North Korea is far different from the way it is usually portrayed, according to a seasoned international traveler who has spent a fair amount of time there. From Joel Bowman at internationalman.com:
Joel Bowman talks to Kolja Spöri
Joel Bowman: Good day, Kolja. Thanks very much for taking the time to speak with International Man today. Where in the world do we find you right now?
Kolja Spöri: Merhaba, Joel! I am just in Istanbul at the airport, in transit to Munich, coming from Baghdad.
JB: Having literally written the book “I’ve Been Everywhere” (in German: Ich war überall), you certainly fit the bill as a true International Man. I imagine our conversation could go in many directions today, but I wanted to start with a particular trip you embarked on earlier this year that must have been quite eye-opening, even by your own standards.
When most people think of taking a vacation, they might imagine heading down to Florida, or the Bahamas, or maybe nipping over to Hawaii. You decided, instead, to opt for the decidedly cooler climes of Pyongyang, capital of North Korea. What inspired you to set off on an adventure to one of the so-called “Axis of Evil” countries?
KS: There’s actually warm weather and good surfing in North Korea in the summer! But yes, I have been a world traveler for a long time, both privately and on business trips. My goal became to visit every country in the world. It was just a natural thing that I would also visit North Korea on the way. North Korea is a good example where I learned that our Western view on the world does not always hold true, or at least the narratives that we are spoon fed from our Western media and our Western education system.
Fifteen years ago, I was in South Korea visiting the demilitarized zone in Panmunjom, from the south. And at that time, already 15 years ago, I had a feeling that something was wrong about the way I was taught to look at things. Now that I’ve seen the border from the other side, from the north, I have a much clearer picture of where I was wrong, and where maybe many of us are wrong in the West.
I want to make clear that I don’t defend the North Korean system. After all, I am an Austrian School Libertarian. But I use the small case study of North Korea to build a strong case against our Western regime.