National Geographic : 2013 Oct
116 national geographic • october 2013 read it. A guide at the Grand People’s Study House, a musty Pyongyang monolith, sees the book as proof that American women are poorly treated. A Kaesong bureaucrat, a haughty man with a fading bluestriped tie, sees the book as a Marxist morality tale. A woman with a trou bled marriage tells me she discovered strength in Scarlett O’Hara’s coldblooded tenacity. The book is entertainment and solace and inspira tion. It’s a window into America. It’s a celebra tion of a people who, like the North Koreans, are fiercely proud of fighting the Yankees. You can see that North Korean toughness in the middleaged women sitting on the ground on a frigid night, seemingly comfortable in cheap cotton overcoats as they watch a fireworks dis play. You can see the longing for knowledge in Pyongyang, where electricity often disappears without warning and where a latenight drive can find dozens of people downtown, standing under streetlights with newspapers and school work. Even after the bizarre mass rallies and the A man tends to his bicycle outside a housing complex in Kaesong, not far from the border with South Korea. An exclamation point at the end of an emphatic propaganda slogan punctuates the scene.