Wednesday, May 02, 2007


According to a South Korean news report, members of a North Korean youth soccer team had all sorts of questions about life in the South. For example:
"What is the cross for?", one asks, and when told asks again, "What is a church?" The answer seemed to baffle them. When an official explained that many young South Koreans wear glasses because they use computers a lot, one team member said, "In North Korea, only few children and scholars who read lots of books wear glasses."
Take with the requisite usual grains of salt.

On the flip side, at a conference GWU hosted last week, Don Oberdorfer made the claim that one in ten residents of P'yongyang have radio access to the outside (with the number rising as high as 1 in 3 or even 1 in 2 along the border) and many watch DVDs produced in the ROK. He also relayed the account of a visitor to P'yongyang who was approached by a waitress in a hotel who proceeded to ask in hushed tones "Does Madonna really have AIDS?" These developments are seemingly difficult to square with the complete lack of knowledge expressed by the soccer kids. Perhaps the naivete is an act (of self-preservation)?

1 comment:

Sean said...

Were the athletes from the countryside? Perhaps there's a huge gap in knowledge between Pyongyang and the rest of the country. But I also doubt that these kids had never seen a cross. My mom went over to North Korea a couple years ago to observe religion in North Korea and she came back with all these pamphlets on North Korean State "churches". Of course, they're not like the churches you find here, but they definitely had crosses.