Posts Tagged ‘Arirang’

With all the news about nuclear tests and missile launch preparations, you’ve probably figured this wasn’t a good time to take a holiday in Kim’s kingdom. But you haven’t reckoned with Nick Bonner, whose company Koryo Tours has been organising  trips to the secluded communist state for years.

I met Nick in North Korea last year, when I reported on the Pyongyang International Film Festival, and can safely say he’s a jolly nice chap. And he’s also an example of the indefatigable spirit of the British. Today, In a newsletter sent out by Koryo Tours today, Nick writes:

Despite the recent nuclear test and missile launches it is still business as usual and this is for us as well as for the various European Embassies in Pyongyang. We have tourists going in almost every week and fully expect the Arirang Mass Games to be going ahead from 10th August to the end of September and maybe into October, as previously confirmed. American tourists are welcomed during this time and tours are showing a high level of interest. This is one of the most interesting times to visit North Korea in recent memory, book now for a genuine once-in-a-lifetime trip!

Well, you have to give it to the Brits. They won’t take no for an answer.

UPDATE, 11 June 2009: Kim closes shop. The official (North) Korean International Travel Company have sent round an email saying that UK citizens will not be allowed in by the North Korean authorities any more: „In connection with the recent measures taken by UK government not to allow DPRK citizens to enter the UK we also will not receive any UK citizens as tourists to the DPRK for the time being.“ 


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Pjöngjang leuchtet. Jedenfalls die Skyline am Ufer des Taedong-Flusses, die wir nachts von unserem Hotel aus sehen können. Die Russen haben Öl geliefert, heißt es. Von Ferne dringt Baulärm über den Fluss, und Schweißbrenner blitzen aus nachtgrauen Gebäude-Gerippen.

Dahinter ragt das Ryugyong-Hotel, eine pyramidenförmige Bauruine, die einmal 3000 Zimmer und sieben Drehrestaurants beherbergen sollte, wie ein ausgeraubtes Pharaonengrab in den Himmel über Pjöngjang. Selbst diese brachliegende Betonmonstrosität soll zu neuem Leben erweckt werden. Ein ägyptisches Unternehmen – wie passend – will den Bau vollenden.

Kein Zweifel, es tut sich was im Herzen der Finsternis, in dieser Hauptstadt auf der „Achse des Bösen“, zu der die Bush-Regierung das kommunistische Nordkorea zählt. Nordkorea ist ein vom Rest der Welt hermetisch abgeriegeltes Niemandsland. Wer in Hamburger Buchhandlungen nach Reiseführern fragt, erntet Schulterzucken, auch das Reisebüro muss Sonderschichten schieben, um ein Flugticket zu organisieren.

Pjöngjang wirkt auf den ersten Blick wie ein Eisschrank, in dem der Kalte Krieg konserviert wurde. An jeder Straßenecke, jeder Fassade riesige Propagandaslogans, die zur Vernichtung des imperialistischen Klassenfeinds auffordern oder die Vorzüge des koreanischen Kommunismus preisen. (mehr …)

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HUMOR may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the citizens of North Korea, a country known mostly for militant anti-Western propaganda, chronic food shortages and an internationally isolated government pursuing nuclear weapons.

And yet audiences at the 11th Pyongyang International Film Festival here clearly enjoyed themselves this fall during screenings of Western dramas and comedies, occasionally even erupting into riotous laughter.

In most other countries movies like Marcus H. Rosenmüller’s “Heavyweights,” a lighthearted comedy about a group of Bavarian villagers contending in the 1952 Winter Olympics, would be harmless fun. But not in North Korea, and to prove it there was a man with a piece of cardboard sitting in the projection room to cover the lens in case anything deemed unseemly to Korean eyes was shown.

That day, mercifully, the cardboard-wielding censor wasn’t particularly good at his job. His hapless attempts to maintain officially sanctioned decency only added to the amusement of the 2,000 moviegoers in the gigantic Pyongyang International Cinema House, who responded energetically to the sight of a half-dozen outsize German bobsledders baring their bottoms and stuffing themselves with food and beer to gain weight for a competition.

It was an unusual sight in this corner of the world, to say the least.

(mehr …)

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