Oct. 20, 2006 — -- North Korea: a land hidden in the shadows.
First, you see the incredible discipline, the eerie perfectionism of the children. At the same time, there are signs of a nation with no money: dark halls, few light bulbs, and rundown buildings.
But a family we visited are proud of their three rooms, walls covered with pictures of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il.
A few oddities: Korean bowling shoes, house slippers with rubber soles.
We also noticed that traveling through the streets, we never once saw an obese person. We never once saw a dog or cat either, for that matter.
Here's how we lived as journalists: very well, from our hotel rooms to our work space. In the dining room every night, there were pork cutlets, if you wanted them.
But also every night, we experienced the arduous task of arranging the one phone line to set up a satellite that may or may not work.
For people used to high technology, we had no cell phones or faxes. It took a bit of chewing gum and rubber bands to try to get on the air. Not to mention the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of dollars they charged us for every single phone call.
And make no mistake, translating was hard.
For instance, I ask one woman if she likes curly hair. The answer? As she fluffed her curly hair, "No!"
What does that mean? What did the translator say? We never really found out.