Джин - шеф сеульского бюро Ассошиэйтед-пресс (Associated Press (AP) с 2008 года. С января 2012 года она стала ещё и - по совместительству - шефом нового, пхеньянского бюро. Она единственная из американских собратьев-журналистов имеет свободный доступ в КНДР.
Текст ниже может показаться поверхностым, общим (я бы сказал sketchy) - такие можно клепать десятками, не выходя из сеульского кабинета. Тем не менее, он написан в Пхеньяне, на основе личных наблюдений и написан от души - видно, что автор неэкзальтированная и разумная дама. Это видно и по интервью, которое она дала в прошлом году http://iamkoream.com/. Похоже, у неё есть пара преимуществ, которых нет у большинства других западных журналистов, пасущихся на корейской ниве - она этническая кореянка, и она, думаю, способна понимать то, что говорят окружающие её люди...
PYONGYANG GLITTERS BUT MOST OF NKOREA STILL DARK
By JEAN H. LEE
The heart of this city, once famous for its Dickensian darkness, now pulsates with neon. Glossy new construction downtown has altered the Pyongyang skyline. Inside supermarkets where shopgirls wear faux French designer labels, people with money can buy Italian wine, Swiss chocolates, kiwifruit imported from New Zealand and fresh-baked croissants. They can get facials, lie in tanning booths, play a round of mini golf or sip cappuccinos. Nearly 2 million people are using cell phones. Computer shops can't keep up with demand for North Korea's locally distributed tablet computer, popularly known here as "iPads." A shiny new cancer institute features a $900,000 X-ray machine imported from Europe. Pyongyang has long been a city apart from the rest of North Korea, the showcase capital dubbed a "socialist fairyland" by state media. But a year after new leader Kim Jong Un promised publicly to bring an end to the "era of belt-tightening" and economic hardship in North Korea, the gap between the haves and have-nots so far has only grown with Pyongyang's transformation. Beyond the paved main streets of the capital, life remains grindingly tough. Food is rationed, electricity is a precious commodity and people get around by walking, cycling or hopping into the backs of trucks. Most homes lack running water or plumbing. Health care is free, but aid workers say medicine is in short supply.
For decades, North Korea seemed a country trapped in time. Rickety streetcars shuddered past concrete-block apartment buildings with broken window panes, chipping pastel paint and crumbling front steps. But since 2010, as part of the campaign to build a new city for their new leader, Pyongyang has been under construction. Scaffolding covers the fronts of scores of buildings across the city. Red banners painted with slogan "At a breath" - implying breakneck work at a breathless pace - flutter from the skeletons of skyscrapers built by soldiers. Often, the soldiers are scrawny conscripts in thin canvas sneakers piling bricks onto stretchers or hauling them by hand. In 2011, they set up temporary work camps along the Taedong River, makeshift shantytowns decorated by red flags. Their work focused on downtown Changjon Street, where ramshackle cottages were torn down to make way for department stores, restaurants and high-rise apartments. Today, the street would not look out of place in Seoul or Shanghai. Indeed, many of the goods - Hershey's Kisses, Coca-Cola and Doritos - on sale at the new supermarket were imported from China and Singapore. "What is a `delicatessen'?" a North Korean asked as a butcher in a white chef's hat sliced tuna for takeaway sashimi beneath a deli sign written in English. Upstairs, baristas were serving Italian espressos, bakers were churning out baguettes and white wedding cakes.
One new Changjon Street resident, Mun Kang Sun, gave The Associated Press a tour of the apartment she and her husband were granted in recognition for her work at the Kim Jong Suk Textile Factory.
A framed wedding portrait hangs on the wall above their Western-style bed. There's a washing machine in the bathroom, an IBM computer in the study and a 42-inch widescreen TV. AP was not allowed to visit other apartments to compare whether the furnishings are typical for Pyongyang residents. Orphaned as a child, Mun said she began working in factories at age 16. She earned the title "hero of the republic" after exceeding her work quota by 200 percent for 13 years. She says she accomplished that by dashing around the factory floor operating four or five machines at once. "When we heard the news that we'd get a nest where we can rest, and we got the key for our apartment and took a look around, we were totally shocked because the house is so nice," said her husband, Kim Hyok. "It's still hard to believe this is my home; it still feels like we're living in a hotel." Though the apartment has faucets, old habits die hard. The bathtub was still filled with water, a bucket bobbing in the tub, as in countless homes across the country where water is pumped from a well, carried in by hand and used sparingly.
Life in the North Korean countryside would be familiar to South Koreans old enough to recall the poverty in their nation just after the Korean War. Indeed, into the 1970s, North Korea was the richer of the two Koreas. Today, newly affluent South Korea has the world's 15th-largest economy. In North Korea, meanwhile, two-thirds of people struggle to find their daily meal, according to the World Food Program. North Koreans acknowledge the devastating economic loss of the Soviet safety net in the early 1990s. But they blame the county's growing international isolation on the U.S., its Korean War foe, which has led efforts to punish North Korea for developing its nuclear weapons program. Pyongyang instead has turned to fledgling trade with companies in China, Singapore, Indonesia, Italy, Egypt and elsewhere. These joint ventures keep the shelves in the capital stocked with goods, computer labs filled with PCs, streets crowded with VWs, in spite of sanctions. For years, foreign goods and customs were regarded with practiced suspicion, even as they were secretly coveted. Kim Jong Un has addressed that curiosity by encouraging trade and by quoting his father in saying North Korea is "looking out onto the world" - a country that must become familiar with international customs even if it continues to prefer its own. Kim has not made it significantly easier for North Koreans to travel, channel surf or read travelogues posted online, but he is arranging to bring the Eiffel Tower and Big Ben to them in the form of a miniature world park slated to open later this year. The flow of cash and goods has created a burgeoning middle class in the capital. Pyongyang now has a parade of fashionistas in eye-popping belted jackets, sparkly barrettes clipped to their hair, fingernails painted with a clear gloss. At one European-style restaurant last week, a young couple on a date sipped cocktails topped off with Maraschino cherries and feasted on pizza, their cellphones laid on the table. At one beauty salon, the rage is for short cuts made popular by singers from the all-girl military Moranbong band who have jazzed up North Korea's staid performance scene with their bobbed hair, little black dresses and electric guitars. "There are so many young women asking to get their hair done like them," hairstylist Chae Cho Yong said.
While the differences between the showcase capital and the hardscrabble countryside are growing starker, one thing remains the same: the authoritarian rule and the intricate web of laws governing life in the Stalinist state. Even as they laugh, North Koreans calibrate their words. Criticism of the state and leadership is not only taboo but dangerous; when asked for their opinion, most people parrot phrases they've heard in state media, still the safest way to answer questions in a country where state security remains tight and terrifying. Very few have access to the Internet, cable TV, international phone lines. It's still illegal for them to interact without permission with foreigners, who are kept on a tight leash and discouraged from making impromptu visits to homes, shops, restaurants and offices. Around Chae, the cavernous barber shop was empty, not a single customer in the brand new swivel seats. An employee explained that most North Koreans are at weekly ideology study sessions on Saturdays, the only day of the week foreigners are allowed inside.
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