15-08-13 © 2013 . All rights reserved.

15 Aug ’13

In our world you greet your friends and family, here in North Korea you greet the Great Leader. Yes, even as a tourist, you have to pay respect to the two former leaders of the DPRK. By bowing in front of their statue for example, on a pleasantly warm later afternoon, just after landing in this country. Kim Il Sung and sun Kim Jong Il are standing in full, bronze figure on the look-out over their city and country. One is wearing a suit, the other one a parka. If it weren’t from these different outfits, you would almost not know or see the difference between the two men. The looks are the same, so is the Colgate smile. When visiting the statues, you have to line up, take a bow, put some flowers next to the statues and behave. This is all part of visiting North Korea.

I am intrigued by how the city looks: quite clean, calm and a bit surreal. Lots of communist like buildings, propaganda billboards on the walls, women in the street in western clothes with high heels (surely made in China), men in brown uniforms and schoolgirls in blue-white dresses. Everybody wears a pin of his or her leader(s). Pleasant opera-like classical music is playing in the streets; there are not a lot of cars around and the only commercial activity I see is a flower seller and another ice cream and drinks vendor. It seems business as usual here, but for me, it seems more like stepping into another world, one where people seem happy and are living their lives but do not know what is out there beyond their borders.

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