26 October, 2020

Pyongyang Diary

Each night I sent an e-mail to my wife that began with the words. “As I type, I have two ladies standing at my shoulder reading every word I write, which is very rude.” I would then pause and look up at them...

Pyongyang Diary

The Unreal World

The clocks at the airport arrival terminal tell you Pyongyang is one hour ahead of Beijing. Everything you see from then on tells you it’s thirty years behind. I had stepped on to the aging Soviet-era plane to the sound of suitably stirring patriotic music. I was ushered through the first class section with its fake marble laminate and little embroidered cushions by pretty air hostesses in bright red uniforms, white lace gloves and little Kim Jong-il badges. The men all looked like they’d been dressed from the Bad Guy section of Sholay’s wardrobe department. My fellow passengers moved around so much during the flight that when we landed I was still standing in the aisle. Two hours, two power cuts, and two government minders later, me, my luggage and my new friends were heading into the capital.

Pyongyang is the only major city I’ve been...



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