N. Korea: Not So 1984-Like

Pyongyang could be 'Anytown, USA,' student writes
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Sep 14, 2008 9:25 AM CDT
Two North Korean soldiers observe the south side at the truce village of Panmunjom in the demilitarized zone that separates the two Koreas, north of Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2008.    (AP Photo)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – When many Americans picture North Korea, they see “gulag and famine,” but what one student found was less 1984 and "more like the set of Austin Powers 4, minus the hot blondes.“ In fact, wandering Pyongyang revealed what could be “Anytown, USA,” free from "those missile-launchers-on-wheels that appear on the nightly news," writes Jerry Guo in the Washington Post.

There were even signs of “grassroots capitalism” in the form of a grand market selling everything from blouses to fruit. But try to take a picture and you’re toast: After being “half-wrestled” to an office, Guo was questioned for 6 hours and forced to write an essay praising the Korean people—before returning to his 5-star hotel. Still, the trip showed a country “farther from imminent collapse than we in the West have hoped.”