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Gadling's Jerry Guo writes in the Washington Post about his "Excellent North Korean Adventure"
This past Sunday, Jerry wrote a dispatch from the kingdom of North Korea, and concluded that, hey, maybe things aren't quite as depressing and bizarre as everyone says. Here are a couple excerpts from the article:
"The truth is that the DPRK I toured this summer is, in many ways, no different from countless other struggling fourth-world nations, with its share of haves and have-nots. And in the capital of Pyongyang, where the country's elites dwell, I saw -- beneath the veneer of Western paranoia and Stalinist mind-control -- fleeting signs of grassroots capitalism: street vendors hawking junk food, indoor markets brimming with imported goods, even murmurs of drug use in the swanky underground casino."
"[M]uch to my surprise, I didn't see a single People's Army cadet goose-step past me with those missile-launchers-on-wheels that appear on the nightly news. What I did witness: a mother buying a soda for her daughter from a sidewalk snack cart; two older women sitting on a bench, gossiping and eating pears; businessmen coming out of the subway, sans Bluetooth headsets; a grimacing teenage boy getting a haircut at a salon.
"This was not the bizarro-land that I've read about in countless magazine articles and history books. No, this could have been Anytown, USA. Then I stumbled upon what turned out to be Pyongyang's grandest indoor market; these off-the-books hives of capitalism, with their distinctive blue roofs, were rumored to have cropped up shortly after the widespread 2002 economic reforms, the first semblance of free markets at work."
Encouraging, sort of.
Be sure to read Jerry's whole article here.