Friday, 11 June 2004

Our Great and Respected Leader: Part 1


A few days ago BBC4 showed a film nearly three hours long about two little girls training for the Mass Games in Pyongyang, the greatest choreographed spectacle in the world, featuring 80,000 child gymnasts. These take place whenever there is an excuse such as the Leader’s birthday or the anniversary of some event in the history of The Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea.

This is a peg on which I can hang a boast. Not a really Great Boast (like, say, At the wedding: “Yes, charming couple, I’ve slept with both of them”), but not a bad one, which I have been making at intervals for years, whenever I can get someone to listen.

North Korea is usually referred to as a “secret and little understood country”, or “a closed and repressive society”. So it is, and I’VE BEEN THERE, four times: once alone, once with a colleague, once in a small group and once with a thousand people from 86 different countries. It’s true that it this was quite a while ago, but no-one much has been there since, and not much has changed, so my experience is still worth relating.
But this is too good a boast to be used up all at once.

continued in Part 2...

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Acknowledgement to "Pyongyang", Foreign Languages Publishing House, D.P.R.K., 1975, for the illustrations ?

Tony said...

Yes, or something like that.
Were you there too?

Froog said...

The film you mention, A State Of Mind is not 3 hours long (though a Mass Games performance runs, I think, to about 2 hours, and can seem longer). I hope you weren't suggesting that it is overlong, or seems so because you found it boring. I thought it quite charming, although the title is a bit naff.

It was made by a friend of mine, Nick Bonner, who is a great enthusiast for all things North Korean and a passionate collector of their rather wonderful propaganda art. He also takes people to Pyongyang (and elsewhere in the country) several times a year with his boutique travel company, Koryo Tours.

End of plug.

Tony said...

Er, I don't think we're talking about the same film. Was Nick Bonner's shown on our TV in 2004?

Does his enthusiasm extend to Their Dear Leader?

What's a boutique travel company?