MATT HARDING: I did technically go into North Korea. I’m standing about three metres past the borderline in the latest video but I didn’t actually go into North Korea, which is just it takes some time and some red tape cutting to do it and so I couldn’t this time.
ANDREW DENTON: Actually that scene in the video where you’re dancing in the demilitarised zone with that guard just looking at you, what do you think he made of what you were doing?
MATT HARDING: Well, he was actually a South Korean guard and his job is to keep tourists who go to see the demilitarised zone from defecting into North Korea and he’s doing a sort of a tae kwon do pose, so he probably you know once he was off duty he might have gone home and laughed about it but at the time his job is just to be a a immovable mountain.
ANDREW DENTON: I just love the thought that you went through that door and 50 years later, hundreds of thousands of North Koreans come dancing over the border.
MATT HARDING: Some day, maybe.*
It’s silliness is something we all pretty much get. It was a neat way to be able to connect with people who I wouldn’t have had a lot to say to, even if I did speak Hooley or if they spoke any English. We could just dance and you know have a good time.
I heard Matt speak at TED in 2009, and it was clear that something still wasn’t quite working for him with the dancing videos. Performing a goofy dance in front of people who’ve got rich and sophisticated dance traditions is a bit like backpacking around the world while eating only McDonalds.
In honor of the new dancing-around-the-world video by Matt Harding (Where The Hell is Matt?), I’m releasing some never-before-seen photos of Matt at work. I know, because I took them! I got to spend 22 hours aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln off the coast of California last August, part of a blogger group that included Matt Harding, Jeremiah Owyang, Susan Etlinger, Calvin Lee, Shira Lazar, and other digital luminaries. The highlight of the trip was watching Matt invent a dance. First he had the officers teach him the signals they use to keep pilots from crashing their F-18s on the flight deck. After choreographing a dance based on those signals, he taught the number to the initially skeptical and later jubilant sailors. He didn’t have much time because we were scheduled to fly off the ship on a cargo plane via catapult that morning, but he rehearsed it and filmed it in about 30 minutes, start to finish.
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