Korea (North) V/北朝鮮 その5(2009/07/23~08/01)

Day 7 of the tour. As became routine, we boarded our bus right after finishing breakfast at the hotel, this time heading to Myohyangsan mountain some 170Km from Pyongyang. In the bone rattler we pressed on, until, finally after over half a day, we arrived in the Myohyangsan mountain area. First was lunch at NK’s premier hotel, the Hotel Myohyangsan. Here again can be found the regulation rotating restaurant. We were spared that, however, and dined in the cavernous restaurant on the second floor. Our severs were also all to-the-letter beautiful, young things. These waitresses even poured our beer for us, and at the correct angle and everything. The particular treatment we received here had all of our tongues wagging.

北朝鮮ツアー7日目。いつもどおりホテルで朝食をとったあと、バスに乗り込んで、平壌から170キロ離れた妙香山へ。ガタガタ道をひたすら進み、半日かけてやっと妙香山エリアへ到着。まずは、北朝鮮の最高級ホテル、妙香山ホテルで昼食。ここにも、お決まりの最上階展望回転レストランがある。でも、私たちが昼食をとったのは2階にあるだだっ広いレストランだった。サーブしてくれるのは、こちらもお決まりの美しく若い女性ウェイトレス。ここのウェイトレスは、ビール瓶の注ぎ口を使ってコップを斜めに傾け、器用にビールを注いでくれた。この微妙なもてなし(?)にみんな興味深々・・・。

Hotel Myohangsan/妙香山ホテル

Check out the pouring method

グラスが微妙に傾いてるのわかります?

Anyway, after lunch it was off to the bizarrely named (that is, until you enter) “International Friendship Exhibition Building”, which we were helpfully informed was built in 1978. This is a whole complex devoted entirely to showcasing every gift ever received from abroad by the never-ending President Kim Il Sung or the other guy, Kim Jong Il. There are actually two buildings: one for each Kim. It goes without saying that they are both of a gigantic scale, and both are done in style of oriental castles. As is only appropriate, we visited the elder’s castle first. The entrance featured huge, bronze doors, doors which apparently are not to be opened by anyone not wearing white gloves such as those of the women who let us in. By the doors were also two armed soldiers. Clearly, we were to understand the big fuss being made over security. Upon entering we were greeted by an all marble (coated?) interior. After depositing all belongings, including our cameras, we were led before a gargantuan statue of Kim Il Sung and beckoned to pray or something, and then to a seemingly endless corridor. The gifts are arranged in glass cases and divided by country of origin, but after being dragged about for more than an hour, patience was wearing thin. How disheartening then only to learn that we were in for yet another hour of being paraded before the gifts of the Dear Leader, Kim Jong Il.

昼食の後に訪れたのは、1978年にオープンした国際親善展覧館。ここは、故・金日成主席、金正日の親子に各国から送られた贈り物を展示している館である。建物は、金日成用と金正日用に2つある。どちらも巨大で、日本のお城にも似た、伝統的なスタイルの建物。まずは金日成主席への贈り物用の建物へ。入口にはこれまた巨大な銅製の扉。ここは素手で触ってはいけないので、専用の白い手袋をはめて開けさせてくれる。そして扉の前には武装した兵隊が2人立っている。なんとも大袈裟な警備だ。おそらくこれも演出だろうけど。扉の中に入ると、中は総大理石の内装。そしてカメラを含む、すべての持ち物を預け、まずは巨大な金日成像を拝み、長~い廊下を進む。贈り物は国別に分けられて、ガラスケースに収められているが、その贈物を1時間以上見せられ続けるという、非常に忍耐のいる見学地なのである。そのあとは、金正日への贈り物用の建物に移動し、また1時間以上も贈り物を見続けた。

International Friendship Exhibition Building/国際親善展覧館

Local guide/贈り物の説明をしてくれた現地ガイドさん

In the main the gifts were either frustrating commonplace or simply confounding. Lots of paintings, china, objet d’art, furniture, etc., and all of such a cheapness that calls into question the need for protective glass cases. Tops was the gift from Nicaragua: a stuffed alligator holding out a dish, as if a servant. Gifts “from Japan” were mostly things sent from Japanese Communist Party members of Diet, big wigs of companies with ties to NK, and persons connected with the Japan-Korea Friendship Association. Other trinkets include a camera from Antonio Inoki (former pro wrestler), and a piece of china from former Prime Minister Koizumi during the 2002 summit. It is said that the former Prime Minister was put in a difficult position when presenting the very duty-free-looking gift since Kim Jong Il, in accepting same, sought confirmation of the status of the piece as a Japanese National Treasure. Copy machines, cell phones and other devices sent by South Korean companies were also on display, despite being desperately needed items here. That was about it. All this notwithstanding, though, there were not a few domestic visitors here, and many who seemed to have come apparently on purpose. In the end, this place too is little more than a poorly veiled propaganda effort; this one intending to evidence (i) just how respected the eternal President and his son are throughout the world; and (ii) the magnanimity of rulers who rather than keep for themselves such treasures prefer to make same available to the People. Fail.

肝心の贈り物は、つまらないとはいえ、突っ込みどころは満載!贈り物としては、絵画、お皿、オブジェ、家具などいろいろだけど、ガラスケースに入れて、護衛をつけるほどでもない、安っぽい品が多くて、とにかく大げさ。一番受けたのが、ニカラグアから贈られた、器の乗ったお盆をもって立っているワニの剥製だった。日本からの贈り物は、共産党の議員や、北朝鮮と関わりのある企業のお偉いさん、日朝友好協会の方などからのものが多かった。アントニオ猪木が金正日へ送ったカメラ、2002年の日朝首脳会談で当時の小泉総理が金正日に贈った皿などもあった(現地ガイドから、小泉さんから贈られた皿はもちろん国宝ものでしょ、と聞かれて返事に困った)。韓国企業から贈られた、携帯電話やコピー機なども展示されていた。飾らないで使えばいいのに・・・。この展示館には、国内からの見学者も多い。金日成と金正日がいかに世界中の人々から尊敬され、慕われているかを物でアピールし、また、一般国民が見たこともないような立派な品物を独占せず、国民と共有してくれる寛大さもアピールしている、プロパガンダとしては最強の場所でございました。

Even the hairstyles are uniform

重要観光地の女性ガイドはみなこの髪型で統一してた

Next on the agenda something we figured would not be otherwise easily found in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea: a Buddhist temple, Bohyon Temple. It is a fantastic temple with a magnificent gate, huge main hall, 13 stone pagodas, and very well appointed grounds. There was also a priest on hand to explain features of daily life and practice within the temple. According to the guide, there is freedom of religion in NK, and of those who practice, followers of Buddhism are greatest in number. Surprising for a socialist totalitarian state, but then this empty temple devoid of any apparent of worshippers and just conveniently on the foreign tourist trail was the only evidence of such alleged freedom. I don’t know, but somehow I found it unconvincing that a one party, one ruler, one thought state would be such an enthusiastic supporter of ideas revolving around higher powers. Oh well, when in doubt trust the Party I guess.

次の見学地は、北朝鮮にはないと思っていた仏教のお寺、普賢寺。立派な門に、大きな本堂、十三重石塔、きれいに整えられた庭・・・とっても立派なお寺だ。お坊さんも出てきて、毎日の生活や修行について説明してくれた。ガイドに聞くと、北朝鮮では宗教の自由があり、中でも仏教人口が一番多いと説明された。この社会主義の独裁者の国で、宗教活動が許されているのが意外だったが、よくよく考えてみると、これはやはり外国人観光客向けに作られた、見せかけのお寺のような気がする。唯一思想の国なんだから、宗教の自由があるわけない。もちろん真相は労働党幹部のみぞ知る、なんでしょうけど。

Bohyon Temple/普賢寺

After that it was off to break a sweat whilst hiking about a mountain with a waterfall before returning to Pyongyang by bus. The last NK supper was grilled duck at a Pyongyang restaurant. The beef was really quite good, and so we topped it off with a last drinking session with the two guides and the other members at the hotel. The draft flowing, things were boisterous. And the more we imbibed the more we came to want to discuss, what else, NK. It was our chance to ask all the questions we up until then couldn’t bring ourselves to ask, and, in the end, to appeal to the rational side of the debate concerning the pros and cons of totalitarian socialism (assuming, for sake of argument, that there can really be any other kind) and democratic capitalism. The guide was having none of it, though, and made an early night of it. But then we didn’t need him because it wasn’t really a debate anyway. We continued and made a great night of it.

このあとは、滝が流れる山へハイキングで汗を流したあと、バスで平壌へ戻った。ツアー最後の夕食は平壌市内のレストランでアヒル肉の焼き肉だった。とても美味しい焼肉を堪能した後は、ホテルに戻って、ガイド2人とツアーメンバー全員で最後の飲み会。生ビールを飲みながら、みんなでワイワイ。だんだん酒が入ってくると、やっぱり北朝鮮の話になってくる。ガイドさんに、これまで聞けなかった質問をしたり、民主主義・資本主義の国の良さをアピールしたり・・・。ガイドさんは私たちの勢いに押されてしまったのか、早々に退散してしまった・・・。そのあとも、ツアー仲間と北朝鮮ネタで盛り上がり、とっても楽しい夜になった。

The last supper/最後の晩餐:アヒル肉のプルコギ

Guides, cameraman, and driver

お世話になった、ガイドさん、運転手さん、ビデオ撮影係のおじさん

Last night at the hotel/最後の宴

By way of nothing, did you know that in the elevators for the Yanggakdo International Hotel there is no 5th Floor? Mysterious, no? I and a couple other members thought so and aided only slightly by alcohol we decided to check out the missing floor by the stairs as there simply had to be something to it. Esshie was somewhat concerned that we might be caught and then permitted by the authorities to make true our dreams of staying permanently in the DPRK. No such luck though—we made it back without incident. Well, that’s to say we weren’t caught. What we did find was very interesting indeed. First, the 5th floor is unlike any floor of the hotel, it is all concrete, like a bunker, complete with steel doors. There are no decorations of any kind; instead there are propaganda posters. At that time all the strange doors were shut tight, but we were still able to stumble upon the most intriguing off all: in a corner there was a large pile of what appeared to be miniature cameras, as if awaiting repair. Cameras, lots of them, and well enough for each room of the hotel. I don’t think I need to spell it out for you, word for word anyway. Oh, and another member of our group reported that when he went at a different time one door was open and there appeared to be official-looking men before computers or machines of some kind and listening to something with headphones. Add it up and its chills down the spine.

ところで、羊角島国際ホテルのエレベーターには、5階のボタンがない。「これは怪しい」と思っていたダンと数人のツアー仲間は、5階には何かあるに違いないと、酔った勢いで階段を使って5階へ行ってしまった!最後の夜になって、捕まったらどうするのさ~~!!と心配していたが、無事に部屋へ戻ってきた。ダンによると5階は、他のホテルのフロアとは全く違って、カーペットも敷かれていないし、ドアも重そうな金属製。ホテルらしい装飾は全くなくて、壁に貼っているのはプロパガンダのポスターのみ。そして、床の上には、監視カメラらしきものがたくさん積まれていたらしい。怪しい~~~。おそらくこのホテルは全室盗聴されているだろうし、いろんなところに監視カメラがあるはずだから、5階はその本部?それとももっと本格的な諜報機関?最後の夜になって、背筋がゾクッ~としたのでした。

1, 2, 3, 4, …er…6?/5階がない・・・

Day 8: last day of the tour. We said good-bye  to the Yanggakdo International Hotel, and made our way by bus to the “Mansde” Memorial. We already came here on our first day and so just decided to hang back in the bus. After that the whole troupe made for Pyongyang Station, where we parted with the guides. By the way, since we were advised to do so by the travel agency that arranged this trip, we did dispense tips to both of the guides, the driver, and the camera man before leaving, after collecting equal amounts and wrapping the tips up so that they could not confirm the amount before we left. Why? Because the English guide, Mr Chang would just not stop pestering the leader by default of our group, Sofia, not to “forget” to tip, even going so far as to indicate the “proper” amounts for everyone. Contrast the German-speaking guide, Mr Kim, who, at least by the accounts of the member from German-speaking countries, in addition to having a superb command of the language was a very easy-going person.

8日目、北朝鮮ツアー最終日。羊角島国際ホテルにサヨナラし、バスで金日成の巨大銅像がある万寿台(マンスデ)大記念碑へ。ここは私たちが1日目に訪れた場所なので、他のメンバーがお花を買って巨大銅像を見学している間、私たち2人はバスで待機。その後、平壌駅に向かい、そこでガイドさんともお別れ。ちなみに、ガイドさん2人、運転手、カメラマンには、お礼のチップを渡すといいですよ、と旅行会社から言われていたので、各自が同じ額ずつ出し合い、渡す相手ごとにまとめてしっかり包み、出発前にそれぞれに渡した。こうすれば、貰った方は誰がいくら貰ったか、お互いにわからない。英語ガイドのチャンさんは、私たちのツアー仲間内で姉御的存在だったソフィーに、前もってチップを、しかも額まで指定して、支払うことを忘れないようにと何度も念を押していたらしい。そのがめつさがちと気になったので、別々に分けて厳重に包んだというわけ。ちなみに、私達はあまり話す機会がなかったドイツ語ガイドのキムさん、ドイツ語圏出身のメンバーによると、彼のドイツ語は非常に流暢で、しかも北朝鮮の人間とは思えないほど話やすい人だったそうだ。彼とも色々話してみたかったな。

The flowers-for-foreign-Imperialist-Aggressors racket

ツアー仲間を待ちかまえる花売り娘

Foreign Imperialist Aggressors buying flowers

お花を買うツアー仲間たち

Locals laughing at foreign Imperialist Aggressors buying flowers

それを眺める平壌市民

We then all piled into the train bound for Beijing. Until the border we had a mini banquet of sorts in the NK “dining” car. After 5 hours we arrived at the station near the border, where exit and inspection formalities were carried out for several hours, just as when we entered. But when we entered we hadn’t just before been downing NK brews like there was no tomorrow, and we must have forgotten that use of the facilities is a no-no during border formalities. Esshie had it really bad in particular, but all pleas to the female official fell on deaf ears. With the next male official to come, we all joined in and he eventually caved, allowing Esshie to use the toilet in the station. Not so inflexible after all, nice even.

北京行きの列車に乗り込み、列車が出発。国境までは、北朝鮮側の車両にある食堂車でミニ宴会。5時間後には国境近くの新義州駅に到着した。入国時と同じく、この駅で数時間停車して、荷物検査&出国手続き。停車中は車両内のトイレにはカギがかけられて使えないが、私は食堂車で飲んだビールのせいか、急に死ぬほどトイレに行きたくなり、女性の職員にお願いしたが、全然聞き入れてもらえなかった(ムキ~ッ!)。次にやってきた男性職員(おじさん)にも、皆で一緒に頼み込んだら、渋々だけどOKしてもらい、なんと車両から出て、駅舎内のトイレに連れて行ってもらえた。まさかこんなに融通を利かせてくれるお役人がいるなんて、なんか嬉しかった~。

Pyongyang Station/平壌駅が見えてきた

Beijing-bound/またこの電車に乗るのか~

The lucky ones/旅人を見送る人々

The NK dining car/北朝鮮側車両の食堂車

After, yes it bears repeating, several hours formalities we completed, the NK cars decoupled, and we were off. And there it was, a shocking sight just before leaving NK territory and crossing the Yalu River: the emancipated bodies of two children squatting in a pile of rubbish between some dilapidated buildings and the tracks. They were in absolute squalor, seemingly unable to move and on what seemed to be on the verge of death by starvation. From the passing train is must have been but an instant, and yet it seared in our minds, as clear today as it was then—unforgettable. And just two kilometers away from, relatively speaking, a world of freedom and prosperity, all too clearly visible. We can only wonder if this last sight of NK was the one that more than any of the other reflects the true state of NK. What an end.

数時間後、やっと全員の出国手続きが終了し、北朝鮮側の車両が切り離され、私たちの列車は出発した。そして、いよいよ北朝鮮の領土から出て鴨緑江へとさしかかろうかという時に、とても衝撃的な光景が目に飛び込んできた。それは、線路と建物の間にあるゴミの中にうずくまった、やせ細った2人の子供だった。とても汚い格好をして、動く力もなく、餓死寸前のように見えた。電車が通りすぎる、一瞬の間だったけれど、間違いなくこの目で見てしまった。今でも目に焼き付いている、ずっと忘れることができないであろう光景だった。彼らの場所から僅か2キロほど先には、北朝鮮よりももっと自由で豊かな世界があるというのに。私が北朝鮮で最後に見た光景は、餓死しそうな子供だった。なんという終り方・・・。

Our train then crossed the bridge over the Yalu River and stopped at Dandong Station for now Chinese border formalities. After this it was in earnest off to Beijing, but as our destination was Tianjin, we got off there in the early morning hours, and made our final parting with the other members of the group.

私たちの列車は、鴨緑江にかかる橋を渡り、中国側の国境地点である丹東駅で停車。ここで中国への入国手続きがあり、あとは北京までひたすら進むのみとなった。私たち2人は、次の日の早朝、天津で下車。残りのツアーメンバーは終点の北京まで行くので、皆とはここでお別れした。

To sum up, NK really is a different world, and our tour seemed like something from out of a dream. Everything from the ever-present and grossly oversized bronze statutes, the lack of a single advertisement anywhere, the ubiquitous, empty, purpose-built for propaganda buildings, the plastic smiles of children, the wide avenues devoid of any automobiles, and on and on, all totally removed from our sense of “normal”. A country so close and at the same time so distant—fascinating. It also served to help us appreciate the wealth and freedom of the world we know. By far the best part of our trip, hands down. In fact, we hope to have the chance to visit again, this time for what is perhaps the largest propaganda stunt still going in the world, the Arirang Festival.

振り返れば、北朝鮮は完全に異空間だった。このツアーは、夢の中の出来事だったような感覚さえする。大きな銅像も、宣伝のない街並みも、プロパガンダ用の建物も、作り笑いの子供たちも、渋滞のない広い道も、私たちの常識から完全にかけ離たものばかり。だからこそ、とても興味深かったし、やっぱり近くて遠い国だなあと実感した。そして、いま私たちが生きている、裕福で自由な世界のありがたさを改めて再確認した。北朝鮮は是非一度訪れてもらいたい国No.1。私たちも、機会があれば、アリラン祭の時期にもう一度訪れてみたい。

Stinging scenery

川岸の人たちは対岸を見て何を思うのか

And to Civilization, to a degree

中国、丹東へ入る。急に別世界。

And with NK done, it’s back to Japan and the end of our trip.

北朝鮮旅行も終了し、とうとう日本に帰国です。世界一周旅行のゴールはもう目の前!

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