Longform’s Picks of the Week
The best stories from around the world.
Every weekend, Longform highlights its favorite international articles of the week. For daily picks of new and classic nonfiction, check out Longform or follow @longform on Twitter. Have an iPad? Download Longform's new app and read all of the latest in-depth stories from dozens of magazines, including Foreign Policy.
Every weekend, Longform highlights its favorite international articles of the week. For daily picks of new and classic nonfiction, check out Longform or follow @longform on Twitter. Have an iPad? Download Longform’s new app and read all of the latest in-depth stories from dozens of magazines, including Foreign Policy.
Adam Johnson • GQ
The odyssey of Kim Jong-il’s personal chef.
Soon there was another sushi party, with many shouts of “Toro, one more!” At its conclusion, Shogun-sama tossed Fujimoto an envelope, which landed at his feet. Whether Kim Jong-il meant the envelope to land on the table in front of Fujimoto or whether Shogun-sama wanted to see Fujimoto stoop to retrieve it is unknown.
“I was pissed,” Fujimoto said. “I refused to pick it up.”
Kim Jong-il stared at Fujimoto, his large glasses and jowls projecting his trademark Pekingese demeanor.
Fujimoto’s interpreter whispered in Japanese that they could be shot for this offense.
But Fujimoto can be a stubborn man. His temper, he says, is “in my DNA.”
Finally the interpreter retrieved the envelope and handed it to Fujimoto.
In it was a thousand dollars.
Over the next week, Fujimoto contemplated how close he’d come to death.
Mark Jenkins • National Geographic
On the dangerous glut of visitors looking to conquer Mt. Everest, where there is sometimes a two-hour wait to climb the Hillary Step.
An hour above high camp on the Southeast Ridge of Everest, Panuru Sherpa and I passed the first body. The dead climber was on his side, as if napping in the snow, his head half covered by the hood of his parka, goose down blowing from holes torn in his insulated pants. Ten minutes later we stepped around another body, her torso shrouded in a Canadian flag, an abandoned oxygen bottle holding down the flapping fabric.
Trudging nose to butt up the ropes that had been fixed to the steep slope, Panuru and I were wedged between strangers above us and below us. The day before, at Camp III, our team had been part of a small group. But when we woke up this morning, we were stunned to see an endless line of climbers passing near our tents.
Now, bumper to bumper at 27,000 feet, we were forced to move at exactly the same speed as everyone else, regardless of strength or ability. In the swirling darkness before midnight, I gazed up at the string of lights, climbers’ headlamps, rising into the black sky.
TSHERING SHERPA/AFP/Getty Images
When the Beautiful Game Turns Ugly
Wright Thompson • EPSN
A journey into the world of Italy’s racist soccer thugs.
Kevin-Prince Boateng comes into the posh drawing room in the AC Milan headquarters rapping Snoop Dogg. The word “believe” is tattooed on his left hand. Wealthy, engaged to a swimsuit model, he’s left behind a childhood in the Berlin slums. The 9-year-old him would be awestruck by the room in his house completely filled with sneakers, which he cleans carefully with toothpaste. But the 9-year-old him also has scars, ripped open that afternoon on the Pro Patria pitch, when strangers looked him in the eye and called him a monkey.
“It’s happened to me before,” he says.
He wasn’t Boateng then, just a kid named Kevin with a German mother and a Ghanaian father. During an away game, the father of an opponent said, “Little n—–, for every goal you score, you’re gonna get a banana.”
Boateng repeats those words sitting in the quiet, peaceful lounge. “It’s inside of me,” he says. “I will never forget the father. He had a big beard and no hair. I even remember his son. I remember the face of his son. I wanted to kick his son so hard. I didn’t. I scored a goal, and we won the game. This I remember.”
Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images
Michael Joseph Gross • Vanity Fair
Tracing a secretive cyber-war’s battles and casualties.
One of the most innovative features of all this malware-and, to many, the most disturbing-was found in Flame, the Stuxnet precursor. Flame spread, among other ways, and in some computer networks, by disguising itself as Windows Update. Flame tricked its victim computers into accepting software that appeared to come from Microsoft but actually did not. Windows Update had never previously been used as camouflage in this malicious way. By using Windows Update as cover for malware infection, Flame’s creators set an insidious precedent. If speculation that the U.S. government did deploy Flame is accurate, then the U.S. also damaged the reliability and integrity of a system that lies at the core of the Internet and therefore of the global economy.
Asked whether he sees this development as crossing a Rubicon, Kaspersky raised his hand as if to make a point, brought it back down to his chest, then put his fingers to his mouth and cast his eyes to the side, collecting his thoughts. In an hour-long interview, it was the only question that made him fidget. The response he settled on evoked the moral ambiguity-or, maybe, incoherence-of a cyber-warfare operation such as Flame, which surreptitiously did wrong for the sake of doing right. “It’s like gangsters in a police uniform,” he finally said. Pressed about whether governments should be held to a higher standard than criminals, Kaspersky replied, “There is no rules for this game at the moment.”
Patrick Lux/Getty Images
On Your Left, the Decline and Fall
Gareth Harding • Foreign Policy
A museum depicts Europe’s dystopian future after the fall of the EU.
The year is 2063 and the Friends of a Reunited Europe have organized the “first international exhibition on life in the former European Union” — which collapsed under the weight of its own contradictions in 2018. The show focuses on the last decade of the Union, when “prosperity and stability lulled Europe to sleep,” according to the mock “House of European History in Exile” pamphlet handed out to visitors. It was a time when “people everywhere used a single currency called the ‘euro,'” when “national borders were blurred” and Brussels, not Warsaw, lay at the beating heart of the old continent.
The exhibition, organized by the Royal Flemish Theatre, is housed in a derelict former boarding school several hundred yards from the headquarters of the European Commission, in the architectural wasteland of this city known as the “European quarter.” A slow but steady trickle of visitors trudges up two flights of rickety stairs to a lobby that looks like the waiting room of a regional Polish tax inspectorate circa 1974. The walls are clad in formica, the sink is filthy, the flatpack cupboards unhinged, and a neon light flickers overhead. A mousy receptionist hands me a lottery ticket with my assigned number and tells me my personal tour will start in 10 minutes. When my number is called out, I move to pick up an ancient audio guide but it’s stuck to the table. “Sorry, but it’s out of order,” says the receptionist, with a wry smile.
OLIVIER VIN/AFP/Getty Images
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