Blog: Diane Sawyer on Daily Life in North Korea

ByABC News via logo
October 19, 2006, 8:40 AM

Oct. 19, 2006 — -- During our stay in North Korea, we visited the home of one of the country's celebrated athletes, and in this country, athletes are treated very, very well by the government.

We go into the living room, which is also the bedroom of the daughter, who's a championship figure skater. She shows us her photos.

We notice a couple of things: English on the pillowcase about love and family. We notice how tiny the closet is.

We head into her parents' bedroom, which is also small, and as everywhere, pictures of leaders of the country, including Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.

Next we head into the kitchen. It seems possible North Koreans eat so much less than anyone in the West can imagine. We're told that breakfast is rice porridge. We're told that dinner is rice again with a little bit of meat.

I ask if I can open the refrigerator door. In it, I find mostly water and also kimchi, pickled cabbage.

In another apartment we visit, we notice how meticulously clean this country is and everything has a cover: a cover for the fan and a cover for the television.

At another point in the day, we head off to one of the few beauty parlors in the country. We notice the wording under the sign is in English, which means a lot of this is for foreigners.

Inside, the smell of a permanent wave. The straight hair of the Koreans is becoming curly. Pictures of the dear leader and of possible hairstyles are on the wall.

Again, we show North Koreans a magazine with American clothes. We're told that Korean women prefer dark clothes, prefer simple modest clothes.

For a minute, a young woman looks through and seems a little startled. Then she decides she better look no more. She says to me, "Those clothes are strange."

Then we move on.