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There is plenty of weird things about North Korea, from the Orwellian loudspeakers that blast propaganda, the Kim-cult, their distorted versions of history, the forceful isolation of their people, and their obsession with slaughtering Americans as portrayed in their propaganda.

However, at the very least, the Kim dynasty is making a 1% effort to connect with foreigners and show they’re ‘not so bad’.

(Read: North Korea Uncloaked for a full recent report about the DPRK by an American tourist).

Recently (April 15th), around the time of the failed rocket launch, I participated at a ‘Friendship Fair’ held in a park near Pyongyang, loaded with beer and dancing. Many countries participated, including Americans and Japanese. The North Koreans separated the audience into red and blue teams and hosted various competitions that lasted all day.

In addition, talented Korean child-gymnasts performed, a marching band of lovely Pyongyang ladies made an appearance, and traditionally dressed Korean women posed with tourists. It was nice being at an event in Pyongyang that did not involve being force-fed Kim il-sung mythology. The vibe was more like a carnival or a renaissance faire. It also helped me to imagine what a free North Korea could feel like.

Does this indicate the beginning of a better diplomatic effort? It’s hard to say, considering this was the same week that North Korea once again boasted how they would reduce Seoul to ashes. The very conservative influence keeps the country swayed heavily toward their old tricks. But hopefully these types of events continue in a country that is desperate to bring in some tourist revenue to help feed the starving masses.

(Click thumbnails)

A performing girl at the Friendship Fair.

Pyongyang Marching Band

Some Western visitors compete.

More Westerners play.

Performing girls

Marching band

Children dance in panda costumes

Posing with a traditionally dressed North Korean woman.

Support my work chronicling North Korea and other places in the world by becoming a citizen photo-journalist yourself and purchasing a Canon Rebel t3i from my affiliate store below, and I’ll make a tiny percentage of the sale. Buying a good DSLR was one of the best purchase decisions in my life. Even with a cheap lens, I still produce great images on the t3i because this professional grade camera has such a good sensor.

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