SPY and SUSPECT – all in one


spiderweb PICKINGS from my NORTH KOREAN DIARY 11.–21. April 2011

In North Korea, everybody is a spy and at the same time a suspect. Even if there is no reason to believe that something is wrong, to suspect something behind something, it seems to me, is an “official duty” that drives the system. We tourists are constantly watched, but we are not the primary suspects in this game. Tourists are the fat cows that have to be milked and guided through the “idyllic pastures” of KIM’S make-believe world. Total national isolation from the outside world, suspicion, mistrust and denial within the country, self censorship and total restraint – based on severe punishment – make this illusory world survive.

From afar, looking over the “facade”-city of Pyongyang from the 37th floor of the Yanggakdo Hotel, I get the impression that the KIMS are in a private war with practically everybody. In this treacherous spiderweb world of paranoia where emotions are enslaved to the communist party everyone is suspect.

It is the main task of all our guides, “permanent” and local ones, to keep up the myth that DPRK is a normal country and Pyongyang a modern almost western like capital. But whenever we engage with someone they cut off contact. If we don’t give in, pretend not to understand they threatened us that all our material, fotos and films, would be checked and deleted at the airport upon departure – because in case of problems the guides are the suspects, they will suffer and maybe their family members too.

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