Fear and Confusion in North Korea

The Safest Country on Earth

She is holding a microphone, big eyes staring straight into mine.

“Would you like to sing with me?” she asks.

I can’t say no, and as she leads me to a screen across the on-hill café I awkwardly try to retrieve my hand from hers to grasp the microphone. The music starts, and as the words fly across the screen I know I am utterly fucked.

The song is not just in Korean. The words on the karaoke machine are in Korean characters. Not wanting to offend, I try to replicate the sounds she is making. It rapidly disintegrates into a suicidal farce. Yet she somehow smiles her way through my awful screeches, and thanks me as the music dies away. Welcome to lunchtime entertainment while skiing in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)…

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