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The human machinery of North Korean fantasy

I recommend this short illustrated talk given by an American academic (no: businessman – see comment) who taught at Beijing University and who went with his family on a trip to North Korea. Here is part of what he says:

This is a woman that was directing traffic with great resolve and military precision outside the front door of our hotel. We watched her for at least ten minutes, as she moved and rotated with complete control of her little domain, and we didn’t see a single car go by. [Laughter] I mean, you do have to wonder what they think. …

He then sees one of those giant stadium displays, done with thousands of big hand-held squares which keep changing.

This big display, which sat opposite most of the people is just a huge communist video monitor, one person per pixel. The resolution of this screen was about seventy by four hundred. The frame rate was one to two hertz, and you could get up to two frames a second, before muscle fatigue set in.

And then we see this screen in action. It is actually rather impressive, especially when you consider how much the poor bastards doing it probably get to eat each day. And they’re the lucky ones.

It often happens that people who report not on “the situation” in wherever it is, but simply on what they happen themselves to see, can supply an extraordinarily vivid feeling of what it must be like there. They don’t tell the whole story. But then again, they don’t pretend to.

Meanwhile, the latest “news” from North Korea, is that they are building a huge underground fighter runway, right near the border with the hated South, Thunderbirds style. It is supposed to be invulnerable to military attack. Fat chance. I wonder how many people will die while making it.

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7 comments to The human machinery of North Korean fantasy

  • Mark

    Wow. The comments on that Times article are true moonbattery. They could have been written in North Korea’s Ministry of Truth and Silly Walks.

  • The last toryboy

    Its about £1500 for a week “holiday” in North Korea.

    I’m actually very tempted… just to see the crazy with my own eyes.

  • Chris

    That’s not an academic–it’s Paul Koontz, a VC with Foundation Capital in Silicon Valley. He just happened to be teaching a semester of business at Beijing U.

  • Frederick Davies

    North Korean military engineers are completing an underground runway beneath a mountain that can protect fighter aircraft from attack until they take off at high speed through the mouth of a tunnel.

    I wonder what a couple of 1000-lb laser- or GPS-guided bombs directed just above the tunnel mouth would do to that complex. Turn it into a giant mausoleum for all its personnel, that is!

  • Nick M

    Frederick is right. Does Comrade Kim not appreciate that a major aspect of US military development in recent years has been on bunker busting.

    These sorts of people never seem to learn the fundamental lesson that the way to protect your airforce on the ground is dispersal. Comrade Kim, just rent Tora Tora Tora or have a chat to a 6-day war veteran of the Egytian airforce.

    Anyway, I somehow suspect the Nork airforce is hardly worth protecting. I mean it’s gonna be a bunch of clapped-out MiGs isn’t it?

    Perhaps it flatters their vanity to see all their little fighter jets all in a row.

  • I wonder what a couple of 1000-lb laser- or GPS-guided bombs directed just above the tunnel mouth would do to that complex.

    I think a Fuel/Air bomb(Link) would be better suited to create chaos within that type of facility.

  • Paul Marks

    Vast amounts of hard work and precision from intelligent people – made totally pointless by the basic principles on which the whole thing is based.

    It moves me more to sadness than to laughter – although I understand that some of these people (perhaps even the lady traffic cop) have been brainwashed into believing in socialism (i.e. they are not just acting out of fear) and would gladly eat my heart and drink my blood.