Grace Tu

Grace Tu

Saturday, November 20, 2010

North Korea Adventure V: Maybe you truly are happy 北韓之旅之五: 也許你真的快樂

The first thing we felt when we arrived Pyongyang was that the whole city was gray and desolate. In this biggest city in North Korea almost everyone was dressing in the same color and nothing and nobody was eye-catching. But the tourists seemed to be the only ones who felt uncomfortable about it.

On the main street of the city: two people, a bicycle, a car.

Every subway exit seems to be the hip place to hang out in Pyongyang. But still nothing exciting. The most noticeable was the billboard showing North Korea soldiers and Flag of the Workers' Party of Korea

We were not allowed the opportunity to ride the trolleybuses. Given the power shortages that happens so often in the city, there are plenty of delays. People on the bus were again in similar clothing

And then we saw a group of students in uniforms, singing, marching, waving flags.

When I was in high school in Taiwan we all had to wear uniforms, carry the same backpacks, and we were only allowed short hairs. We all looked like dorks but I never had to worry about wearing better clothes, carrying the more expensive accessories, or having the most fashionable hair cut.

Now I look back and it’s hard for me to make sense of how we did it. But if I focus my memory not on how I looked but how I felt, I have to be honest and say I was truly happy then. Without the image created by what money can buy, we learned to see each other directly and simply as who we are.

I am not saying that I want to be one of them when I saw everyone down the streets of Pyongyang dressing in similar colors and in the same type of coarse cloth. I sympathized with them not being able to afford any nicer things. But I can try to imagine the slightest possibility that they are somewhat happy, since they could ask for nothing more.

Without the same background, I will never be able to tell exactly how they feel unless they tell me just exactly how they feel.

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