I wish I could go to North Korea

Friday night Primetime had a fascinating episode in which Diane Sawyer and crew spent 12 days in Pyongyang.

Maybe one of the most well-known aspects of this little-known country are the huge displays of sort of syncrhonized rhythmic gymnastics. Sawyer saw a lot of this in action, including soldiers marching in perfect and exaggerated sync, and a very creepy display of little tots, some no more than three, smiling and swaying back and forth – again in perfect rhythm – as they played instruments.

A lot of Pyongyang reminded me of Beijing, the drab dress, the ardent patriotism, the way they bashed U.S. one second, then cited Toy Story as a favorite movie the next (my cousin would often attribute American songs to Chinese origins).

North Korea seems an exaggerated version of China, which at least has access to much of the rest of the world and doesn’t treat its leader like a god and is able to feed its people. Although the famine in North Korea seems to be over, it has had longterm effects. Sawyer said the North Koreans are on the average four inches shorter than their southern counterparts.

They couldn’t film a lot of stuff, and without much rhyme or reason. For instance they couldn’t film a grocery or department store. They were only reluctantly given permssion to film a demonstration of the making of kimchee.

Why do I want to go? Because, from what I can tell, North Korea seems so vastly different but familiar too. Like China in bizarro world.

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