i have to believe somewhere, someone is trying a taco for the first time. someone is taking their first shower. someone is coming home to a new puppy.
i have to believe that this winter, someone new to snow will pull out a 5 dollar plastic sled and throw themselves down a hill, just to try it.
i think i'm probably lucky to be familiar with sunrises. i live in an area where the lightning bugs dance in their cocktail hours. i take chickadees for granted.
today i saw a tree that had changed to fall colors, and my first reaction was to grimace. i love autumn, but i hate the cold. i don't want it to be winter yet.
but how lucky, to live in a place where the leaves do change color - so bright and vibrant that people make treks from around the world just to look at what i grew-up-with. my mom's friend was a teacher in florida. she used to ask us to mail her an assortment of leaves, just to show her children - to prove to them yes, they really do turn yellow and orange and red.
last year i finally tried pumpkin spice for the first time. someone this year will find a new favorite knitting pattern. someone's favorite band will drop a new album. artists will make things we haven't yet imagined. there will be chalk drawings and magnet poetry and karaoke and recipes and laughing.
it is easy to forget. this was all new to me, once. and when it was - well, it was just all so easy to love.
i saw the trailer for the new feel-good “anti-racist” US war movie about the carpet bombing of North Korea and started writing up something for this blog, partially inspired by the absolute shit storm i got for sharing that post i made with pictures of everyday life outside pyongyang
and then i gave up, because what’s the point? westerners can’t even handle a single picture of a north korean not looking miserable without screaming propaganda
meanwhile, there are no stories about the horrors of life in the ‘hermit kingdom’ that are deemed too outlandish to be believable. i can’t remember who said it, but it’s like the entire country has taken up permanent residence in the western imaginary as some silly little cartoon villain, where the leaders of the country does evil things for no discernible reason. they’re just silly and evil like that, and the citizens, of course, are silly, too. silly and brainwashed.
i watched a video recently of a tourists visiting an auto dealership in pyongyang, and the entire time he was just gawking at the employees and costumers, shoving his phone in their face, and confidently explaining to his youtube audience that everyone he’s interacting with are actually actors.
what level of dehumanization do you have to reach for that thought to even cross your mind? to think that the people you see before you are actors? that entire cities and shops are erected with to sole purpose that you, a western, will see them and be impressed?
what frustrates me the most is the casual cruelty that seeps into any mention of north korea, no matter how small. if north koreans are not being evil, they’re being silly.
a north korean newspaper reports that a group of archeologists in pyongyang have discovered an old rock carving with the words ‘unicorn lair’ (mistranslated), and the western press reports that north koreans now believe in unicorns.
a tourist at a hotel in hamhung is told by the receptionist to be careful at the beach: the waves can get high. that day the tourists goes to the beach, and there are no waves. she retells the story to her instagram followers, explaining that the poor woman at the hotel could never have seen real waves before because north koreans are probably never allowed to travel.
she adds a little teary-eyed emoji.
one of the cities i included in the post was sariwon, a densely populated city to the south of pyongyang. below are some pictures from its “folk customs street”, which was built to showcase old korean traditions and customs
here’s all wikipedia has to say about it
Built to display an ideal picture of ancient Korea, it includes buildings in the "historical style" and a collection of ancient Korean cannons. Although it is considered an inaccurate romanticized recreation of an ancient Korean street, it is frequently used as a destination for foreigners on official government tours. Many older style Korean buildings exist in the city.
it’s just north koreans being silly again. there’s no mention of what might motivate them to build a street like that — why the preservation of old customs, culture and architecture might somehow be important for the city
could it perhaps have something to do with how the U.S. air force dropped 635,000 tons of bombs, including 32,557 tons of napalm, over the korean peninsula during the war? the carpet bombings, which are now the topic of an upcoming hollywood movie about overcoming racism through warcrimes, destroyed an estimate of 85% of all buildings in north korea. some cities were entirely wiped off the map.
in sariwon they missed a few buildings, but not many — after an intense firebombing campaign the U.S. military estimated the destruction of sariwon to be at 95%.
none of this is mentioned on the wikipedia page for sariwon.
we destroyed entire cities. memory-holed the entire thing, called it the forgotten war. and now, 70 years later, we’re convincing ourselves that the people living in the ruins are actors.
and somehow the north koreans are the brainwashed ones
my cousin gave the family less than a 24 hr heads-up that he was getting married today. sent via text message.
Which to be fair to him, that was about 12 hrs more heads-up than we got when his sister married and apparently 20 hrs more than my parents gave, and 24 more than I plan to give.
But. i am going to murder him for this.