Dear Leader misses the show
By Jon Herskovitz
Being the leader of one of the world ’s most paranoid states can make a person, well, paranoid. So when guests to the New York Philharmonic ’s concert in Pyongyang arrived to very little security, it was obvious that North Korean leader Kim Jong-il wouldn’t be attending.
Foreign aid workers based in Pyongyang said that when they have attended an event where the Dear Leader, as he is called in state media, does appear, the North ’s massive security is very evident. Guards check all people attending, make sure no one has cameras or gets anywhere near the world’s first communist dynastic ruler unless they have been vetted well in advance.
The event was broadcast live in South Korea from a mobile broadcasting centre from Seoul to Pyongyang. According to one of the TV crew outside the concert hall during the event, the streets of Pyongyang were empty, as everyone was at home watching it on television. You see, living in Pyongyang is a privilege for North Koreans, and those who make it to the capital are affluent enough to own televisions.
One hotel worker told me: ”I watched the concert with my family last night. It was wonderful. ”
Jon Herskovitz is a Reuters correspondent based in Seoul.
Pictures by David Gray of Reuters