The ideal North Korean Vacation

I think it gets kind of tiresome to always refer to anything and everything about North Korea as “surreal”….but what the heck? This is an utterly surreal (and very funny, in a surreal sort of way) article about taking your vacation in the world’s most surreal place:

In the surreal world of North Korean tourism, you can feast on local delicacies served by glamorous lady comrades, watch an acrobatics show infused with Stalinist humor and climb a storied mountain covered with plaques and monuments celebrating the totalitarian Kim clan.

But be back indoors by the midnight curfew — or face fines, questioning by authorities or, well, worse.

This is Mount Kumgang, the fortified tourist compound where the Hermit Kingdom meets the Magic Kingdom, right down to Disneyesque guys in fuzzy bear suits greeting visitors. A window into hermetically sealed North Korea since foreign visitors were granted limited access five years ago, it lies an hour’s drive north of the minefields and missile batteries lining the most heavily militarized border in the world.

Actually, nothing in this article is especially new. We all know by now that life in North Korea is one long David Lynch movie, but I’m still amazed every time I read about it. I mean, it can’t be real, can it? It’s all a joke, Kim Jong Il is one day going to smile and tell us it was a big hoax to see how gullible we dumb Westerners can really be — right? There’s no other explanation for such looniness:

The son [Kim Jong Il] is said to have entered this world on a mountaintop, his birth heralded by lightning bolts and a double rainbow. Recently named “Guardian of Our Planet” by the North Koreans, Kim Jong Il rules through a cult of personality that is alive and well in Mount Kumgang.

No act of the Kims is too small to be noted on these ancient rocks, now coated with more than 4,000 monuments, etchings and other commemorative inscriptions to the clan. A spot where Kim Il Sung is said to have especially appreciated the view is dutifully marked with a six-foot-tall stone tablet. Elsewhere a young guard stood by an etching commemorating the exact location where Kim Jong Sook, mother of the younger Kim, once rested her weary bones.

Check out the article. It’s long and rich with additional evidence that whatever else you can say about North Korea, there is certainly no other place on earth even remotely like it.

The Discussion: 2 Comments

And now is your chance to visit.

December 3, 2003 @ 11:00 pm | Comment


Are you bored with Bali? Tired of Thailand? Sore at Singapore? The hot place to be this year is exciting

December 4, 2003 @ 10:55 pm | Comment

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