A Note on North Koreans on the Road

The North Korean women’s soccer team is in Dresden (a couple of hours from my present location) and has beaten the English team 3-0.

As the Suddeutscher Zeitung noted a few days ago, although the German government is paying all of the DPRK team’s expenses, and a great deal was made about the cultural exchange benefits of the North Koreans being in Germany, the team (as well as the men’s team, which is also in Germany) has either cancelled all of its exchange events or leisure trips, or just not shown up.  There was a meeting with an East German family that had hosted North Korean students back in the heyday of the 1950s, but no information was given about the family’s name or who they were meeting.

On a side note, my morning at the Beijing Airport (terminal 2) a few days back had me somehow inside a crowd of North Koreans going back to Pyongyang on Air Koryo.  I have never seen so much oversized baggage and such large wrapped boxes being checked in my life.  Two healthy young women, going home after a stint as waitresses in North Korean restaurants in China, seemed to be enjoying themselves in shepherding everything through, while the blazer-and-Kim-pin crowd stood around in good spirits.  In the middle of the immobile lines (the Koryo counters were totally, typically, empty) stood three Canadian guys on their way to Pyongyang along with one Japanese girlfriend, who had apparently somehow managed to break the taboo on travel by Japanese into the DPRK.

Bon voyage!  And good luck in the tourney.

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