Green Room

Re: North Korea

posted at 3:01 pm on January 22, 2013 by

AP, that excerpt really speaks volumes, and once again calls into question what the heck Google CEO Eric Schmidt thought he was going to accomplish with this visit — except, of course, give the Kim regime a big, fat propaganda victory. This is a country that can’t light its own towns at night.  Did he think that this was an untapped market for Google Ads?

But what struck me more than Ms. Schmidt’s interesting travelogue into tyranny were the pictures she took.  The entire country looks empty.  One picture, titled “Traffic ladies,” is particularly revealing.  The regime has traffic police on a street where only one car can be dimly viewed in the distance.  Most of the pictures of Pyongyang — the most populous city of the DPRK — shows empty streets, no parked cars, and sterility stretching on nearly forever.  The only picture in which Pyongyang shows any sign of life is when the residents line up to purchase “sundries.”  Otherwise, Pyongyang looks like the most well-developed ghost town in history.

Compare those images with the dynamism displayed by Western countries — even in subzero temperatures, such as Minneapolis, or in New York City in the winter.  It’s a stark reminder of just how bizarre and retrograde these closed tyrannies become.

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There’s a show called “Departures” where they did a two parter in N. Korea. It was just as you said. A traffic lady with no traffic, no cars, not too many people, restricted places to go and someone with them ALL the time. In some ways it’s like time stopped.

Only watched one part so far, but it was fascinating and the most interesting thing was one of the travelers said (and it’s very clearly noticeable) is that the N Koreans have one of the last pure cultures still left.

In some ways that’s an admirable point, considering how a lot of western culture has fallen into degeneracy and ignorance, but the cost is having a restrictive and destructive government.

kim roy on January 22, 2013 at 3:11 PM

China has some of these ghost towns too. Completely bizarre walking into a mall, fully stocked, unlocked, lights off. No one around – but you know you’re being watched.

And, while the city was certainly bustling, it was an odd sight for me to see a six lane road leaving a town (Hami/Kumul) with virtually no cars on it. Oh, and there was a literal streetsweeper, pulling his carted trashcan and pushing a broom down the road.

Logus on January 22, 2013 at 3:46 PM

This is a country that can’t light its own towns at night.

Power is a secondary cause of the “lights out” policy.

The primary reason is that its a cultural fear that if they leave the lights on, our bombers will use them to guide on.

BobMbx on January 22, 2013 at 4:50 PM

Ed, re: the emptiness, you’re also echoing this documentary maker’s experience:

Welcome to North Korea


Good Lt on January 22, 2013 at 5:11 PM

If you guys look at Google Earth or any other top-down photos of their main city, you’ll notice a couple of things.

1. The buildings along the street are brightly colored and are very clean looking. Within the courtyard of these buildings, there are slum-like appartments where the actual residents live.

2. There are no major amounts of parking lots for any amount of cars.

3. Some of these buildings are only 1/2 way constructed and have been that way since the fall of the Soviet Union due to their financial supply being cut off.

4. Driving along the street you will see plenty of objects in the windows, but these objects are merely poster-board replicas of the items. Several videos on Youtube explain this.

5. You may find some USA Made productst there. China buys them, and then re-sells them to the DPRK. So, you might find brand new CAT’s and otherwise pricy items there.

Sad, simply sad.

iheart707 on January 23, 2013 at 10:09 AM

Rather than worry about the “sterility” or (worse) “purity” of their culture we need to look at the estimated 200,000 citizens kept in remote concentration camps, many of them born in the camp because someone in their family at some time was thought to be critical of the regime.

It is ironic that “don’t-be-evil” Eric visited the most evil country on the earth and didn’t know what he was looking it.

And now, from Google (thanks, Eric): north korea death camps

virgo on January 23, 2013 at 11:06 AM

sorry, mangled the link:

(some graphic images)

virgo on January 23, 2013 at 11:17 AM

One picture, titled “Traffic ladies,” is particularly revealing.

Youtube – “Pyongyang Traffic Girls From The Sky”

Great good fun.

whatcat on January 23, 2013 at 1:06 PM