Is more than just a relic from the Cold War. In some ways North Korea is the perfect antipode of Western civilization: a country which remained in a stone age, where all things are state controlled, where all colors do lack, with a dictator we all like to laugh about. The website Kim Il Jong – father of present day leader … – looking at things was a hilarious get together for global hipsters. Laughing here.
Thus, North Korea is a country which by its’ Otherness is a fascinating country for most of us living in the global North. Actually we don’t know anything about the country, so even the tiniest glimpse of the country is news. As was last week’s news when a bus driving some Western tourists around Pyongyang got lost. All we got to see were pictures confirming our prejudices on the sloppiness.
Because most of us have never been in Northern Korea we have no clue how such guided tours are supposed to look like, nor what we might see when travelling around. Roel Dalhuisen got bored with that idea and just went. Photos here.
But on an artistic level some stuff happens around North Korea. Recently the book “the Orphan’s Master Son” by Adam Johnson was published. It is a thriller and a love story and shows us parts of North Korean society we never could imagine. With sentences as these “so pure, she didn’t know what starving people looked like”, the tone is set. A must read, critics say. If you like your North Korea a little less painful, the graphic novel “A Journey in North Korea” by Guy Delisle is your start. Check the trailer here and via this link you get to hear what Guy Delisle didn’t draw in his book.
The book to start reading now though isn’t merely an introduction to North Korea, but a saddening and depressing inside look into the Gulags of the country. “Escape From Camp 14″ tells the story of one man’s incarceration and personal awakening in North Korea’s highest-security prison, says the Wall Street Journal. On the site of the author himself calls for an United Nations investigation into the Gulag are published. How those are supposed to take place will be explained by the author during a visit to the Netherlands next week. At the 27th fo April he will be a special guest at Spui 25, the academic centre in Amsterdam. For reservations see here.