north korea

Pyongyang Traffic, by Frühtau

The BBC is planning a radio service to N. Korea, and will have to navigate a landmine to do so.

The North Korean women’s soccer team arrived in Japan on Thursday for Olympic qualifying matches in what Tokyo called “an exception” to its entry ban imposed over Pyongyang’s fourth nuclear weapons test and a rocket launch.

The Angkor Panorama Museum, which opened its doors in December, is just the latest international project to be completed by Pyongyang's Mansudae Art Studio - one of the largest art production centres in the world. […] In recent years Mansudae has started taking its gargantuan socialist-style monuments abroad.

New planes, new in-flight entertainment options, smart new uniforms for the cabin attendants, even business class. It’s all part of supreme leader Kim Jong Un’s effort to boost tourist numbers 20-fold to 2 million by 2020 and supplement the nation’s meager foreign exchange.

North Korea today is known as the world’s most isolationist nation, an obdurate outpost of totalitarianism. [...] But the public spaces of Senegal, Ethiopia, Kenya and elsewhere are dotted with reminders of a long-running  often surreal charm offensive that was waged by the North as part of the Korean peninsula’s own Cold War. Since 1969, Pyongyang’s Mansudae Art Studio has exported statues and other monuments to at least 16 African countries.

The New York-based Human Rights Foundation and Forum 280, a Silicon Valley nonprofit, have teamed up to launch a program that will collect donated USB flash drives, load them with content ranging from "South Korean soap operas to Hollywood films to Korean-language versions of Wikipedia to interviews with North Korean defectors," and smuggle them into the North for ordinary North Koreans to enjoy.

Headlines this week in PD News showcased the convening power of cultural diplomacy. 

North Korean tour guides lead visitors through the regime’s latest cultural showpiece, a grand new panorama museum reported to have cost $24m. [...] Part grand design and part diplomacy project, the Angkor Panorama museum, which opened in December, is the latest cultural export North Korea hopes will bring in much-needed funds for its struggling economy.

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