Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Posted by Thomas Crampton

North Korea, exaulted member of George W. Bush's axis of evil, just invited me to a festival, but I don't think I can make it.

I have, however, attended three previous Kim Jong Il birthday party.

Based on my experience, I can say that Pyongyang shows a declining level of party sense.

The first I attended was the snazzy party at the Hong Kong jockey club in 2002

The pretty fancy birthday party in 2003

And the distinctly downmarket event party in 2005 (terrible wine!)

For the record, I crashed the party each time. The North Korean government didn't seem to like publicity about their luxury birthday parties while people were starved back at home.

Below is the invite to the festival in North Korea which includes 100,000 people in a synchronized dance!!


The grand mass gymnastic and artistic performance "Arirang" which was premiered on August 16 is going on before full audience at the May Day Stadium with capacity of 150, 000 in Pyongyang. A stream of working people of all walks of life in the capital and other parts of the country as well as the tourists from the all over the world is coming to the stadium to appreciate the performance. The current "Arirang" which depicts the Korean history, fully reflects the eight beautiful sceneries with a flawless masterpiece for the combination of music, dances, gymnastics and acrobatics consistent with deep national emotions and high artistic skills, rhythmic background scenes, peculiar stage settings, electronic displays, laser lightings and other representation means and elements. About 100,000 people consist of world prize laureates, skilled artists, acrobats, youth, students and children are participating in the performance.

After appreciating the performance, people do not stint their praise, saying that it makes them feel national pride.

More than 800,000 of Korean people at home and abroad and foreigners have seen the performance since its premiere.

It will go on until 17th of October except Sundays. In addition to enjoy the performance you will be also able to visit the historical places arranged by the travel agencies in Korea.

The cost of the performance
Special seat 300 USD
First standard 150 USD
Second standard 100 USD
Third standard 50 USD

The cost of the accommodation and the lodgings for 1 day (inclusive of local transportation, guide fee, sightseeing fee)

1 person 150 Euro
2-5 people group 116 Euro
6-9 people group 68 Euro
over 10 people 55 Euro

The duration of stay (Optional)
2 nights and 3 days
3 nights and 4 days

If you are interested please don't hesitate to send us your personal data and visa will be issued within 3 days after your application. Please don't miss the rare chance.

The Consulate General of DPR Korea


can I go instead of you? I could walk to Pyongyang by the 17th =)

Annyeong hikyeseyo,

Its a real tragedy that the Bush administration seized on the nightmarish and wholly terrifying situation in North Korea the way they did. Not that they are not evil.. if anything, they downplay the situation there.. seriously.. As you probably know..

But I find that nobody wants to hear about it.. why, because of the US administration plays their depressing game.. while never really doing anything that might make Kims position the slightest bit less stable.. Bush's stick what appears to me to be a somewhat transparent attempt to make themselves look good in comparison - but not kill the goose that laid the golden egg..(NK has been a godsend for US military spending) has clearly helped the North Korean regime blend into the noise of obscurity even as they continue to kill (in all probability) tens of thousands and perhaps even more of their hapless prisoners (citizens seems like an inappropriate word) a year.. given that people are not allowed to leave NK without being branded as traitors.

A recent report on the politics of food in North Korea - PLEASE READ THIS:

For some idea of what things are really like for the non-elite in North Korea, read some of the 'Witness Accounts' at

Thank you..


i very much agree with much of the thrust of your comment.

Too often what happens in these awful situations is that political issues cloud what really matters: The people who are actually suffering.

Dealing with nasty authoritarian governments can be tough.

I met a French/Vietnamese doctor last weekend who returned home after 30 years with a suitcase full of drugs for children.

A customs officer insisted on a bribe of 20 dollars. She preferred to destroy each lifesaving pill one by one (it took two hours of popping plastic packs) rather than pay a 20 dollar bribe.

Those drugs could have saved the lives of children. Was she correctly principled or overly idealistic? Or does all the fault lie with the customs officer?

What would you do?

Honestly, I don't know. I know myself, and stunts like that infuriate me - of course, the customs guard was hoping that she would abandon them, so he/she could sell them..

I might have done what she did, and then, later on, regretted it.. wishing I could give sick people them. Or I might have begrudgingly paid the bribe..

I think you are referring to the dilemma of providing food 'for North Korea'..

For a long time, I tirelessly advocated ballooning food into the closed areas of NK, via leaky mylar balloons.. (this random-dispersal method could work! - and it would create utter pandemonium in NK, which is I now suspect, something that NONE of the players want..despite what they say publically..)

I'm not doing that any more because I'm just burned out.. I need a rest.. The situation here (in the US) is already frustrating enough for me.. I want to help the people trapped in the real-world nightmare in North Korea.. but I also need to think about the usefulness of myself, an American, helping divert Americans attention from solving our own problems at home. Especially in seeing them clearly.

Obviously there are powerful people here who are flailing.. desperate for any kind of diversions. Its a classic mistake.. and it could thrust us into an utterly pointless war - (well, the point would be to get rid of Kim Jong Il, which would be good.. but what would we replace him with.. If anything was left.. And how would this effect Japan, China, etc.. Imagine millions of homeless on the move.. all blaming the US..

But I suppose it would divert the American attention for a while.. right.. You get my point? They might have us by the balls, but they are not really rational..

So, for a while, I think, this particular kind of HR activism is not as constructive as I'd like it to be.. I suspect that a lot of others who have been working on this cause feel the same way right now..

Not that either problem will solve itself..

But we can always pray.. We Americans aren't as dumb as we look..

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