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Chinese Perspective on North Korea

October 20, 2009

Those who have been reading my own blog posts on my trip to North Korea might find this item worthwhile.  Danwei.org has translated a few entries from another blog, this one by Rose Luqiu Luwei, a Chinese journalist who traveled along with the press entourage Premier Wen Jiabao on his recent trip to Pyongyang.  Rose is an executive news editor for Phoenix TV, and offers the perspective of someone who grew up in Mainland China.  You might find it interesting to compare her impressions with mine — I know I did.

Most of the “tourists” staying in our hotel in Pyongyang (and playing in the casino in the basement) were Chinese nationals.  Supposedly the two countries as “as close as lips and teeth” (as the Chinese saying goes), so many people have asked me whether Chinese visitors face the same restrictions Westerners do.  My impression was that largely yes, they do, and Rose’s report seems to confirm this.

A couple of things that caught my eye from her post:

  • She also noticed the surprising number of brand new luxury automobiles on the streets of Pyongyang, and the lack of people on the streets
  • How the people on the subway ignored her as well (she describes their expression as “slightly stupified”)
  • The obvious parallels between the Mass Games and the Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony, except North Korea’s version is much grander in scale

But her most revealing comments come at the end, when she talks about the political culture in North Korea.  It’s very interesting to hear a Chinese perspective on this, and what it shows is not just how much China really has changed in the past 30 years, but how much that change has been internalized in people’s attitudes and expectations.  That pane of glass I talked about in my last post, separating us from the North Koreans — it’s interesting that the Chinese feel like they’re on our side of the glass now.

For those who can read Chinese, you can read her entire series of Pyongyang blog entries here.

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