Otherside of the Curtain
If is still exists anywhere then the border between North and South Korea could still be called an iron curtain. The Hermit Kingdom, as North Korea is often called, being one of the last remanants of that great communist experiment and a shining example of what went terribly wrong.
Truthfully I`m facinated by the place because it has all the “otherside” qualities that countries like Poland, Hungary and Russia held for me as a child of the 70s and 80s, before the Berlin Wall came down.
Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic once names as dark and enigmatic as any are now fond memories: I like the food, the vodka, the girls and the mountains of all these countries. I even contemplated moving to Poland once. It is still one of my favourite nations on the planet.
Russia I haven`t been to but would like to go. Russia, for me at least, still seems to be swimming in the dark and cold of cold war memories. I know it will be different when I get there but Russia as a name hasn`t changed the impression it has on me like Russians have. I meet Russians almost everyday and they are just like me. Russia is still a name that breaths coldly down the back of my neck. I think i will take a while to realise I`m actually there when I go.
I have, however, already been to North Korea…technically. I say technically because the two metres across the border inside the United Nations buildings at Panmunjom village in the DMZ don`t really count. But it was exciting to think that on the otherside of the door at the back of the room we tourists crowded into was this mysterious country of nightmarish poverty and excess; cruelty and colour. The US and South Korean soldiers that were showing us around made it abundantly clear though that if anyone of us attempted to get a bit closer to that door they would shoot us and in the unlikely event they missed the North Korean soldiers on the otherside wouldn`t. A humbling place definately.
I would love to go there for real oneday.
My wife would have kittens if I told her my ambitions because the Japanese are scared to death of Kim Jong Il. But there it is; oneday, when I have enough time and money, I will go.