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North Korea in My Eyes

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Many people said, No.Korea is the most mysterious country. To be honest, it is a truth. When I went there in 2005, I was almost 13 years old. My parents told me what N.Korea looks like now, is what China looks like before 1970s, even far worse.

Yalu River is the boundary between N.Korea and China. Standing on the bank of the river in Dandong City in China, Sinuiju City in Korea could be seen clearly. It is said that Sinuiju is the economic zone in Korea. But honest speaking, when I watched it, it was like a small town in China. And when I really stepped onto the land of Sinuiju, I found nearly all the buildings there were built 30 years ago. Since 1980s, because of the large-scale economic crisis in Korea, the constructions of the cities in Korea almost stopped; the limited finance has been invested into the construction of Pyongyang.

The transport for foreign viewer like us was train. To my surprise, electric train! But the speed was alarming slow. From Sinuiju to Pyongyang, the railway travelled 280 km. This electric train had run 8 hours before arriving at Pyongyang station! Why? There were the two reasons: First, the highest speed of the train was around 25 miles/h; Second, there were many electricity-cutting during the travel. And each time was more than 20 minute. For example, after 8 minutes the train started from Sinuiju, the train then had to stop for 40 minutes to wait for the electricity supply. Such a kind of cases happened more than 20 times.

The avatars of KIM II SUNG and KIM JONG-IL hang the walls of every cars of the train. It is quite common in anywhere in N.Korea. And the conductors of the train: When I took out an MP3 listener, he was amazed and asked me to have a look. He handed the listener, a surprised and praised look took on her face. He gestured with fingers seemed to show this listener was hard to see in his country.

As I was seeing outside the window, I found their was few parts of green on the hills, nearly all the lands were cultivated into farms, and the farms were poor soil. The Chinese guide going with us introduced that since 1990s, the crop failures happened every year. Every year, nearly 100 thousand of Korean starved to death. So even a small area of land, they would plant crops on it. How about the ones who could not have lands? The majority of them chose to escape from Korea to South or North(China). Recently, I heard a piece of stats that in 2010, there had had 20 thousand N.Korean escaped to China. However, inside the N.Korea, the governors are always publicize the fake power of their agriculture, remarks like “The food production of our great nation is highest in the world!” can be seen at many occasions in Korea.

Pyongyang in my eyes is the only place in N.Korea which can be called as “city”. The dwellings in Pyongyang were monotonous, having a huge shape and grey or indigo colors. Beijing in 1980s was just like that. It was amazing that most windows of the buildings in Pyongyang were lack of glass, the recidents only used plastic clothing to seal the windows. The reason was that no enough glass could be bought on the market.

From the buildings in Pyongyang, you can know how important is FACE. Arc de triomphe de l’étoile?Triumphal arch?in Paris is 49.54 metres high. When Kim II Sung heard this, he ordered the workers a higher Triumphal arch in Pyongyang in1982, with a height of 60m. Ryugyong Hotel was the 7th highest hotel in the world. This hotel would be 330m high. The Chinese guide said the purpose of building the hotel was to have a competition in architecture area with USA. However, in 1992, because of the lack of finance, the whole project had to stop. When I saw it in 2005, it seemed that the construction was still at the middle of the process when it stopped. Few years later, in 2008, because of the investent of Orascom from Egypt.

Ryugyong Hotel’s building was a typical deed to show how N.Korea value their nation’s and leader’s FACE. My guide told me that when RH was started in 1987, the economic situation in Korea was optimitic. In 1976, the power generation of N.Korea was 1/3 of the whole China then, GNP per captia was about 2000$, higher than S.Korea. KIM II SUNG believe their “dream”, catching up with USA, would come true in next few years, so he commanded the construation apartment to build RH to show off their industrial strength, with 750 million$ put in it. However, with USSR’s disintegration, the economic situation in N.Korea failed sharply;In 1992, the GNP per captia was only 500$. Meanwhile, with expanding teh military, the Hotel had to stop for a long time until 2008. When I asked the people in Pyongyang, no one would like to refer to RH;some people even just say I had never heard about this architecture.

If you are a resident in Pyongyang, you can enjoy privilege in Korea. In the city, if you are a teenager between 14 to 19 like me, your family can get 15 kilo crops or rice. The guide talked with me, “If you were in N.Korea, your family would benefit from you.” Nevertheless, this kind of food supply could not achieve in Korea indeed. I have told you what I saw in the train:They cannot produce the food they should produce. When talked about why they cannot deliever enough food and other daily product to citizens there, people there always thought USA was the country to blame, “Only because they blockade us!”

All above is the N.Korea in my eyes. I think travelling to this extremely impoverished country is valuable. Experience poverty for a time can really enrich our mind.

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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

Raiko said...
Dec. 26, 2011 at 8:27 am
Wow...thank you for writing this because this is something a lot of people should be aware about,that the people in North Korea are brainwashed since they were little to only believe what they were taught to believe.There is no space for the kids to have their own individual thoughts and freedom,and they will never know about all the things the world has to offer before they die.It`s so sad... Your article was informative and good overall,but there was some grammar mistakes...things like that,... (more »)
ZhongyiZhang replied...
Dec. 26, 2011 at 9:17 am
Thank you very much for commenting here! I will pay more attention to the grammar mistakes in the future. The highest leader of NK Kim Jong Il died few days ago, and this is a good chance for the globe to learn the situation of NK, one of the most secret countries. And NK is not very safe in the inner society, which makes your country Japan and my country China very nervous about it.
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