Watching the children of the Pyongyang Schoolchildren’s Palace perform was impressive, and after the show there was a lot of talk about how hard these kids had to work…then came a magical comment from Alexandra Kostiw, when she stated: “kind of reminds you of the Honey Boo-boo culture back in the States…”
Amid the laughter, an idea was born.
What are the role models of the kids in the DPRK and how do they compare to the role models for kids in the USA?
Reality TV has become one of the best exports of the USA this past decade (not quite sure that is a good thing to promote), and almost every Asian country has its youths (and parents) riveted to local reality shows.
So I figured I would take a quick look at three areas and see whether the kids from the USA or the DPRK are better equipped for the future.
Round One: Television ~ How TV influences children of both cultures
Considering that TV is perhaps the best educational tool ever created, and it looks like we are reaching new highs in quality programming with great shows as:
Unfortunately, TV programming is still in its infancy in the DPRK, they are only able to offer the following:
Pretty much one choice of propaganda in the DPRK. My guess is that while it is a little horrifying to have a daughter admire the stars of “Teen Moms”, at least in our hands is a TV-clicker that allows us to switch between the propaganda of FOX news and CNBC to Toddlers & Tiaras and Kim Kardashian.
As for the DPRK, since the electricity is cut most of the time, their children do not even get the educational value of TV. Instead, and this is rather funny, they actually have to read something called “books” and there are also utensils called “pens and pencils” where children have to actually write out the words on paper!
Can you imagine the quality of adults they will grow up to be with such limitations?
Clear victory for the USA!
Round Two: The Deification of Kim ~ How the myth of Kim influence our children.
Now this is a tough one.
Every place I go, be it in the buildings, on the subways, on billboards, newspapers and everywhere I look, I see photographs of Kim.
However, after a week in the DPRK, I saw almost as many photos of their Kim as I did our Kim, which probably why I felt so at home. This competition is too close to call.
Given that our Kim just had a beautiful baby girl named North West (no middle name), I say we make a deal with the DPRK. We give Ms. North West the middle name of “Korea” and then export her and Kim to the DPRK where they can star in “Keeping Up with North Korea Kardashian…” or better yet, the ultimate DPRK reality show: “Kim Vs. Kim”
During sweeps week, “Kim Vs. Kim” could have a great battle of egos where the DPRK holds their first democratic elections to decide which Kim stays.
Based on the photos alone, another win for the USA.
Round Three: Music ~ Music to Inspire our Children
The DPRK primarily has classical music. Mostly beautiful, but old Korean songs, with some European classical music as well. Their folk songs have lyrics that promote hard work, respect of women, study and taking care of the older generation. Not much else. Very old school.
The USA, well we have too much to choose from: Wheezy, Jeezy, Snoop Lion, Diddy, Dopey, Sneezy, Grumpy…well, you get the picture. And the lyrics..a great way for foreigners to study American English.
When a few DPRK youths asked me the best way to study American English, I just point them to the most popular hip-hop and rap albums and then an incredible website (www.gizoogle.net) that translates old-school English to something our modern youths understand much better. This is the very web site I use to communicate with my younger nieces and nephews these days.
For an example, the above paragraph I just wrote is translated by www.gizoogle.net as:
“When all dem DPRK youths axed mah crazy ass tha dopest way ta study Gangsta, I just point dem ta da most thugged-out ghettofab hip-hop n’ rap mixtapes n’ then a incredible joint (www.gizoogle.net) dat translates old-school Gangsta ta suttin’ our modern youths KNOW much mo’ betta n’ shit. This is tha straight-up wizzy joint I use ta communicate wit mah younger nieces n’ nephews these days.
Brilliant. Another win for the States.
Bonus Round: Basketball & Diplomacy ~ Sports/Politics and Children
During my time wandering around, I saw several pick-up basketball games with local kids and workers on the open courts of Pyongyang and Kaesong. Not a real hot bed of basketball talent.
However, in this bonus round, I say we play a 2-on-2 game with myself (6’2”) and Mr. Diplomat of the Year, Dennis Rodman (6’7”), and not only would we tower over those guys on the court, but Dennis could use his diplomatic skills and probably get them to hand over their “Air-Kim” basketball shoes as well.
Plus with a 15-course meal to share with Dennis’ new best friend Kim Jong-Un, I think the USA sweeps the series:
Strange, but given a choice between the USA educational system, crippled by tax cuts every year and getting worse, we soon may lose any advantage we have over such countries as the DPRK. It is very cliché, but “investing in education is investing in our future.”
Of course, there is no competition when it comes to intellectual freedom – and for that all Americans should be proud. We just need to make sure that we give enough resources to at least create a base for our children’s intellect.
FYI: one bizarre but brilliant educational plan for children, is sending them to a children’s summer camp in the DPRK. Being an American, my first thought of course was to combine this with a reality show of American kids visiting the DPRK. The summer camp program for international children is sponsored in part by our 51st state Canada (kidding). Information can be found at: http://www.pyongyangproject.org/ .
I couldn’t muster the courage to visit ‘gizoogle’. Sigh.
This one blew me away. I could imagine the deadpan expression on your face. Great job!
Thank you Meghna, it was fun to write. You should try ‘gizoogle’, it is a fun site – pretty harmless 🙂 It has a translator filter and has been around for awhile (2005), but still hilarious. Cheers!
If you say so.
Nice tongue-in-cheek writing. I enjoyed it.
Thanks Scott, fun to write although outside of e-mails to friends & family, not much of a comedic writer. This topic, however, was begging to be parodied.
This one is for the archives,lol. It’s almost a sin that I’m laughing, but I am..really!
I’m taking one thing away today, “create a base for our children’s intellect”
I think your general observations are not only so true,but seriously scary. A little biased on the points awarded methinks,just a tiny bit *winks*
way to go U.S.A.
Perhaps a little bias towards the USA 🙂
It was a fun post to write, although actually publishing it caused me some hesitation. Very happy you enjoyed it. Enjoy your week Dotta!
Finally finding time to read and comment! Ugh… I know that the US comes out on top in this one, and I do agree, but… Gosh, there are so many things wrong with what that means. We have a choice, but the sad thing is what too often that choice ends up being. Reality TV (what junk!), Kim Kardashian, Dennis Rodman… There are so many things wrong with this picture that make me feel a stranger in my own country. After all, how can I support *that*?… I’d agree that having the ability to choose is better than not, but, as you well said, neither model is ideal. 😦
Nice one!! Och I love Honey Boo-boo.. these American reality shows can be very addictive!
Regarding the Kims: both sides loose.
Really too addictive… Every time I return, I cannot help but get sucked into one of these shows 🙂
You are correct with the Kims, we all lose! Cheers!
Kim vs Kim… Now that would be one hell of a reality show 😛
I’d love to see it!
Haha to Kim vs. Kim 🙂 Gosh what a stressful program for the kids in DPRK…
Kids are kids, the most wonderful types of humans on the planet 🙂 The sadness with the DPRK regime is that they will never be free to chase what they really want (therefore never understanding/achieving hidden potential inside of them). But boy, they really were pretty funny and light-hearted which was great to see.
Yes, they are the most open minded and optimistic people around 🙂
Yes, so open minded that they cannot help but foster a bit of optimism to those around them… I do not know why we lose this as we age 🙂
I know it’s awful, I see these university students look so optimistic (especially the ones from outside of Spain) and sadly I think: oh you don’t know what you’re in for! Terrible of me…
Better to go back to thinking like a kid!
quite hilarious; the USA 4 vs DPRK 0
Outstanding indeed, and the Kim vs Kim show will rake-in reviews after reviews.
“investing in education is investing in our future.”
that is one fact i cannot forget.
good one, again.
Ha, ha…thanks Thandiubani, it was a fun post to write 🙂
Such an interesting comparison. I love your take on the two countries – and Kim vs. Kim. Fun and poignant.
Wow, what a brilliant and provocative piece! Sending it on to my family. Bravo~
🙂 That was fun ~
This is hilarious, Dalo. Thanks for the laugh.
🙂 You are going to love the DPRK, just don’t forget to pack your sense of humor and perspective, it is a strange place in so many ways.
“However, after a week in the DPRK, I saw almost as many photos of their Kim as I did our Kim, which probably why I felt so at home. This competition is too close to call.” – Hilarious.
🙂 The DPRK is almost like being inside a “Reality TV” show…but like places everywhere, it feels good to meet new, good people.
Such a good read, Dalo 🙂
I was doing a time travel through your blog and stopped here where I could see back to back posts of North Korea.
To be frank, I haven’t seen or read so much on and from DPRK, before these posts.
It is also interesting to see, how the world politics is shaping up, 5 years after this post.
Your blog is truly a treasure trove of images and information 🙂
Have a beautiful day 🙂
So great to hear from you Sreejith ~ I hope all is going well. Yes, the DPRK was one of the more unusual and interesting places I’ve visited. Wishing you a great weekend!
Thank you so much, Dalo 🙂
You too have a great weekend 🙂