Monday, July 7, 2008
Pyongyang: A journey in North Korea is Guy Delisle (a Quebecois, now living in France) graphuc memoir of two months spent working in the North Korean capital for a French animation company outsourcing work to the North Koreans. It is a fascinating look at North Korea and its regime. While he is not in NK for very long, Delisle observes the expat community of NK, and the dictatorial regime's forceful propaganda machine. All foreigners seem to be kept in a very closed bubble constantly watched by their assigned guides. The author takes a copy of Orwell's 1984 and observes the parallel. It is apt because the regime seems to permeate in all aspects. It is the most closed country in the world, and it is rather frightening the extent in which the whole population seems to live in a bubble themselves. Without any outside media and severe limited ability to travel and educate themselves, many seem to genuinely believe the personal cult and god-like presence of the Kims even if one of them is dead. The cult of personality is rather creepy. Though there is little choice, but to pretend to believe because the dictatorship has some of the worse human rights violations globally. A lot of what the memoir describes is not creepy. Nothing can last forever, and the NK regime certainly won't. It will be interesting when that happens since the country is in a time warp. It's like how people go to Cuba and say it looks the 1950s, but North Korea and its population seem to be still in the 50s since they are limited in communications, food security, electricity, industrialisation and manufacturing. Since the culture is protected is by the government, art is monitored. This is especially significant in that all its neighbours are accelerating at a very fast rate in the globalisation. Having read on North Korea a bit from my studies, I would recommend further reading of the subject if you are intrigued after this short, but interesting read.