After enduring five days of stoic faced North Koreans held hostage in their Mao suits, it was comforting to discover that children are the same everywhere regardless of political indoctrination.
We’d certainly seen plenty of children during our tour of North Korea and nearly all of them were extraordinarily well behaved-much like their parents. But on our final day in Pyongyang as we were heading to the airport, we stopped for a few minutes at Kim Il Sung Square. It was the morning of October 10, and the city was gearing up for the Korean Workers’ Party Foundation Day–a national holiday celebrating the creation of the communist party.
It was rumored that a massive military parade was scheduled for later in the afternoon–long after the tourists had left. But in the morning, the square was reserved for thousands of unsupervised kids flying kites and playing games.
It was extraordinarily refreshing to see them running around and having fun. North Korea had seemed so sad and humorless during our stay and it left me feeling so very depressed. But here, right in front of our eyes, was a mass of childhood innocence not yet tarnished by the state. Sure, you’ll notice that many of the children are wearing communist red scarves and even Kim Il Sung pins on their shirts, but the weight of such a horrific dictatorship has not yet settled on their shoulders, thus freeing them from the shackles of socialist adulthood and allowing them to be just like any other happy-go-lucky child living on planet earth.
Yesterday: A North Korean History Lesson about the U.S.S. Pueblo
Tomorrow: Pyongyang Sock Hop