May 31, 2009
Further to this, today’s Telegraph has an extract from Hyok Kang’s account of his childhood in 1990s North Korea, This Is Paradise!
I was born on April 20 1986 in a village not far from Onsong, a city of 300,000 inhabitants in the north-east of the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea, close to the Chinese border and Siberia. The city is divided into ku (districts) and ban (classifications) of 20 families. My parents lived in ban number three, in a semi-rural zone. The house was like dozens of others built on the same model and lined up in rows. There was a door, a single window, and a roof of curved orange tiles. The walls were white, but they had been painted blue to a height that I must have passed about the age of eight or nine. Each time the district officials came to check the hygiene of the houses, as they regularly did, they ordered us to change the colour of this lower part: to green, now blue, now light brown, but all the houses in our ban had to be the same colour; perhaps because dwellings, like everything else in North Korea, are the property of the people. That means that nothing belongs to anyone.
Via sk60, The Vice Guide to North Korea is worth watching. Shane Smith pays a visit to Pyongyang. Surrealism ensues. Part 1 is embedded below.
Parts 2-14 can be viewed here.