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    September 4, 2017

    Day Three In The D.P.R.K. (a.k.a. North Korea) – August 16, 2017

    Due to the hurricane and southern California fires, my NBC World News episode did not make it to air.

    They said, “It could be recycled if Dateline wanted to pick it up.”

    So, yeah, no 15 seconds of fame, but that is the way life goes sometimes.

    However, I was quoted in a CNN news article: Postcards from the Hermit Kingdom: What Americans will miss in North Korea

    Now, on to the near conclusion of my trip to the D.P.R.K (a.k.a. North Korea, Best Korea):

    August 16, 2017

    We had to get on the bus early, as we were driving south to the DMZ.

    I should have brought my backpack down to breakfast with me because almost everyone on the bus was waiting for me – it takes forever to get an elevator in that hotel sometimes.

    Simon had to figure out who was missing and go get her – too much partying from last night.

    We managed to leave only a few minutes late, but our experienced driver made up for it.

    Propaganda mural in Pyongyang.
    The DPRK loves their leaders – there are murals and paintings everywhere of them.

    What I had noticed is that no matter which tour company you go with, when you get to North Korea, you end up with Korea International Tour Company, going on their buses and using their tour guides and going to the same places.

    I kept running across the “other tour company” with the person who threw me off the SCUBA diving trip.

    I saw her at the half way stop to the DMZ and she was standing alone.

    I went up and introduced myself.

    Whether she recognized my name, or ever remembered who I was or that she and the tour company committed egregious acts of national discrimination by throwing me off their SCUBA diving trip is unclear.

    However, I think she remembered my name.

    I said, “Well, too bad the SCUBA diving trip didn’t work out for Americans, but at least I made it here.”

    “Well, this is my last trip here, too,” she said.

    Yep, she is an American, and thanks to the US State Department and their travel ban to the DPRK, she can no longer do guided tours here.

    I thought Trump was suppose to be a job creator?

    It was at this rest stop that I handed the driver four packs of Camel filter cigarettes and Mr. Li six packs, as a tip.

    The drive to the DMZ took two and a half hours along the “Reunification Highway” – a pothole filled road of various widths that can give a bumpy ride if you’re sitting in the back of the bus.

    I saw some pretty skinny people along the way, but there was a mix of wealth.

    It sort of reminds me of Albania, you can see a car passing an ox drawn cart; however, none of them are Mercedes.

    When we finally reached the DMZ, we were let off the bus and lead in to a gift store to wait our turn to go on the tour.

    The DMZ.

    Our tour guides and Mr. Li had to leave their IDs with the military to proceed further.

    There were some North Korea soldiers walking around and laughing; they were saying in English, “Where are the Americans? Who’s American here?”

    Unfortunately, by the time I could respond, they already left.

    We were given a brief synopsis of the DMZ and how for the first time in the history of the United States we were defeated by a nation, by the Korean People under the wise leadership of Kim Il Sung.

    Monument at the DMZ.

    We got to see the signing room, where the Americans begged the DPRK for a ceasefire.

    Dear Leader Kim Jung Un spies on South Korea.
    Dear Leader Kim Jung Un spies on South Korea.

    North Korean Army leads the way.
    We were told, “Since this is the most intense place on the Korean peninsula, an Army man will accompany us for our safety.”

    The DMZ from the North Korean side.
    There it is – The DMZ from the North Korean side.

    Going to the blue DMZ buildings.
    We were lucky enough to go to the blue negotiation building, the only place where you can freely cross from North to South Korea.

    Border of North and South Korea at the DMZ.
    Border of North and South Korea at the DMZ.

    Inside the blue building at the DMZ.
    Inside the blue building at the DMZ.

    I was able to cross over to South Korea for a few minutes.

    The DMZ

    I was expecting the North and South Koreans to mad-dog each other at the border, but nobody was seen on the South Korean side.

    I asked why and was told, “The South Koreans are afraid of us, they are all hiding.”

    Apparently, the North and South agreed to share the DMZ by alternating turns.

    The North gets the DMZ in the morning and the South gets it in the afternoon – at noon, the North Koreans were to retreat and hide.

    Me with a North Korean army guy.
    Me with a North Korean army guy.

    The tour company made a quite interesting video of our DMZ tour, set to classic DPRK propaganda music and verbage…

    Youtube Video

    DMZ Video from the Tour Company, August 16, 2017

    We then went to Kaesong to visit a former Buddhist monastery, now museum.

    Officially, it is called the “Kaesong Koryo Museum” which displays artifacts from the Koryo Dynasty – the dynasty that united the Korean people until the US Imperialists split the country.

    Buddhist monastery in Kaesong

    Buddhist monastery in Kaesong

    The price of various slaves compared to the price of an ox.
    The price of various slaves compared to the price of an ox; young female slaves were worth more because they could produce more slaves.

    Diorama of an old Korean village.
    Diorama of an old Korean village.

    Me with a hot North Korean chick.
    Me with a hot North Korean chick.

    The gift shop.
    The gift shop where I scored a bottle of Ginseng wine, made in the DPRK.

    The University of Light Industry.
    The University of Light Industry.

    13 brass bowl meals with dog meat soup.
    Restaurant in Keasong – 13 brass bowl meals with dog meat soup.

    Yes, I paid $6 extra to eat dog – it tasted sort of like venison but a little sweeter; they put so much spice in the dog meat soup, it was hard to tell what dog tasted like.

    Here’s a video of the lunch.

    We then left to visit King Kongmin’s tomb that was raided by the Japanese Imperialists, I think during the 1930′s.

    Driving from Kaesong to King Kongmin's tomb.
    Driving from Kaesong to King Kongmin’s tomb.

    The tomb of King Kongmin.

    The Tomb Of King Kongmin.

    The tomb of King Kongmin.

    On the way back to Pyongyang, we stopped at the Reunification Monument.

    Reunification monument.
    The Reunification monument.

    Ryugyong Hotel
    The Ryugyong Hotel from a distance.

    Stopping for beer in Pyongyang.
    Stopping for beer in Pyongyang – “Cheers to friendship towards the DPRK.”

    The last meal.
    The last meal in Pyongyang for half of the group.

    The previous lunch was boiling in my colon, and there were no western toilets – just squat toilets.

    I grabbed a napkin and did the best to take care of business.

    I didn’t hit my pants – that was the key thing.

    I didn’t hit my pants!

    The last meal in the DPRK.
    The last meal in the DPRK.

    We partied at the hotel when we got back – DPRK Trip – The last Night – Part 30

    My journey home and thoughts on the trip will be coming soon!

    August 29, 2017

    Day Two In The DPRK (a.k.a. North Korea) – August 15, 2017

    I’ve been back for over a week.

    I have realized that some people think I am more crazy than they thought, some are not surprised, others don’t care, others now think I am a douchebag.

    I was contacted by Koryo Tours, who sent an email to all Americans on their last trip that NBC World News wanted to interview one of the last US citizens to vacation in North Korea.

    I’m an attention whore, so I volunteered.

    I talked to the producer for 20 minutes on the phone and she said she wanted to fly from New York to Los Angeles to interview me on Saturday morning.

    Borrowing a friend’s house for the filming location, I agreed.

    Being interviewed by NBC World News.

    They are doing a segment on the US travel ban to North Korea and wanted to hear about my trip and what I thought about the absolutely ridiculous and stupid ban.

    They said, “You are part of a segment, within a segment, within a segment of the news. If another news item is more important, like a hurricane or terrorist attack, your segment may never air. If it does, you may not make the cut. If you get 15 seconds, you will be lucky.”

    NBC World News - Greg, the cameraman, Producer Michelle and me.
    My friend Greg with the house was busy hitting on Michelle the Producer.

    Oh, yeah, and yesterday North Korea apparently fired a missile over Japan…

    North Korea launched missile that flew over Japan

    So, onto the continuation of my trip…

    August 15, 2017

    After partying heavily at the Yanggakdo International Hotel the night before, I was able to wake up in enough time to get a nice buffet meal in their restaurant.

    After being asked what my room number was before entering the buffet area, I thought, “How the hell would anyone sneak in here to get a free meal?”

    The Yanggakdo International Hotel is on an island, and you can’t leave the premises without a state approved escort.

    I assume it is just as hard for a white, English speaking transient to sneak in and get a free meal?

    What I had discovered, is that the food – at least for tourists – is pretty damn good.

    Yeah, it was a lot of sausage, fried meat, kimchi and odd stuff to westerners, but it shot through me like a rocket.

    I tended to take care of business right after breakfast and eat lightly when traveling – I’ll get to the lack of toilet paper and squat toilets next time, when I talk about my diarrhea.

    After all were accounted for on the bus, we made a trip to our first stop – the Grand Portraits of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il…

    Me with huge portraits of their Dear Leaders.

    They are very proud of their missile and nuclear weapons programs.

    They are very proud of their missile program.
    They believe if they didn’t have such a deterrent, they would have been the next US invasion victim like Iraq or Afghanistan.

    Me in Pyongyang - forgot what this is.

    I forgot where the pictures above and below were taken – sorry; somewhere in Pyongyang.

    Sorry, I forgot what this is - something important.

    Then we went to Mansu Hill Grand Monument:

    Out of respect, you are suppose to bow to the Dear Leaders once there.

    I was told by the Korean tour guides, “If you don’t want to bow and respect the Korean people you don’t have to, but just stay on the bus if you don’t feel like it.”

    Well fuck, I’ve participated in many Catholic and Jewish ceremonies out of respect, and I assure you I’m not Catholic or Jewish.

    And, I want no problems.

    Maybe I’m not limber enough to use a traditional squat toilet, but I certainly could bow to their Dear Leaders.

     Mansu Hill Grand Monument

    Me with the  Mansu Hill Grand Monuments.
    No hat, no sunglasses, hands down to the side with no gestures – all was good.

    These are the statues to the side of the Mansu Hill Grand Monument:

    Statues to the side of Mansu Hill Grand Monument
    The Peoples’ struggle over Imperialism.

    Statues to the side of Mansu Hill Grand Monument
    The peoples’ Army steps on an American Army helmet.

    Statues to the side of Mansu Hill Grand Monument

    We then went to the Pyongyang Metro to ride four stops to the Liberation Station and see the Arch of Triumph – a monument to celebrate the liberation from Japanese occupation in 1945:

    Pyongyang Metro.

    Pyongyang Metro - Kim Il Sung portrait.

    Pyongyang Metro.

    Pyongyang Metro.

    Inside the Pyongyang metro train.

    Another mural in in Pyongyang metro.

    Statue of Kim Il Sung giving the liberation day speech.

    Mural in Pyongyang station.

    Arch of Triumph.
    Me in front of the Arch of Triumph.

    The FIFA approved soccer stadium  in Pyongyang.
    The FIFA approved soccer stadium in Pyongyang.

    We then went on to Juche Tower – a monument that celebrates the vague idea of “self reliance.”

    Juche Tower

    Ryugyong Hotel
    The Ryugyong Hotel from the ground of Juche Tower.

    Juche stones/
    Stones dedicated from fans of the Juche idea.

    Selfie from Juche Tower.
    A selfie from the top of Juche Tower.

    Looking down on building from Juche Tower.
    Looking down on buildings from Juche Tower.

    Our hotel from Juche tower.
    Our hotel from Juche tower.

    The Intellectual, worker and farmer - what makes the Juche idea.
    The Intellectual, worker and farmer – what makes the Juche idea.

    Juche Tower.
    Me with Juche Tower.

    At this point in time, we were informed that because of the rain, the mass dance and fireworks were cancelled.

    I had no problem with that, because I was tired and had some digestion problems since I was not used to the Korean food.

    We were taken to alternate places like a shopping mall and bowling alley to fill the time.

    Lunch in North Korea.
    Lunch in North Korea.

    Pyongyang Bowling alley - the Dear Leader visited at one point.  I think.
    Pyongyang Bowling alley – the Dear Leader visited at one point. I think.

    Pyongyang Bowling alley.
    Pyongyang Bowling alley.

    We were not allowed to take pictures in the shopping center as previous picture taking bothered the customers.

    Most of us ended up drinking beer at a local watering hole right next door.

    We then headed for the Pyongyang Circus and then to dinner.

    Pyongyang Circus

    Pyongyang Circus

    I developed a bad case of the runs.

    At the restaurant, the bathroom had toilet paper, but no western toilets.

    I couldn’t hold it and did my best to use a traditional squat toilet.

    I was a success in that I did not hit my pants, however, I need to work on actually hitting the bowl.

    Buckwheat Black Noodle Soup
    Buckwheat Black Noodle Soup

    The long day ended with drinks at the hotel bar.

    I met two tourists – one from Italy and the other from Argentina.

    The bartender asked where we were all from.

    When I told her “The United States” she asked where that was.

    Someone said, “He’s an American.”

    She looked at me weird and walked away.

    The conclusion of my trip is coming soon!

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