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tv   A Postcard from Pyongyang  Deutsche Welle  July 13, 2020 11:15am-12:01pm CEST

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being that money even though the tournaments had to be canceled due to pandemic guidelines the finals for this year's edition of wimbledon ridgeley due to take place this weekend. that's all we have time for i'm brian thomas for the entire news team thanks so much for being here and don't forget there's always our website and social media from. a middle and i'm good welcome to the 2nd season of on the fence the planet on the brink of disaster we did long in-depth interview experts about one question how all of the changes that the only reason.
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in 2012 the world's press was full of reports about north korea dictator kim jong il had died in december 2011 and now everyone was wondering what north korea would be like under the leadership of his son 28 year old kim jong un. an old asian proverb says seeing with your own eyes is better than hearing a 1000 reports so in early 2013 my friend philip and i decided to visit north korea the 1st challenge lay in actually booking the trip. we normally plan our trips abroad ourselves but individual tourism doesn't exist in north korea even booking the entry and departure arrangements are to. with by
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a state agency. before entering the country we had to sign a paper declaring that our visit had no journalistic purpose. we had to get permission if we wanted to take photos and film and sound recordings were forbidden . all the following material was shot on a camera with a built in video function. i hid the blinking red recording light with black sticky tape. we were only vaguely aware of the hot water we might end up in but we still wanted to smuggle as much footage as possible back to germany. but then we still hadn't really worked out what to do with it. there are several ways to get to north korea we decided on a 25 hour train journey from beijing to pyongyang.
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when we arrived in pyongyang we were met at the station by 2 guides they were to be something like our guards for the next 7 days. young yang has 3000000 inhabitants and only 2 hotels for foreign visitors we were booked into the choreo hotel. it looked like we were to be given a private guided tour of the nation's achievements we would be driven from door to door and not allowed to go out without our guard. pollutants do you have your client tickets flights back to germany yes your kids.
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yes it appears from pyongyang to beijing. ok and here from beijing to munich. didn't look you will not need to hospitals within north korea if you want to does it when you have a north korean guide you don't need a possible so you can go anywhere but you are not allowed to leave the hotel without your guides as. i said i do. i can show you all the places of interest. and that is what we will do just if you get through this. there was a lot of excitement in the hotel lobby it was the 27th of july 2013 victory day. many international guests have come here especially for this event it marks the end of the korean war which lasted from 1950 to 1953. the fighting was brought to a close by the signing of an armistice agreement. but
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north and south korea are technically still at war. according to south korean media reports this was the 1st time that victory day had been celebrated with a military parade since 1903 with thousands of soldiers marching past and driving by in tanks. horribly of gasoline.
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vehicles with loudspeakers had been driving through the city all week. even. took some getting used to north korea's armed forces were. ha ha. ha ha. ha.
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ha. ha night we were always alone in the bus because we had booked an individual trips because that means we had the whole tour bus to ourselves apart from our on the present minders anything not to speak to north korea get support from the world hunger relief organization have you heard that is a true. schol. nearly all developing countries getting help. but i don't really know a lot of them he doesn't play such a big role looking at the 6th fleet. i don't know where world hunger aid actually operates from. i don't know where the whole people live on. at least a few months he didn't mean you don't see them now no. we soon realised that
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conversations of this kind were barely possible. whenever we started our discussion with one of our guides the other one would often jump in and stop it. and we got the feeling they weren't only keeping tabs on us but also on each other of course we couldn't ask that at least not if we wanted to leave the country in one piece with our footage. once we got back home we asked dr who to get proc a professor of east asian economy and society at the university of vienna about it if anyone can explain how north korea works it's him this in north korea as it was mentioned you might also notice that one hour in north korea people who deal with foreigners are rarely able to do so alone but always at least in pairs and the whole point of this is mutual surveillance they both also have to write reports about their encounters with reports of them compared and checked to see if there are any inconsistency so that you can never be sure whether you as
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a north korean who has had contact with a foreigner have gone unobserved that is also a very effective system of self-censorship. north and south korea are separated by the so-called d.m.z. the demilitarized zone on the way there we hardly met any cars coming toward us which wasn't surprising because nobody can cross the border in either direction anyway. do you do those use the demilitarized zone is a 2 kilometer wide strip on either side of an imaginary demarcation line in other words a 4 kilometer wide strip of stretching about 250 kilometers across the korean peninsula from one coast to the other it was created to guarantee the ceasefire in the korean war and is now still the defacto border between the 2 koreas. given as this clear
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creek is. at one point you can walk or drive through the d.m.z. and get directly to the demarcation line zones do you know there are the sky blue barracks where cease fire negotiations took place in 1951 to 53 and way talks between both sides is still taking place today for the border runs right through the middle of these barracks so you have a kind of neutral area so to speak. where officials can talk to each other without officially having to enter each other's country know. those on the line. but we still didn't really understand how reunification was supposed to work. what did the citizens of this rigidly socialist state with its on the present leadership cold imagine a unified korea would look like. would it be a capitalist country. did you know that when south and north reunite we wanted to be one nation and one government with 2 systems that we want our own
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sovereignty and a peaceful reunification bringing together the entire nation i know not soon einstein supplies to 2 systems socialism and capitalism to governments just. to give. thanks of consent if you think it could work it's done to the ins with this to just listen to me he could work in fact it has to. i think it can work because nobody will be oppressed so i'm saying i can everyone can own their own property just into the south korea can remain capitalist and we can still be socialist but both united. and you think it will. be best for a force to have a good you imagine relinquishing socialism in the interest of reunification of the verdant ones as it is could you imagine that you understood that if you didn't have it it will foster. just about legible to the new but it's just hypothetically as
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and often a force just an idea hostile to. this man's acts. and they're good. since you define it you would reunite but you would have to go of socialism in order to be reunited all students and stuff about it 1st would you do that which was to me my own so no. do you believe south korea would ever adopt socialism to become one nation again it's a decision. you don't manage to have a month. our question went on answered nobody had overheard our conversation and our watchdog had only expressed loyalty to the regime nevertheless a new guide turned up in the evening if we could only assume that the old one had decided to avoid us. that was a bit odd because in fact we got on well with our guides we even found out about
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their private lives. i said being on the road with tourists for up to 2 weeks at a time must have been exhausting and inquired how they coped with it. one guy had said his marriage had collapsed so the job actually suited him. another told me about his 4 year old daughter we missed and who like my niece like disney films basically the same discussions we had at home. but at least we could get a personal glimpse into north koreans every day lives. the u.s. air force dropped an estimated 450000 tons of bombs and more than 30000 tons of napalm on north korea during the war some 90 percent of pyongyang was destroyed you can see the scale of the devastation in today's cityscape. we berliners may be
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familiar with socialist architecture from east germany but pyongyang looks like a combination of the 1970 s. and some futuristic science fiction vision. at 1st glance we couldn't make out any sort of social infrastructure at all and would have been lost without our guides which wasn't the sort of thing we normally experienced. once we were back in berlin we talked to philip morris who is an architect and also the editor of the architectural and cultural guide to pyongyang. young is an instance he fought in quickly out before the korean war young yang was a homogeneous old sitting in the creek is the in the man who has but after the war they changed the entire city beyond all recognition and vanity completely sweeping away the old structures would. be an ownership rights one a problem because the state on everything anyway i mean is the best kind of a plan of the moment this was great for the city planners who could finally plan
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things the way they want to create utopias. so that's what happened here these narrow winding alley that's replaced by wide main roads and modern all 2 story buildings that. architecture and ideology are inextricably entwined in north korea beyond yang's new urban design took its orientation from the tate on the river and laid down myriad axes connecting the most important monuments by line of sight. the most important visual access links the so-called grand monument of monsoon hill with the one commemorating the foundation of the north korean communist party. summary street is the city's main artery. it connects the victory arch with monsoon hill. and the symbolic center of pyongyang kim il sung square. from
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there you can look across the river to juge a tower in the eastern part of the city. symbols of the kim dynasty as personality cold are everywhere. again we came across portraits. figures or statues of the 3 generations of supreme leaders. i mean have you down to a statue. in this respect our visit to the 20 meter. hill was an absolute highlight. the deep.
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so we saved ourselves the trouble of questioning. and did everything we were told to do after all it was strictly forbidden to film the knowledge of the guides. so we didn't want to attract any unnecessary scrutiny. but it's ok don't point. he. just. for. greg will lay the flowers there please and come back to us then we will bounce together i i i. in addition to kowtow ing you also have to buy a bunch of plastic flowers each time you visit frequently fake pink or red orchids
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later we noticed the flowers were collected up and brought back to the stand to be sold again. i was. i. next stop kim il sung's square which covers an area of 75000 square meters and is used as a parade ground it's an incredible amount of open space in the middle of the city. numerous small white dots and numbers have been painted on the ground so that everyone knows what to do during a parade. if you look across the river you can see the tower the monument to north korea's official cult of self-reliance. 170 meters tall it commemorates the great achievements of the country's 1st supreme leader kim il sung who's founded the jew
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che ideology in the fifty's now it has grown into a quasi religion and the deceased cams are worshipped like deities. as you can imagine the jew che ideology is at the very heart of the north korean system it also gives its name to the calendar used here which is calculated from the year of kim il sung's birth. the school to give. and i said your religion i am in my side here in myself yourself do you believe you need a melody and a chorus and all you see i'm actually christe but they're not the best cross probably go with me for that's the most boring us believe the call to christian communities what's in the east let me close here scott it's what you know country we believe to idea ok so you know kind of the church ids it's not
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a religion the only it is the religion it means many americans. have you read some of them. maybe many of them many are endangering the university of west just as in subjects is one substance ok ok so what does it say. our social east east the one that. is the one that initiate the church idea how socialism is our socialism is our own lives and it is men sentenced and she says it is just. a strange the owner of everything and your master and then what decides everything gets into the. yeah we have a similar history as your country and all countries who do flaunt relief tonight it's because of several what cæsar was released last christmas create what issues for the whole team i do know is sort of politics i'm not interested in politics
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invoking the economy with the idea it either is for a different message in what's in sunscreens kept in the east yes they only think about money but you know countries who kept essentially we want to think of our men here already leader our party but didn't care please please please what we didn't care of you only think of money so the idea is very different and economies are so difficult just different they maybe have it developed its i mean economy intimately and it's also korea and livingston that is much. well you are then honest if you think so it's high yes i think sylvia says how do you know how do you know i think we've a little bit of interest at times with her we've done that's the most curious route that what's for and what's not to be looked at but afterward maybe 10 years later it need to be looked at my watch and you know what t.v. news and some foreigners say that's the sense for a trip to the teats what's economy i think i think you're
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a very strong very measured thinker and that's made it clear to the labor where english interest rate managers are going to have time. off to our next appointment which was one of the most exciting of our whole trip. there was a huge crowd here and there was a lot of excitement in the air. 2 soldiers led some guy away obviously against his will. but there was no time to find out more because all wrong was starting. already wrong i
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have never seen such an impressive artistic performance. more than 100000 people took part in this display of dance and gymnastics. thousands of children in the terraces held up colored cards creating a sort of mosaic effect. then they all flipped them at the same time and formed a new pattern. the army wrong festival takes place in the ring grotto 1st of may stadium which is said to hold $100114.00 people and is the biggest in the world.
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arre wrong was one of the most incredible events we had ever seen we asked our guides how north korea managed to get everyone to join in and. to answer our question they took us to the so-called among young day children's palace the next day.
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among young day children's palace is run by the youth core of north korea and offers members of the young pioneer movement the chance to take part in a wide range of extracurricular activities some 4000 children attend its classes. schools like this play a crucial role in north korean education. we were taken to various classrooms or groups of children were already waiting for us . music sports dance arts and crafts the children
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some of them still quite young amaze us with their skills. thing.
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to do for. fun. i wondered if i would have ever been able to do that at that age and how much effort it took to achieve that level of perfection. but at least i now understand a bit more about why a child would want to be part of a huge human mosaic for several hours. i . i. feel.
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it didn't take us long to realize how hard it was to get any real idea of this country of staged super lives. we asked a lot of questions but could rarely choose the topics. that's probably why we left north korea feeling we knew even less than we had when we arrived. of course our experiences only scratched the surface of what life in north korea is really like. nevertheless i felt i was edging a little closer to an answer i could now sense a little of what it must be like to live in a totalitarian state where you can't express your opinions openly and have to play along out of fear of punishment in fact i was really relieved when i got on the
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plane back to beijing. filming in secret had been a huge strain but now it was lifted. i was left with so many deep impressions that would remain with me for a long time to come. it was an exciting trip but i didn't think i would be going back to north korea any time soon. not that is until i found out you could also run a marathon n.p.r. yang. after all i had recently been part of a team that had run through the desert from los angeles to las vegas running is my passion so why not a marathon in pyongyang it's the only way to get around the city without a chaperone. but this year growing tensions between
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north korea and the us threaten to prevent us from going back there at all. as we prepared to leave both countries were engaged in an aggressive war of words. so just in case we registered on the german foreign offices crisis preparedness website. when we arrive we meet our watchdogs for the next 2 weeks. yeah yeah yeah things yeah celebration of the green was really really not. a lot seemed to have changed since our visit in 2013 new residential areas had been built and pyongyang was no longer completely blacked out. at least not on the days before and after the marathon that's a new skyscraper there right wow it's huge the one with the lights in the back.
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the. very muted one. during our 1st night at the hotel i started to feel sick probably something i'd eaten in the past 24 hours. still we managed to visit the pyongyang subway it's the deepest underground railway network in the world. riding the subway in pyongyang as a highlight for every berliner at the end of the ninety's early and sold several subway trains to north korea and they're still in service today. i. i.
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i . on the escalator i notice a very pleasant contrast to our stations at home the lack of advertising. nothing was screaming out at us to buy things instead of advertising posters the walls were faced with a lab really designed mosaics although their color from 0 tepes were steeped in official propaganda. apart from the portraits of kim il sung and his son kim jong il the carriages were still in their original condition the windows still even had the scratches left by
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the removal of graffiti back in berlin the underground system was started in the late sixty's and now has around 30 stations during our visit i started to feel even worse and had an accident on the escalator i headed straight back to the hotel. oh kind of an issue though unfortunately this morning i had a massive stomach problem after breakfast in the seat of the modern policeman that's a solution could be when we went to the subway and that is down the escalator and i couldn't hold it any more and this gastro intestinal bug whatever it is has really hit me. the only problem is i'm supposed to run the marathon tomorrow i'll wait until tomorrow morning but it can't go on like this the most let's see what the night brings and.
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it was april 12th 2017 the day of the 4th marathon in pyongyang where foreigners could take part this year was special before the participants had to run for 10 kilometer laps around the stadium now for the 1st time the course took us 21 kilometers around the city and back again. but because of the bug my stomach was empty and i was really dehydrated. and. when we entered the stadium for the 1st time we saw a crowd of some 40000 had turned out to cheer us on. the
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savoy just yesterday i was still standing in the bathroom and couldn't hold anything in at all but today after 3 bananas and some toast i am going to try to run as a reasonable let's see how far i get divides coming. we
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left the stadium and ran past the victory arch. people were at the roadside cheering the runners on. i can only guess who was ordered to be here and who was here voluntarily. all that mattered to me right now is that they were here to give us. some support. kilometer 700 and i'm still doing ok. it can be different i've now got 16 kilometers behind me and i'm surprised i could take part at all. at about. that 12 kilometers to go well i'm already dead beat.
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by the 30 kilometer point the water supplies had run out as the 10 kilometer and half marathon courses followed the same route it was the last bottle of water i got for the rest of the race. by the time i got to the finish line i felt like i was drying out from the inside but there was no water there either. because. i usually rest after a marathon and try to do something good for my body and i especially needed to do
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that now but as in 2013 my 2017 trip was also crammed full of information and sightseeing stops so instead of going back to our hotel we grabbed our bags and set off on a 4 hour drive across the country. 'd our destination muzhik young north korea's only ski resort it's located in the east of the country. this modern hotel is part of the resort. in the evening we went to a nearby restaurant for a korean barbecue. after a few bottles of rice wine and
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a really nice dinner we asked our guides and the restaurant staff to sing karaoke for us. they performed our iran. the. longest and. our iran is the name of a folk song about a young woman who sings to her lover in the hope that he will return to her as soon as possible. it's actually a very normal story and of course it expresses the suffering of separation in this case between 2 people made a. difference which it's going to mention this concept but if you then apply it to the situation of the 2 koreas nowadays are iran creates a common ground based on
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a shared national identity it was the end of the minds of. of causes the skin minds of that is. very wrong is a very important symbol for both north and south korea. at the 2018 winter olympics in pyong chang it was the common anthem for the athletes from both koreas one of the biggest south korean t.v. stations is called our ear on t.v. and north korea has the our iran gymnastics festival that we visited in 2013. both are named after this old folk song. i was. at the box supermarket we got a glimpse into the lives of a small segment of the north korean population it's one of only 3 supermarkets
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selling foreign products mainly from thailand or china and you can only pay with the north korean currency the won that was different because otherwise we always had to pay in euro zor $1.00 was. the. food you eat the was. besides the supermarkets some other things in north korea seem to have changed too although we could only judge this via appearances in 2013 for example many houses in pyongyang were gray and infested with mold whereas in 2017 they have been painted in peach and turquoise hues. the people were also wearing brighter colors and
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a wider range of styles and we also saw more international sports brands in the street was weak. the larger portions of food also gave us the impression that things had changed since 2013 we even saw u.s. products on sale. not everything we saw in north korea was bad although of course there was plenty to worry about. but some things were really beautiful and some were just too good to be true. you could still feel the tension and sense that people weren't saying what was on their minds but sometimes it also felt strangely intimate. was it because we were together all the time or because i had like my guides regardless of the regime or their world view. i'm glad i've seen north korea for
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myself at least as far as the constant surveillance allowed. all the impressions experiences and encounters we brought home for the very reason we had to go there in the 1st place. is a master of the art of confrontation this is wrong measure and of for a bold comeback doesn't mean you're going to see doc's life the undisputed champion of so fine with the whole talk trying to frighten people no it's a fact everybody understands it except you enter the conflict zone enjoying tim sebastian as he holds the powerful to account this is a victory for you whichever way you like to spin the conflict zone. on t.w. . indeed of climate change.
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because he made us so. much eastern people. what ideas do they have their future. d.w. dot com african american cities in the making. could turn. green . leaves. his respect. thing each team. on the map. listening. last. respects.
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this is the news live from berlin victory for poland see euro skeptic presidents i'm sorry to that wins a 2nd time scoring a narrow victory over his e.u. friendly challenger what does the conservative win mean for the country's next 5 years also coming up off the shelf spike in new coronavirus cases south africa bans alcohol sales again we look at why the government is returning to such drastic measures. the coronavirus also ravaging crisis tourism industry that are.


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