North Koreans love Mr. Bean

There’s a great photoessay on the Guardian‘s site today called Welcome to Pyongyang. The images come from a new ‘guidebook’ to the capital of the Hermit Kingdom, a look at the barren monuments where the rare tourists to the country are escorted. It’s fascinating stuff, and I was intrigued sufficiently by the book’s authors, Nick ...

601734_NKMassGames15.jpg
601734_NKMassGames15.jpg

There's a great photoessay on the Guardian's site today called Welcome to Pyongyang. The images come from a new 'guidebook' to the capital of the Hermit Kingdom, a look at the barren monuments where the rare tourists to the country are escorted. It's fascinating stuff, and I was intrigued sufficiently by the book's authors, Nick Bonner and Charlie Crane, to check out their regular business, a tour company specializing in North Korea. Bonner has apparently been running tours north of the DMZ for 15 years. In 2002, he and his colleagues produced a documentary about one of soccer's greatest upsets, the 1966 World Cup, when the North Korean team actually beat the Italians, who returned home to be pelted with tomatoes. Bonner traveled to the DPRK to find out what happened to the North Korean team, who lost in a later round. 

Foreigners' movements are notoriously restricted inside North Korea, and as much as I'd like to see Pyongyang, the idea of being led only to authorized places and not being allowed to speak with normal North Koreans sounds like a fairly awful experience. But I do like that Bonner and his group are doing a little bridge-building, at least when it comes to films. Last year, they worked with the British Embassy to bring over a number of British films for the first Pyongyang International Film Festival. Here's the North Koreans going nuts over Mr. Bean:

There’s a great photoessay on the Guardian‘s site today called Welcome to Pyongyang. The images come from a new ‘guidebook’ to the capital of the Hermit Kingdom, a look at the barren monuments where the rare tourists to the country are escorted. It’s fascinating stuff, and I was intrigued sufficiently by the book’s authors, Nick Bonner and Charlie Crane, to check out their regular business, a tour company specializing in North Korea. Bonner has apparently been running tours north of the DMZ for 15 years. In 2002, he and his colleagues produced a documentary about one of soccer’s greatest upsets, the 1966 World Cup, when the North Korean team actually beat the Italians, who returned home to be pelted with tomatoes. Bonner traveled to the DPRK to find out what happened to the North Korean team, who lost in a later round. 

Foreigners’ movements are notoriously restricted inside North Korea, and as much as I’d like to see Pyongyang, the idea of being led only to authorized places and not being allowed to speak with normal North Koreans sounds like a fairly awful experience. But I do like that Bonner and his group are doing a little bridge-building, at least when it comes to films. Last year, they worked with the British Embassy to bring over a number of British films for the first Pyongyang International Film Festival. Here’s the North Koreans going nuts over Mr. Bean:

Carolyn O'Hara is a senior editor at Foreign Policy.

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