Marquel, TPVs NYTimes East Asian Correspondent, was practicing his North Korean when he inadvertently read North Korea Detains 3rd American in New Threat to Relations With U.S. The man, a resident of suburban Dayton, Ohio, was accused of unspecified illegal acts while visiting the country as a tourist.
Marquel could not believe that Americans were still visiting North Korea, the home of anti American leaders and of…anti American leaders. There is not much else anyone knows about North Korea. Why people want to visit there, despite this rather admirable anti-Americanism.
And this habit of arbitrarily detaining us certainly should tamp down what can only be called North-Korean-touromania. On the other hand, Marquel read the article with a bit of shock. The Times claims that this is the third such arrest but of the two being held, one, a Matthew Miller, was not detained but has sought asylum in North Korea.
There was only one thing to do and that was to sneak in (and out) of enemy territory (we are still at war, never having signed a peace treaty with the North after the Korean War, which seems to have occurred sometime at the beginning of the eighteenth century).
It wasn’t hard getting in. A well known fishing boat makes almost scheduled, although surreptitious, trips to the North. I got on, closing my mind to all possisbilities, and the next morning we were in a bright sunny Communist wonderland.
There was nothing there. I went a ways. Still nothing. I finally found the town where the defectee/deteainee (depending on your belief in truth/New York Times lies) was supposed to be. I appeared somehow official, I believe, because I was the only person in town with funny eyes. I went right to his door and he was there. We had a discussion:
“What’s with the defection?” I asked.
“ I like it here” he said.
That had me stumped. I hadn’t seen anything for miles Nothing to like. In a way, it was not even a here. It was a nowhere. There is nothing, that I could see, to interest a tourist of any bent.
“What is it you like here?” I asked.
“Nothing,” he said.
“Then why risk everything to get here?” I said. “Even the State Department warns against coming here.”
“That’s because they don’t like nothing.” he said, I wasn’t sure out of illiteracy or intention.
“And you do?” I asked
“I love nothing. That’s why a sought asylum.” he said.
“So you did seek asylum, you weren’t detained against your will?” I asked.
“No, why do you ask?” he questioned.
“Well, everybody says you were being held against the will. Even yesterday’s Times had a story about it. They said you were being held here.” I explained.
“Hardly. I’d like to be held a little more, but I like it here anyway.” he said.
“Can you be a bit more specific about what it is exactly that you like in this country?” I asked.
“I already told you. There’s nothing here. That’s what I like. That’s what I love.”
“Correct me if I’m wrong, but what you’re saying is that you find North Korea to be the Seinfeld of countries?”
“Exactly!” he exclaimed. “This is a country about nothing. In a way it’s more the George Costanza of countries. It’s all about nothing, but millions wanted to see it every Thursday night. I want to see it the rest of my life.”
“Aren’t you afraid?” I asked.
“Of what? Were you ever afraid watching Seinfeld?” he asked.
“Only the time Kramer decided to practice full contact karate with that class of six year olds.”
“So you’re generally happy here unless you come across a karate class.” I said.
“A childern’s karate class.” he said. “And there’s a lot of them. But you seldom see some big goof wearing an oversized karate suit. So yes, I’m very happy in the George Costanza of countries, to use your terminology.”
“You said George. I said Seinfeld.”
“So why are all these other people coming to North Korea? There are three major tour companies in the U.S. organizing tours of North Korea which are literally packed.” I asked.
“That’s easy. Everybody wants to see it.” he said.
“Yeah,” I said, “to see nothing.”
“You’d be surprised.” he retorted.
“One thing more. You know they are really anti-American here.” I reminded him.
“A lot less than back home,” he said cryptically.
I left him there, in his little hut and his funny round eyes. People watched me leave, and I made my way back to where the boat left me. I had to rustle through some shrubs. When I stopped the shrubs were still rustling. I froze. From all sides armed North Korean troops emerged from the greenery. One approached me and asked for my papers. I of course had none. Not even my handwritten press pass. It would not have gotten me out of this scrape. It was hopeless as was I. They took all I had, which was just my Android. They tried to use it but it wouldn’t connect in North Korea. Then they checked my contacts.
Suddenly the most important pointed at the phone and said in perfect English, “What’s this?”
I nervously approached him and looked at what he was pointing at. One of my contacts. “One of my contacts,” I said.
“You know him?” the soldier asked.
“He’s my best friend,” I said.
“You know Mufi?” he repeated.
“Well of course.” I said.
“Prove it,” he said.
“Tell me this,” he said, pounding his index finger onto the screen, “what does Mufi rinse his noodles with.”
“I can’t tell you without Mufi’s permission,” I said.
He looked at me. “I will kill you if you don’t tell me.”
I said, somewhat stupidly, “If you kill me, then I’ll tell you.”
“That makes no sense.” he said.
I knew that but I didn’t know what to say.
Finally, he looked at me and asked, “you willing to die to protect Mufi’s secret recipe?”
“He’s my best friend.”
He approached me and I was terrified. He put both arms around my torso and squeezed. “Good friends,” he said, “are hard to find. Go back to Mufi.”
I fairly fled through the underbrush and found the fisherman waiting for me. George Costanza land? Soomething happened there, and it wasn’t nothing.
BY MARQUEL: Marquel’s North Korean Misadventure