Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Potemkin Village visit to Li’l Li’l Kim’s North Korea for Sophia Schmidt, daughter of Google exec.

By way of this story via the UK’s Telegraph, we learn Schmidt accompanied Bill Richardson:

…The story has this to say about the blog post:
In particular, it fleshed out the main photo-opportunity of the entire trip when they visited an e-library at Kim Il-Sung University, and chatted with some of the 90 students working on computer consoles. "One problem: No one was actually doing anything," Schmidt wrote. "A few scrolled or clicked, but the rest just stared. More disturbing: when our group walked in... not one of them looked up from their desks. Not a head turn, no eye contact, no reaction to stimuli. "They might as well have been figurines," she added. can find ones way to the blog itself via the story,and find more from Schmidt’s Blog, along with pictures taken during the visit. Be sure to peruse the whole thing:
Ordinary North Koreans live in a near-total information bubble, without any true frame of reference. I can't think of any reaction to that except absolute sympathy. My understanding is that North Koreans are taught to believe they are lucky to be in North Korea, so why would they ever want to leave? They're hostages in their own country, without any real consciousness of it. And the opacity of the country's inner workings--down to the basics of its economy--further serves to reinforce the state's control. The best description we could come up with: it's like The Truman Show, at country scale.
Yes, but far less benign. Maybe a better pop-culture reference comes from the world of Trek. Feeling a bit like Jim Kirk touring Tantalus V eh Sophie?

Hey, at least she's no Walter Duranty about it. Eyes wide open.