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TorgoX (1933)


"Il est beau comme la retractilité des serres des oiseaux rapaces [...] et surtout, comme la rencontre fortuite sur une table de dissection d'une machine à coudre et d'un parapluie !" -- Lautréamont

Journal of TorgoX (1933)

Friday August 08, 2003
08:49 PM

Il Juche

[ #14011 ]
Dear Log,

Ignatz found this long but fascinating article, "Journey into Kimland":

«[...]After exhausting our music collection we next got to talking about money. Not salaries, but actual bills and coins and how they looked. As foreigners in North Korea we were forced to use a separate currency reserved only for tourists and visitors (a policy that's reportedly been changed). For young Mr. Huk some of the bills and their pictures we had were new, and he seemed to enjoy the chance to look them over. We also showed him some of the Chinese money we had from our time in Beijing. In return they gave us a chance to check out some of their "real" North Korean currency.

It was then that I remembered I had some South Korean change sitting in my bag. I dug up a 50 won coin and showed it to Mr. Baek, who was sitting in front of me. He curiously looked it over for a bit and then handed it back. Just then Mr. Huk, who'd been talking to someone else, happened to turn and see the coin. Thinking it was from China he held out his hand to take a look, while simultaneously asking where it was from.

When I reached over I saw Mr. Baek's eyes go wide in anticipation. As I went to drop the coin into Mr. Huk's hand I said it was from the South. He jerked his hand back like I was pouring acid. His whole body literally recoiled at the presence of the coin.

"No thank you, I do not want to see it."

With that he turned away, visibly shaken at my affront to his sensibilities. Mr. Baek gave me a grin and told me I'd better put the money back in my bag. Certainly quite different than the reaction one received when handing over dollars...

[...]As we approached the 'shrine to foreign gifts to Kim Il-sung' we could see two honor guides on either side of the door. A door the local guide warned us not to touch without first donning gloves. We were instructed to select a member of our group to don the ceremonial gloves. He would then have the honor of swinging open the heavy doors. Ah, the amazing delights of travel in North Korea...

[...]The next room contained more gifts from the South, including a Hyundai Grandeur donated by the former chairman of Hyundai (whose family is originally from the North). Mr. Huk asked me if I had ever seen one of these cars during my time in the South. When I said, "sure, my neighbor has one just like it," he gave me another one of his 'you have to be lying' looks. How could such a great gift, a gift implying so much respect, belong to some normal person like my neighbor? This was obviously a car reserved for the elite, capitalist oppressors, not some common car for the masses.[...]»

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