After temporarily losing my camera bag and wallet last night, it was time to present my letter. I’d spent much of the previous evening stressing about this moment, hoping I could marshal the appropriate words to save my guides from further embarrassment. I showed my message to one of the Koryo Tours folks, got his OK, and thereafter delivered my letter to the senior Korean guide. I handed it to him with both hands.
“Write from the heart,” he said last night. I sure did try.
Thereafter our group drove to Kim Il Sung Square where thousands of children had already arrayed themselves in straight lines to practice for a torchlight march. By now we’d grown used to the sight of children staring at us, but we also were happy to see their smiles and hear their efforts to practice some English with us. We strolled the square, snapping photos and sticking close to our guides.
|Kim Il Sung Square|
|Gazing over the Workers' Paradise|
|Visiting Mansudae Grand Monument|
|Bowing before the Great Leader and Dear Leader|
|The revolution will be televised|
|Mansudae Grand Monument|
|Pueblo deck gun|
The rest of the day featured a mixture of North Korean hard and soft sell. We had lunch at Pyongyang Pizza, where we sampled a surprisingly good approximation of Italian pizza [Kim Jong Il had apparently sent a delegation to Naples, hoping to master the secrets of perfect crust and seasoning].
|Metro museum panorama|
|Leading the underground revolution|
I imagined the builders furiously scribbling in their notebooks. They must have been thinking, “Why didn’t I think of that?”
Hearing how the Great Leader was apparently the cause of all good things in North Korea, I’d occasionally drift back to that Simpsons episode when Marge and Groundskeeper Willie challenge Homer’s decision to dedicate his life to the leader of a cult called The Movementarians.
Groundskeeper Willie: Alright, what's so fine and great about your fancy pants leader?!?
Homer: The Leader knows all and sees all!
Groundskeeper Willie: Oh! This Leader, he sounds like a grand fella!
Marge: Willie, I'm not sure we're making any headway here.
Groundskeeper Willie: Would you shut up, woman! He's talking about my Leader!
|War Victory Monument|
|Another view of the War Victory Monument|
|Monument to Party Foundation|
Something tells me I'm going to have some interesting conversations with U.S. government officials one day.
All photographs - except for "Meeting" and "Bowing" - © Andrew Wood