After visiting North Korea in June of this year, a group of young, male west coast U.S. travelers have posted both a YouTube video of their trip and a lengthy Reddit IamA. The latter is an absolute must-read.
Asked what surprised them most during their visit, gnarfox replies:
I would say the fact that our North Korean guides were surprised when we mentioned how old Kim Jong-un was (“Really? He is 28?”), and were equally surprised when we told them that he studied at a Swiss boarding school for a few years. They had no idea. They are trained to know all sorts of hard facts – the square meters of a museum, or when a statue was built – but they can’t even explain “Juche”, which is supposed to be the central guiding philosophy of their entire country. The access to information, even for the relatively privileged, is absurdly limited. By the end, we got the feeling that we knew more about North Korea than the residents of Pyongyang did.
Elsewhere, gnarfox astutely points out the staged nature of a packaged DPRK look-see:
As I expected, we weren’t allowed any up-close glimpses of poverty, but at the same time, you start to notice things. Like how they’ll take you to a nice (and empty) restaurant, pretty girls in kimonos will serve you tons of food, then you go to the bathroom and the faucets have no running water. If you stop at random floors in the Chinese-built luxury hotel, a lot of them have no electricity at all. There’s the constant feeling that nothing you are observing or experiencing is actually real, but rather a pageant to trick you into thinking North Korea is a functioning modern nation.
Bookmark, read and enjoy.