By Michael Harrold
In 1987 Michael Harrold went to North Korea to paintings as English language adviser on translations of the speeches of the past due President Kim Il Sung (the nice chief) and his son and inheritor Kim Jong Il (then pricey chief and now head of state). For seven years he lived in Pyongyang having fun with privileged entry to the ruling periods and having fun with the boldness of the country’s younger elite.
In this attention-grabbing perception into the tradition of North Korea he describes the hospitality of his hosts, how they have been shaken via the Velvet Revolution of 1989 and the various attention-grabbing characters he met from South Korean and American GI defectors to his Korean minder and socialite pals. After seven years and having been stuck passing South Korean track tapes to neighbors and going out with no his minder to locations forbidden to foreigners, he used to be requested to go away the rustic.
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Additional resources for Comrades and Strangers: Behind the Closed Doors of North Korea
2 But the more important texts that were brought to me ^ sometimes translations of speeches made that very day ^ gave me a sense that there was some real responsibility in what I was doing. What the great leader or the dear leader had said might be picked up by the world’s media, although the first time I was given an urgent text to edit ^ Kim Il Sung’s speech to a meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement ^ I had to admit I had only vaguely heard of the organisation he was addressing. As for the main subject of 2 On the Art of the Cinema was published in Korean in April 1973.
It didn’t look much like the cosy little place with intimate alcoves suggested in the photograph in the guidebook. It was a square room with half a dozen Formica-topped tables. Nor was it filled with students. The clientele were families, with the children being treated to ice cream. We weren’t asked what we wanted. The waitress simply brought us two bowls of white ice cream, two chunks of white bread and two cups of black tea. It was terribly bland. Even so, Philippe assured me, for our fellow customers this was a rare treat.
The only sound was that of a waterfall, which splashed into a pool lit by coloured lamps. Before me, as I stood at the bottom of the 30 RED CARPET IN PARADISE steps, lay a lounge area of sofas and small tables, all of them empty. ’ asked the girl behind the bar. Her smile was captivating. She stared too, but unlike the people in the street she did so with warmth. ‘Another world,’ was the reply that came to mind. This, I thought, was a place where I could come for quiet reflection, where I could sit in solitude and try to make sense of the contradictions and resolve the dilemmas that were already a part of my life in North Korea.