Tuesday, January 04, 2005


Rebecca MacKinnon points to an interesting story of a Chinese reporter who was detained while visiting and taking pictures of a hotel and casino in North Korea. The very existence of such a place demonstrates the complexities and contradictions of contemporary North Korea.

--The hotel boasts a website which contains the endearing English appellation: "EMPEROR HOTEL AND CAINO." The Chinese title "??" (yinghuang) rendered as "Emperor" is a curious one. It could mean either "glorious [or famous] emperor" or "English Emperor" (wow, my Chinese is getting rusty).

--The website boasts luxurious rooms complete with refrigerators and satellite tv. One wonders whether the North Korean maids sneak a peak at forbidden tv shows while they turn down the beds.

--The hotel also boasts luxurious saunas and a business center with a
"Fully equipped conference room, IDD, facsimiles, photo copyingplus multi-lingualcomprehensive secretarial services will satisfy all your business needs."
Again, one wonders whether the locals are allowed to avail themselves of these high tech gadgets. Moreover, what Chinese businessman is going to want to conduct business in North Korea when, if the Chinese reporter's experience is any indication, he
"didn't have his mobile phone to contact his paper or family as he had to hand it in at the border as mobiles are banned in North Korea."
and the soldiers who confiscated his digital camera had apparently never seen one before.

Such institutions may bring in some hard foreign currency but I can't imagine that it will help local morale all that much to see Chinese businessmen enjoying forbidden fruits in North Korea while all the locals are likely to be allowed to do is cook and clean for them.

Surely you don't think any member of the Worker's Paradise would ever think their Dear Leader would deprive them of anything that was good for them?

They probably see the rooms as a way to obtain foreign currency to expand their own country's power and influence... and besides, People's Security Officer Rhee is watching each room on his Wall of Monitors in the basement next to the boiler room...
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?