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Trip Start Sep 25, 2007
Trip End Oct 08, 2007

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Flag of Canada  , British Columbia,
Saturday, September 15, 2007

We have acquired a taste for the BBC. It is a refreshing change from CNN. British propaganda is more subtle and measured than its brash and sensational American counterpart. One night we were watching a fascinating BBC documentary on North Korea. The program showed how bizarre and surreal life is like inside the Hermit Kingdom. One segment showed a roomful of bandaged North Koreans who had all undergone treatment for blindness. The cameras were there for the grand unveiling of these fortunate souls who were about to regain their sight. One by one, the bandages came off and the blind could see. The healed ones immediately went to the front of the room and spewed out laughably over the top praises to the Great Leader and Dear Leader (i.e. Kim Il-Sung, now deceased, and his pudgy off-spring, Kim Jong-Il). After each exhortation everyone in the room clapped with glee and approval. We were waiting for one blind dude to exclaim, "Damn, still can't see a thing." We waited in vain since that dude probably got shot along with his family.

After seeing the documentary we thought it would be interesting to see North Korea for ourselves. There are actually tour companies that specialize in taking people inside North Korea. The trips start in Beijing and take in things like Pyongyang (the capital), the Mass Games, the Demilitarized Zone and Mt. Kumgang (supposed birth place of the Korean people and the Kim family). As Westerners you are followed by two minders at all times and are locked in your hotel at night. Sounds relaxing.

One of Mel's colleagues kindly lent us a book by a Canadian-Korean who was one of the first journalists to be allowed inside Kim's happy fun land. The author of "Inside the Hermit Kingdom - A Memoir" seems to have a sizable chip on her shoulder, but her account of her experience in North Korea and South Korea gave us a glimpse into the Korean psyche. After reading her book we feel better prepared as to what to expect on our trip, but who knows what will happen once you go through the looking glass ...

Our real plan is to breakdown our minders with our own propaganda. Taking a page out of Peter Griffin's guide to effective argumentation, we plan to constantly bombard them with exclamations of "Come onnnnn!!!" We will break them down in short order. Hopefully we won't get sent to a re-education camp-unless they have nightly campfires with marshmallows-mmm, marshmallows, crispy on the outside, soft and gooey on the inside.
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