Welcome to the reboot of The Creamcast! From the studio of Popup Chinese, RFH and I welcomed Andray Abrahamian, Executive Director at Choson Exchange, and Simon Cockerell, general manager of Koryo Tours, to talk about all things North Korea -- spying, journalism, coffee, reunification, and whether animals cry (this was really a predominant theme).
The amazing folks over at the North Korea news and analysis website NK News are back with the second edition of their (hopefully annual) NK News Calendar, with pictures by award-winning photographer Eric Lafforgue. You can buy the calendar here -- and get $5 off by entering beijingcream as the coupon code.
A new North Korea travel app hit the stores today. Creator Chad O’Carroll, who runs the indispensable NK News website, told CNN that the app “is designed for armchair travelers as well as people who are actively interested in visiting.” Niche? For sure (though not as niche as targeting fans of Playboy who literally do “buy it for the articles.”) But does it have wider applications?
For the seventh consecutive year on Monday, the Chinese men's ping-pong team won the Swaythling Cup. (Apparently familiarity doesn't make the trophy any less awkward to handle.) It's the 19th time they've finished first at the World Table Tennis Championships, which was held this time in Tokyo. The Chinese women's team, not to be outdone, also won -- also its 19th team title at this worlds competition. The women have lost only twice since 1975.
Via China News: "April 13, 2014, Pyongyang, DPRK, Kim Il-sung Stadium hosted the 27th annual Mangyongdae Prize International Marathon to commemorate the late Kim Il-sung, Great Leader of North Korea. According to the Associated Press, this year's race was the first time foreign travelers were allowed to participate."
Dennis Rodman sang Happy Birthday to Kim Jong-un, who then watched as his country's basketball team beat Dennis Rodman's USA team on Wednesday in Pyongyang. That's according to Koryo Tours general manager Simon Cockerell, who reports that "the DPRK team emerged triumphant" in a 20-minute game, played as two 10-minute halves.
Pacman, Peso, and I recently returned from a 16-day Asia trip that included a five-day stay in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (as in America, the N-word is taboo in DPRK). This journey started in August when our record label, Forest Hills Tenleytown Music Group, launched a Kickstarter seeking $6,000 to fund the trip and a music video called "Escape to North Korea." With the help of a five-page feature in the Washington Post Style section and a generous $5,100 donation from James Passin (aka "The American Who Bought Mongolia”), we were able to raise $10,400 and get a lot of attention in the process. People actually cared, for some reason.
Swedish underwear brand Björn Borg have made good on a pledge to "love bomb" 450 pairs of underwear in Pyongyang. The company hired a "journalist" who went "undercover" and threw the garments from the 41st story of a hotel window.
We're a bit late to this, which is a shame, because the paintings sampled here are some really nice pieces of work by North Korean artists. As explained on the Koryo Tours blog, they were part of an exhibition called "The Beautiful Future" that, sadly, ended on October 3. (Surely they'll be brought out again sometime in the future.)
Dennis Rodman has returned from Pyongyang. No Kenneth Bae (of course), but Reuters reports he "spent quality time" with Kim Jong-un, and has pictures (above) to prove it. That's something. The hilariously mismatched friends apparently watched a basketball game, according to KCNA news agency.
Dennis Rodman arrived back in North Korea today for the first time since March, when he became the first American to meet Kim Jong-un since the marshal took power. Rodman was greeted at Pyongyang Airport by the Associated Press, to which he said:
If it bleeds, it leads -- and if it contains porn, firing squads and Kim Jong-un, play it up! (Whether it's true or not is a different matter.)
The Independent, a British newspaper, has managed to squeeze all these things into one glorious headline:
Kim Jong-un, who studied in Switzerland when he was a lad, enjoys skiing, so much so that he wants to build a ski resort in his home country. (Or is it because South Korea's getting the 2018 Winter Olympics and he can't be seen as falling behind?) Kim picked out a spot, ordered the military to complete construction by the end of this year, and has reportedly made multiple on-site checks. Everything appears to be going smoothly -- except one big, huge hurdle: international sanctions.
North Korea scholar Andray Abrahamian was rudely informed recently that his Barclays bank account, which he's held for 20 years, had been cancelled. And all because he works for a Singaporean non-profit that dares to engage North Korean citizens.
"Mr. Kim Jong Un! Channel 4 News, UK!” yelled the journalist at the back of Kim Jong Un’s head.
The Great Marshall stopped. He slowly turned and smiled, his visage a million shining suns. The room, which had been full of raucous cheers, came to a hush. In perfect English he replied, “Yes? How may I help you?”
Just kidding. That last part didn’t happen.