I know, I know, it’s hard to imagine donating money to anything involving North Korea. I mean, hell, just look at the regime-endorsed Twitter-stream! But, when I saw the appeal from Koryo Tours for donations, I found it impossible to take issue. This is an independent organization run by a Brit that’s trying to raise a mere $6,700 for two humanitarian projects in the isolated Communist state.
I first heard about the documentary film “Crossing the Line” back in 2005. Rumors shot around in the press. Then, I had the good fortune to see the film “A State of Mind” at the Tribeca Film Festival. North Korea documentarian Nick Bonner was on hand to discuss the film and confirmed that his team was making what would become “Crossing the Line,” a film about the last American defector living in North Korea. Last Tuesday, I was finally able to see the film, which was an expeirence about which I have been dreaming since news broke of former American soldier Charles Robert Jenkins’ defection from North Korea to Japan.
I was not disappointed.
Check out my latest piece for TraderDaily.com’s travel section. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to go on vacation and stare down people who are trained to combat your way of life, Panmunjom must be on your list. Visit the truce village, and even cross into North Korea! This is a trip not to be missed.
Okay, I follow North Korea the way most people in my neighborhood follow the NY Jets. So, I was pretty excited to see recent extensive coverage of the DPRK on Gawker, including some great campaign posters. Check out the links to interesting articles below, and some cool propaganda.
Gawker: Pyongyang: “The Alcatraz of Fun”
Washington Post: My Excellent North Korean Adventure
New Yorker: Our Man in Pyongyang
New Yorker: The Reluctant Communist
OhmyNews: The Reluctant Communist
Hey, if you were thinking of heading to the last truly communist stronghold in the world, make up your mind fast. The “Mass Games” (also called “Arirang”), a spectacle of coordinated movements and groupthink, involving more than 100,000 performers, is not going to be held in 2009. That makes 2008 the last year to catch this event … possibly until 2012.
For Americans to go to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, North Korea) is pretty damned expensive, but it may be worth it if you can afford the price of admission. Check out Koryo Tours if you are interested in the 2008 Mass Games. To get a feel for other reasons to check out the DPRK, read my article in DealmakerDaily.com’s travel section.
The “good” news is that the next Arirang is likely to be held in 2012, the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung, who, though dead, remains the eternal president of North Korea. While that promises to be an amazing event, I’m pretty sure the 2008 Arirang is worth seeing as well.
I would go, but it’s almost impossible for journalists to get into the country. So, I’ll have to report from the sidelines.
Koryo Tours writes:
We have just been told by our partners in the DPRK that there is a chance there will be no mass games next year – possibly not even until 2012 which is the next big anniversary (Juche 100 – the 100th birthday of Kim Il Sung!!!). For Americans this year’s mass games may be the last opportunity to visit the country.
Nothing has been set in stone but we wanted to give you all pre-warning. This year there are 2 different performances – ARIRANG and PROSPER THE MOTHERLAND! – the latter has never been seen before so it really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
If you have any questions please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Very best wishes,
The Koryo Tours Team