Search Box

Thursday, April 12, 2012

"Wrong turn grants glimpse behind N. Korean curtain"

The following AP article appeared on Yahoo News today:

The first four paragraphs:

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — The press bus took a wrong turn Thursday. And suddenly, everything changed in the official showcase of North Korean achievement.

A cloud of brown dust swirled down deeply potholed streets, past concrete apartment buildings crumbling at the edges. Old people trudged along the sidewalk, some with handmade backpacks crafted from canvas bags. Two men in wheelchairs waited at a bus stop. There were stores with no lights, and side roads so battered they were more dirt than pavement.

"Perhaps this is an incorrect road?" mumbled one of the North Korean minders, well-dressed government officials who restrict reporters to meticulously staged presentations that inevitably center on praise for the three generations of Kim family who have ruled this country since 1948.

So as cameras madly clicked, the drivers of the three buses quickly backed up in the narrow streets and headed back toward the intended destination: a spotlessly clean, brightly-lit, extensively marbled and nearly empty building that preserves digital music recordings and makes DVDs.

My first thought, of course, was how gratifying it is always to see a Potemkin village exposed for what it is. 

My second thought was how typical this is of the false facades that communist dictatorships have erected in the past century. 

But my third thought was, really, how different is this than going on a first date? Haven't we all been on first dates where we try to make a (somewhat falsely) positive impression, hide our weaknesses, and so on?

I guess that's the thing about communism: at first it sounds like something you might consider getting into bed with, but once you get to really know it, once you find out how much you've been lied to, you end up hating it.

No comments: