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Politics
January 22, 2005 10:52 AM   Subscribe

North Korea is the most secretive country in the world today, with its main railway lined with walls so high that its foreign passengers can't see the countryside.
posted by semmi (19 comments total)

 
check THIS
posted by the theory of revolution at 11:09 AM on January 22, 2005


It's been covered before, but this is also an interesting essay by a grad student who was lucky enough to visit Pyongyang & take pictures with only a handful of espionage accusations.

semmi: this would be a good post for keyword tags so that all North Korea-related info could be easily indexed
posted by dhoyt at 11:19 AM on January 22, 2005


Man, that's depressing. And scary. What's up with those text ads at the bottom of revolution's link--"Fly To North Korea!"?
posted by fandango_matt at 11:21 AM on January 22, 2005


I was transfixed by the photos of the giant stadium robot cult performance art extravaganza (page 5 of the essay linked to by dhoyt).
posted by kozad at 11:49 AM on January 22, 2005


I would love to see a video of that performance, just to see the precision with which it is apparently presented. Those pictures were amazing, yet disturbing at the same time.
posted by punishinglemur at 11:51 AM on January 22, 2005


South Korea is investing heavily in this.
posted by Eideteker at 12:08 PM on January 22, 2005


Thanks, semmi and dhoyt - these are really interesting articles. I am very interested to read the book reviewed in semmi's link.
posted by Dr. Wu at 12:38 PM on January 22, 2005


How "Brazil" of them - if only they had ads.
posted by fungible at 2:09 PM on January 22, 2005


Enjoyed the article and plan to read Under the Loving Care... Thanks semmi.
posted by shoepal at 6:33 PM on January 22, 2005


This is an "All Things Considered" story about the problems severe malnutrition has caused in N. Korea.

It's interesting (in a horrible and gruesome way) to think which will happen first: will the regime destroy itself by destroying its brainwashed citizens, or will the brainwashed citizens decide they're so miserable they must go along with the expected war because they're dying anyway?

Insert gripe about mishandled foreign relations here.
posted by MiHail at 6:56 PM on January 22, 2005


Fascinating read. Thanks, semmi; I've put "Under the Loving Care" on my to-read list.

BTW, the reviewer (not the author) is Nicolas Kristof, who received a Pullitzer for his excellent book on China (co-authored with his wife).
posted by sour cream at 7:10 PM on January 22, 2005


That may be the reason for it. There might be another reason, though. When I was on a train in Viet Nam, it was pretty frequent that people along the tracks threw rocks at the train. It was dangerous to get too close to the windows, especially if they were open. A high wall would prevent that.
posted by Xoc at 9:11 PM on January 22, 2005


Do not mistake shame for secretiveness.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:23 PM on January 22, 2005


The walls might be a defensive measure in case invaders try to drive tanks and trucks up the railways. Makes ambushes easy, and you can knock the walls over to block the way.
posted by fleacircus at 11:05 AM on January 23, 2005


Yeah, right, like anybody'd invade a totalitarian repressive regime just to inflict democracy or something...

oh, wait...they don't have oil...
posted by alumshubby at 11:40 AM on January 23, 2005


From within dhoyt's link, description and a bunch of images from a big festival in North Korea.

The performance appears to be as stirring and visually stunning as any you could ever imagine. If you were brought up with this ideology and these images, and no information from the outside world, would you be able to break from it mentally? I'm not sure I would. It's really chilling.
posted by ibmcginty at 11:45 AM on January 23, 2005


Fascinating links, and a good thread. The whole question of strength is fascinating to me because it is so hard to gauge. I had a pretty good idea that the Soviet Union who disintegrate if the Baltic States left, but I am still flabbergasted at how fast people lost their Soviet identity.

Has anyone read the books recommended by Fisher? They don't look like books an academic would recommend. But I'd definitely like to read more about Korea.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 12:29 PM on January 23, 2005


This tale, of an Italian making Pizza for Kim Jong Il is also really, really interesting.
posted by jedrek at 6:25 AM on January 24, 2005


dhoyt, I just spent an hour at work reading your link. It's utterly fascinating, especially the comparison between the DMZ tour you take from the South and from the North.
posted by SisterHavana at 9:54 AM on January 24, 2005


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