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I'm kind of obsessed with photos, stories, and documentaries about North Korea. I think it started with the story my (South) Korean roommate told about North Korean propaganda during a visit "reuniting" families that had been split apart during the war. The North wanted the family members from the south to feel that their families were better off in the North. The North Korean tourguides drove the South Koreans down a particular avenue that was very well kept and middle-class looking, beautiful and clean.  Everyone "living" on the street had a bicycle.... only no one was riding theirs; they were all walking them. And during the photo op, the South Korean journalists noticed that all the North Korean men's neckties were the same. It struck me as very transparent, this type of propoganda, and I've been fascinated every since.

So, anyway, I was watching this slideshow and was totally struck by this picture:

Here were my thoughts.
  • What is on the wall in the back left of the picture? Is it a punch card reader or something? Compare/contrast to the computer in the left foreground.
  • Is there no money for heat? Why is everyone wearing their coats inside?
  • It seems like this room is never, ever used. I can't imagine that the tables, desks, and walls would be that bare if this were an actual classroom.
  • It's like they pulled guys out of the mines, gave them a shower and a change of clothes, and told them to pretend they were doing physics experiments. Hell, the lighting in the room consist solely of outside natural light and bare 60w fluorescent bulbs embedded in the ceiling... I can't imagine that's enough light to do physics experiments.

Is there anything you see in this picture that makes it just a bit ... off?


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 19th, 2009 11:18 am (UTC)
You're not alone in your obsession. I find it fascinating, like a state that time forgot.

Have you seen this yet? -


A lot of the photos are from a couple of museums and show exactly that sort of transparent propaganda you're talking about. Some of it is also quite graphic though, so be warned.

There's some good stuff on Youtube from state TV too.
Aug. 19th, 2009 02:23 pm (UTC)
Also the reflection off the whiteboard makes the guy standing appear to have angel wings.
Aug. 19th, 2009 04:40 pm (UTC)
I don't know what the thing on the back wall is, but if you look closely it kind of looks like it's just the front of some machine that is now propped up against the wall.

It's NK - they don't have money for anything. No heat? Damn, they don't have electricity much of the time.

I guess it depends what kind of classroom it is. If it's college level I don't think it's very unusual. Most of our classrooms here are pretty bare because there are so many different classes sharing the same space.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
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