Saturday, July 17, 2010

Transfer of Power

It seems pretty clear that Kim Jeong-il is getting ready to step aside for his son Kim Jeong-eun. Back in January, Jeong-eun's birthday was declared a national holiday (source: the AFP). Then in March came the sinking of the Cheonan (which granted is arguable, but either way suggests that THINGS ARE AFOOT in the DPRK), and now this: a shrine dedicated to Kim Jeong-eun. According to the article, the official hand-off may come as early as September.

The all-knowing Wiki cites a lot of information about Kim Jeong-eun (alias Kim Jeong-oon, alias "Yeongmyeonghan Dongji" ["Glorious Comrade"]) from a former private chef to the family, who goes by the pen name Kenji Fujimoto and occasionally appears on Japanese television specials as an "expert on North Korea." Tidbits include:

  • "Jong-un is 'exactly like his father'"
  • "He has superb physical gifts, is a big drinker and never admits defeat."
  • When Jong-un was 18, Fujimoto described an episode where Jong Un questioned his lavish lifestyle and asked, "We are here, playing basketball, riding horses, riding Jet Skis, having fun together. But what of the lives of the average people?"

Mr. Fujimoto has written a few books on his tenure as chef to the infamous Kim dynasty; one of them will probably be next on my library check-out list.

Mostly I'm posting this because there are hilarious comments in the Yahoo! news article. They're not hilarious for their insight or razor sharp satirical wit, however; they're hilarious in a way that also kind of depresses you.

From "RBT", a male in Cambridge, Mass:
I thought Kim Jong II son's name was " Mentally ILL ".

Hah! Hah! Hah! It's punny, get it? Hah!

From "I Voted Obama," a male from...somewhere:
Forget pissing off china, they have no oil, therefore little or no interest there.....

Clearly he is an expert on foreign policy, with such a nuanced, insightful view of a complicated political situation!

And finally, the

From "Richard," male from Texas:
has anyone ever found it hilarious that these guys are Asian, but have the name "Kim"? Kim!, lol, i've never heard of an asian with a english name! KIM! LMAO!

Really, the comedy just writes itself with this one.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

DPRK Alert: Trip to North Korea!

My friend Mark posted this on Facebook; I'm passing it along here for anyone interested.

2010 DPRK (North Korea) Tour

Saturday August 14th to Sunday August 22nd, 2010

Sorry about the short notice need to fill about 3-5 more spots....
I will be fantastic! Many places I haven't been...

Including: Pyongyang, (Mass Games, Mass Dance, ect.) Nampo, Kuwol Mtn, Sinchon Village, Sariwon, Kaesong, Mt. Myohyang and more

From Seoul via Shenyang (or Beijing) to Pyongyang

Guide- Michael Spavor email -

Kumsusan Memorial Palace, Pyongyang Zoo, Foreign Languages Bookshop, Moranbong Park, Funfair, City Walk, Mass Dance (expected)

Fountain Park, Mansudae Grand Monument, Mangyongdae Native House, Pyongyang Metro (extended ride), Juche Tower, drive to Mt. Ryonggak for picnic, Chonsam-ri co-operative farm, drive to Nampo, West Sea Barrage, to Hot Springs Guesthouse

Drive through Kuwol Mtns, Sinchon Village, Atrocities Museum, on to Sariwon, Tour around Sariwon (folk street etc), on to Kaesong, Concrete Wall
Panmunjom/DMZ, Return to Pyongyang Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum, War Victory Monuments, USS Pueblo

Grand People’s Study House, Korean Revolution Museum, Monument to Party Foundation, Senior Middle School, Railway Museum, Metro Museum, Drive to Mt. Myohyang

International Friendship Exhibition, Manpok Valley Hike Return to Pyongyang, Circus, Kim Il Sung University Museum

*flight / train may be changed from Shenyang to Beijing if flights trains not available.
*itinerary may change slightly
* Note: American citizen's are alowed but will not be allowed to take the train out, they must fly.

From Seoul to Pyongyang:
$2,500 USD per person
(Deposit for trip is $1400 USD)

Applications Due: Friday July 16th, 2010
Deposit Due: Monday July 26th, 2010

Once application is approved Bank Account Information in Korea will be offered.
These prices are the same for exit by train or by plane (option A. or B. in the itinerary)

Tour fee includes the following:
1. transportation from Seoul to the DPRK and back
2. all meals on the tour except on the train into/out of the DPRK
3. hotel accommodation
4. Korean tour guide(s) and a driver
5. all transportation in the DPRK
6. all entry fees for attractions such as museums etc in the DPRK

Not included in the tour fee:
1. single room supplement unless otherwise specified (EUR 30 per night)
2. spending money for drinks and souvenirs
3. DPRK visa fee (EUR 30 thru Beijing)
4. Double entry Chinese Visa From overseas Embassy / Consulate
5. tip for the guides (approx EUR 20-25 total)
6. meals on the train out of DPRK (EUR 5)
7. entry tickets for special events if applicable – for example Revolutionary Opera if being staged, or rides on the funfair, games of bowling
8. the lift up the Juche Tower has to be paid in the DPRK (EUR 5)
9. Optional Mass Games Tickets: Euro 80 100 150 300
10. meals will have a complimentary beer but you will have to pay for extra drinks above those provided (these are inexpensive though)
11. expenses while in Shenyang (or Beijing), China

For more information and application form contact:

Michael at

(Ground Operator: Koryo Tours)

** All subject to slight changes