There Is No Cat

Hollering into the void since 2002

Friday, May 9, 2003

Hanging with The Dear Leader

I spent a good long while this morning reading Scott Fisher's account of his vacation. Yeah, okay, there are tons of pages about people's vacations, most of them dull as dishwater. but this vacation was to North Korea. One of the more curious aspects of the trip was the visit to the museum housing all the gifts given to the Kims, leaders of the country:

The other interesting gift is one I mentioned at the very beginning of this travelogue - a basketball autographed by Michael Jordan. This one presented by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright during here Fall 2000 visit to Pyongyang. It was funny seeing Mr. Huk's eyes light up in recognition of the name we had asked him about the day before when trying to figure out what he knew of the outside world.

"That's the person you talked about? He really is a basketball player!?" Mr. Huk was incredulous that a simple autographed basketball was all that the mighty US government had come up with. No cars, entertainment centers or nice respectful plaques, just a freaking basketball. It seemed to bother him for quite a while, he even asked me about it later on the bus ride back to Pyongyang. When I told him Jordan is kind of an American god, who got his start by playing basketball, he seemed to be somewhat mollified. Madeline Albright, if you're out there, excellent call on the gift - you certainly puzzled the hell out of a lot of North Koreans!

Other highlights include a trip to the DMZ between North and South Korea, with some amazing photographs, and the Arirang Festival. I've heard about this festival; over 100,000 participants engage in mass gymnastics and card flipping. Card flipping? You've got to see the pictures.

I always loved reading Andy Kershaw's travelogues to North Korea, where he enthused about the great songs they had on the cassettes he bought there, like "Song of Bean Paste" and "We Are Marching For The Great Leader". Nice to have another addition to the canon of North Korean travelogues. (Found via Jerry Kindall.)

Posted at 10:20 AM

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What do you mean there is no cat?

"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."

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