Can't wait to get there

A couple of quick singles (to use an oddly placed cricket metaphor) on North Korea. On Sunday night I lodged my visa and trip application with the folks at Koryo Tours, one of the world's best (only?) North Korean travel experts. Nick and Simon, the Beijing-based Englishmen who are the brains behind the operation have a tremendously close connection with the regime, and not only take curious travellers into NK, but have also arranged for several documentaries to be shot there. An impressive effort given the severe limitations usually imposed on journalists.

In other North Korean news, the rivetting story of US Sgt Charles Robert Jenkins, an American soldier who defected to the North in 1965, has had a few twists and turns. Jenkins has been sentenced by a US court martial to 30 days in prison, a demotion to Private and a dishonourable discharge. Not bad after spending 39 years enjoying North Korean hospitality.

It's definately worth checking out the interview and profile of Jenkins in the (now, sadly folded) Far Eastern Economic Review. How's this for a teaser - it's a story of hardship, politics, the military, romance and Junichiro Koizumi:

In Jenkins' first interview since taking flight from the North Korean regime in July, the alleged defector tells the REVIEW why he intends to turn himself over to the U.S. Army even though he expects to face a court martial. Jenkins reveals that he sought asylum at the Soviet embassy in Pyongyang in 1966, endured repeated beatings at the hands of another alleged American defector, and was pressured by North Korean authorities to reject a personal invitation by the Japanese prime minister to leave the country with him. And he describes how his difficult life in North Korea was lifted from misery by a love affair with a Japanese nurse who shared his hatred of the communist regime and eventually helped him and their two daughters escape.


Yo Bro, it's Junichiro Koizumi (thanks to worth100.com)
Yo Bro, it's Junichiro Koizumi (thanks to worth100.com)


UPDATE 19/11 1:30am: A quick clarification on the Koryo Group and the government of North Korea. The guys at Koryo are not in any way politically aligned with the government, and their dealings are with the NK state travel company Ryohaengsa and with the Department of Foreign Affairs. The close connection that they share is an administrative rather than political one.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Ari:

A trip to NK? Sound challenging...lol
The conserved country also is a unknown place for most chinese as well.

Yang

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