smiles and eye-contact with their opponents, who remained stony-faced.
At the end of the match, the American players lingered on the pitch and linked hands to do a collective "worm dance" for the fans. After perfunctory handshakes, the North Koreans jogged off the pitch in a straight line.
The north of England was the scene of North Korea's greatest sporting triumph abroad, during the 1966 World Cup, when the men's soccer team knocked out favorites Italy in one of the greatest upsets ever. But history was not repeated on Tuesday as the Americans, the defending Olympic champions, dominated.
It would be difficult to imagine a sporting contest between two more different nations.
On the one hand, a global economic powerhouse whose cultural influence can be felt across the globe, a society hooked on 24-hour media and the Internet, a land of plenty where the number one threat to public health is the high obesity rate.
On the other, an impenetrable fortress run by a dynasty of dictators, cut off from the rest of the planet by barbed wire and strict controls over any form of communication, an economic disaster zone where millions go short of food.
During the match, mass chants of "USA! USA!" repeatedly boomed around the stadium. At one point, a group of British fans apparently in the mood to annoy the Americans shouted "Korea! Korea!" but there was no other audible cheering for the Asians.
Some of the Americans in the stands were keen to show respect to their opponents.
"The Olympics is about sportsmanship and athletics, it's not about politics," said Oliver Spandow, from Florida, who was cheering for the Americans with his wife and three children. The whole family had the Stars and Stripes painted on their faces.
"It's important to show good sportsmanship, that's what we've told the kids. The North Korean players have worked hard to be here just like our team and they deserve to be here," said Kristin Spandow, Oliver's wife.
Some U.S. fans, however, said the match did have political overtones because of who their team were playing.
"It definitely adds a little bit of extra drama to this match, like in the Cold War when the Americans would play the Russians," said Californian Christina Gustafson, sporting a shirt and strings of beads in patriotic red, white and blue.
North Korea is an impressive fifth in the Olympics medals table so far, drawing enthusiastic coverage from the official news agency, KCNA.
"DPRK People Seized with Joy over Successes in Olympiad," said one headline on Tuesday. The DPRK is the acronym of the North's full name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
"As the DPRK flag was hoisting higher than others, I got so excited that I could hardly repress my tears rolling down my cheek," said Jong In-ho, a teacher at Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang, according to KCNA.
(Additional reporting by Ju-min Park in Seoul; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall and Ken Ferris)
North Korea's Kim tells China, economy a priority
Thu, Aug 2 2012
BEIJING (Reuters) - North Korea's new young leader, Kim Jong-un, told a Chinese official that his government is focused on "developing the economy and improving people's livelihoods," China's official news agency reported late on Thursday.
Kim's comments to the visiting Chinese official, Wang Jiarui, were the latest sign that the new young leader aims to tackle North Korea's decaying economy, which has been poorly managed under the military-first government system.
This is in contrast to Kim's late father who was focused on military tensions and allowed the military to play a key role in running North Korea, which is now struggling with chronic poverty, isolation and damaging floods that could deepen hunger.
"Developing the economy and improving livelihoods, so that the Korean people lead happy and civilized lives, is the goal the Korean Workers' Party is struggling towards," Kim told Wang, the head of the Chinese Communist Party's International Department, Beijing's key interlocutor with the North.
Kim's comments in a meeting in Pyongyang broke no new policy ground, but analysts and diplomatic sources in China and South Korea expect Kim to probably embark on an economic reform package soon.
China's long-standing view of North Korea as a traditional ally and important bulwark against undue U.S. influence has been a little clouded recently by uncertainties about the young Kim's intentions, as well as a brief quarrel over North Korea's detention of Chinese fishermen.
But Kim appeared keen to allay those concerns, and he cited the wishes of his late father, Kim Jong-il, whom he succeeded as dynastic leader of the one-party state last December.
"It is the unswerving will of the North Korean (ruling) party and government to continue Comrade Kim Jong-il's teachings of constantly deepening the traditional friendship between North Korea and China across the generations," Kim told Wang, according to the Xinhua news agency.
Kim has yet to visit Beijing. His late father was a frequent visitor to China in his later years.
Kim, in his late twenties, has sought to impose his own stamp on the top leadership of North Korea, and recently ousted Vice Marshal Ri Yong-ho, the country's leading military figure, who was seen as close to Kim Jong-il.
Kim Jong-un was also named marshal of the army in a move that cemented his power. He already heads the Workers' Party of Korea and is First Chairman of the National Defence Commission.
He is gearing up to experiment with agricultural and economic reforms after purging Ri Yong-ho for opposing change, a source with ties to both Pyongyang and Beijing told Reuters.
Experts in Beijing say their government fears that economic malaise in North Korea could give way to damaging instability and torrents of refugees across the border in China, and for decades Chinese leaders have nudged Pyongyang to draw lessons from their route to market economic reform.
But so far, Pyongyang has resisted any dramatic changes in its traditional top-down management of the economy.
China has also hosted now moribund six-way talks seeking to coax North Korea into abandoning its nuclear weapons program. Xinhua reported that Kim said he was committed to "peace and stability" on the Korean peninsula, but did not mention those talks.
(Reporting by Chris Buckley; Editing by Michael Perry)
© Thomson Reuters 2011. All rights reserved. Users may download and print extracts of content from this website for their own personal and non-commercial use only. Republication or redistribution of Thomson Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Reuters. Thomson Reuters and its logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of the Thomson Reuters group of companies around the world.
Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests.
This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To order presentation-ready copies for distribution to colleagues, clients or customers, use the Reprints tool at the top of any article or visit: www.reutersreprints.com.
Kim Jong Il's grandson has given an interview. Must see for N. Korea followers. This is Part 1 of 2:
(sorry I am an ignoramus with youtube links)
Last edited by hbcat; October 19th, 2012 at 11:08 AM. Reason: Fixed link; grammar, clarity
Thanks for fixing the link. I also revised the post.
Han Sol(o) seems like a nice kid. Through no fault of his own, he's been born into the weirdest royal family on the planet. Also not his fault, and one hopes that his education and intelligence will help with this, is the utter impossibility of the super elite to experience mundane life like the rest of us. He has taken deliberate steps to look for heterodoxical points of view, and he still seems incredibly cloistered and cut off. Like I say, not his fault.
He has the best name in the family. That's something.