One rainy evening in August, we visited North Korea. Well, as close to North Korea as we probably were ever going to get. We were having dinner at Pyongyang Restaurant, one of a chain of restaurants throughout Asia owned by the North Korean government as a money-making venture and also, some say, as a way to launder money from their other, more unsavory businesses.
We swung open the heavy glass door expecting the full onslaught of North Korean propaganda – brightly-colored posters plastered with the smiling countenance of Kim Jung-Il, surrounded by happy children and bountiful rice harvests. Instead, we were ushered into a brightly (even harshly) lit, medium-sized room with brown tile floors and glass-topped tables. Artwork ranged from posters of the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper to drawings of traditional North Korean dresses. Dingy curtains blocked the view from the parking lot outside, and on the other wall fake vines and flowers were strung up decoratively. An enormous photograph of waves crashing on a beach dominated one wall. Our waitress, pretty and demurely dressed in a black skirt suit, handed us thick menus and poured out lukewarm tea.
|I still can't understand why the middle waitress decided to stand directly behind a mirrored pillar|
|The other tourists didn't hesitate to get up close and personal for some photographs|
And here's what you've obviously been waiting for: a taste of the evening entertainment!
When the show was over, we paid our bill, posed with the talent and left wondering what life could be like for these women, living in the Laos but still clearly under the thumb of the Dear Leader.
|Look ma, I'm in North Korea!|