In early June I was able to spend three days in North Korea as part of a World Vision delegation. Christianity Today Magazine published my report earlier this month, and it’s finally up on their website, http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2009/august/27.48.html.
I’m no expert on North Korea, but then, who is? I’m not sure the CIA knows what goes on there. It was a fascinating chance to glimpse a totalitarian state. From what I’ve read I suspect China was something like this under Mao, and Russia under Stalin. The level of control is astounding.
One oddity that didn’t fit in my report was our encounter with the Iranian soccer team. Our hotel was practically deserted, and we rattled around in its marbled spaces. Then we noticed some tall, handsome young men walking around. They were Iranians, come to play a World Cup soccer prelim. Their coach, it turns out, was recently hired from Pasadena, California. He had coached the son of Bryant Myers, a former World Vision leader well known to our delegation. So there we sat in Pyongyang with the Iranian soccer coach, talking about what a wonderful family the Bryants are. I think this can be filed under the category of “small, bizarre world.”
Here are a few extra pictures.
The white-haired guy is Dean Hirsch, WVI president and my good friend. Note our heroic pairing under the heroic statues. Pyongyang has the best collection of monuments I’ve ever seen. They should export monuments instead of military hardware.
The little girls in red entertained us at a school with an amazing performance. We also saw the best circus/high wire/gymnastics show I’ve ever seen, anywhere. Certain performing arts definitely get a strong boost from the General.
The ship is the USS Pueblo, our spy ship captured in 1968 and still on display as a sign of American aggression.
At sunrise from my hotel window you can see the Juche Monument. (The heroic statues pictured are at its base.) From the top you get a panoramic view of Pyongyang. Note that the roads have no cars on them. The whole city feels ghostly, with few cars and not that many people visible.