How N. Korea Looks Like, to Chinese People

[imText1]Recently many Chinese tourists have been posting pictures on North Korea.

It is because interests in North Korea have increased due to nuclear, missile and defectors problems. Especially, after the missile conflict occurred last June the criticism of Chinese internet users on North Korea has been growing. Following this, travel sketches and pictures on North Korea have spread quickly.

At present, perspectives of Chinese people on the traditional relations between North Korea and China have been changing especially among citizens in big cities. They are very critical to the terror reign of Kim Jong Il and the starvation of the North Korea people. They claim that only if Kim Jong Il carries out reformation and liberalization, North Korean people can survive, but Kim Jong Il does not do only for his own greed.

Absolutely, China does not have any ‘public opinion political system’ unlike democracies such as S. Korea, U.S, and Europe do. However, the future relations between North Korea and China could depend on the perspective of Chinese people on North Korea and Kim Jong Il. Furthermore, the fate of peninsular as well as of Kim Jong Il’s regime could also counts on it.

In that aspect, now it is very important to objectively analyze the perspective of Chinese people on North Korea. For a while, the DailyNK has consistently reported and will continue to report about what Chinese people put their interests in North Korea. In order to show the perspectives of Chinese people on North Korea as they are, we translated literally travel sketches, explanations on picture and replies of internet users towards North Korea.

The pictures and travel sketches on North Korea below were posted on sites called ‘Jiayouzaixian (佳友在线)’, a camera club, and ‘Today North Korea (今日北朝鲜)’, a specializing organization in North Korea, and recently posted on a big Chinese portal site ‘Wangyi(網易)’ and a Chinese governmental TV( CCTV.com).

This picture was posted by a member of ‘Jiayouzaixian’, whose ID name is ‘Xiao Xiao(晓晓, Early Morning)’ last October. These pictures were spread on hundreds of sites including Singtao Hwangumang (www.singtaonet.com) that is in the 5th rank of the total Chinese internet sites.

What really drew attention was replies of internet users.

An internet user replies, “The reality of North Korea is same as that of 20 years ago. People have severely suffered.” Another internet user urged that ‘The North Korean people have suffered. The North Korean government should perform the reformation and liberalization. Learn from China and Korea.”

The criticism on Kim Jong Il is also increasing. One of hundreds of replies said that, “Lets root out Kim fatso and make democracy come true. If done so, people can have a way out.”

I will introduce travel sketches and explanation on pictures of Jiayouzaixian ‘Xiao Xiao’

“I open a door of secret nation”

North Korea is a close but secret nation. After the reformation and liberalization of China, information on North Korea has gradually decreased. North Korea hid its internal, secret aspects.

[imText2]This year(2005), on the national holiday North Korea invited me and I visited it in order to see a performance ‘Arirang’ that was produced to commemorate the 60th anniversary of (North) Korean Workers’ Party and the 60th anniversary of National Liberation War (the Korean war). Previously, I had heard about North Korea via North Korean movies and soldiers who participated in the Korean War.

I went into North Korea to see what North Korea is. The pictures and stories below are what I had seen and heard about for 4 days.

11:30am in September 30, our flight, Korea Air plane arrived at Pyongyang airport at 1pm. The Pyongyang airport was not big and quiet. As getting off the plane what caught my eyes was the portray of Kim Il Sung.

[imText3]Most of the passengers were Chinese tourists. They prepared for being checked in customs. This person is a driver driving a shuttle bus in the airport.

[imText4]This woman is a security officer working at the airport. Before leaving Beijing, it was announced that we could not bring any cellular phones into North Korea. Due to it, as passing customs, passengers had to offer their cellular phones to customs officers. Photo equipments were also not allowed to be brought into North Korea.

[imText5]North Korea is famous for a nation that does not allow free activities of foreigners. We had to be guided by a tour agent which was designated by North Korea. In tour buses standing by in the airport, two guides were already waiting for us.

One guide is Lee Joon who was 30 and worked in the Third International Tour before. He said he had studied Chinese for 4 years in North Korea. Apparently, he looked gentle. We were 24 Chinese except for a Belgian.

As we got on the bus, we asked him to sing a song. This guide sang a song called a “flower girl” and North Korean revolution song in Chinese. He introduced another guide called ‘Choi’ to us. In fact, we were curious about who ‘guide Choi’ was. Every tour group is bound to have a quiet person like guide Choi who had followed about to the den without any word.

[imText6]Throughout the tour, I felt uncomfortable because of the appearance of North Korea. It has skyscrapers and rather unique buildings. Yet, its cities looked gray and white and outer walls of apartments were plain primary colors. They had no ornaments.

We could find out big propaganda panels and posters everywhere. They reminded me of the Great Cultural Revolution period as if time goes backwards.

[imText7]The North Korean people wore clothes in humble colors and some women wore traditional clothes. Every person wore a Kim Il Sung badge on their suits.

‘Guide Choi’ checked the number of the passengers with watching eyes. He was good at Chinese. Sometimes, he asked about our situations. He seemed to check something. We suggested him to smoke with us, and had a talk with him. However, as we asked something related to North Korean military, then he turned red and said no. He did not watch us seriously because we complied with the ‘rules’. Yet, the Belgian made a trouble.

The Belgian went around wherever he wanted to go and be curious whenever the guide could not watch him. The guide Choi taught us “You can take pictures of sceneries, yet do not take pictures of where I do not allow.” Usually, good places were allowed, yet bad places were not. These pictures were taken with his permission. Guide Choi urged us to quickly get on the bus whenever we passed by bad places.

[imText8]As our bus passed through an intersection, a pretty woman traffic police officer suddenly came up gallantly. The guide said every main road has a traffic agent who directs traffic. Traffic police job is a good job which is stable and highly paid. Woman traffic police officers should be tall, pretty and single. So the competition rate is so high.

[imText9]We went to ‘Cheongchun (youth, in Korean) Hotel’ by bus. The hotel had 30 floors, yet we were very disappointed with it. As I was in China, one of my friends said to me that, “All foreigners who came into North Korea will be assigned to Korea Hotel, Yangkakdo Hotel and Myohyang Mountain Hotel.”

These three hotels fall in the 3 stars and 4 stars hotel classes. However, ‘Chungchun’ hotel did not look high class. In front of the hotel, two luxury cars were parked and to the right next, one Beijing jeep was parked.

[imText10]The hotel rooms were not luxury, but had air-conditioners, color TVs, refrigerators and showers each. The guide said that the hotel was the first class hotel. TV channel is only one.

In Pyongyang every streetlight was off except for main streets. So, we could not go out of the hotel. Yet fortunately, because we stayed in a room on the 29th floor, we could see skyscrapers and streets of Pyongyang. This is the full view of Pyongyang Independence Day Street.

[imText11]In order to look around the Panmunjom truce village, we ran on the Pyongyang-Gaesung highway. What differed from highways in China was that it had no traffic line and no cars.

[imText12]In front of a Panmunjom North Korea guard post, a ‘Beijing’ jeep was parked. North Korea provided ‘Beijing’ cars to military leaders.

[imText13]They are soldiers who keep the Panmunjom, a place made Armistice Agreement. During the Korean War, 380,000 Chinese soldiers died, and 134 patriots including Mao Anyong, son of Mao Zedong in Wooi tower’.

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