Monday, March 4, 2013

Lifestyles of North Korea’s Elite

1% newlyweds, North Korea style.

As an outsider, not much can be said about North Korea’s 1% lifestyle because so little is known about them. Okay, we know from Google Earth images that the Dear Leader (the late Kim Jong Il) lived in a highly manicured compound with an Olympic-sized pool (which explained his svelte physique) and a waterslide. The international media has widely reported that he had an enduring fondness for Hollywood movies and French brandy. His oldest son continues to live the high life in Macau, preferring its freewheeling morality to the shackles of his homeland’s austerity and thought police. The current leader Kim Jong Un gets to call international luminaries such as basketball player Dennis Rodman as a lifelong buddy.
But what about the other elite members of society? Luckily for those curious about the lifestyles within the walled slum-fortress that is North Korea, an organization like New Focus International exists to bring insiders’ reports about day-to-day existence. This report from NFI highlights some of the aspects of North Korea’s 10% elite, which the article defines as “Party and state officials, high ranking officers in the Korean People’s Army, those who have foreign work experience or have family members who have been dispatched abroad.” The report goes on to describe the ambition of those in this privileged class to move even higher into the 1% super-elite class, which get to enjoy $12.50 whiskey shots in karaoke clubs, own private PCs, and watch international news broadcasting on wall-mounted flat panel TVs. And the weddings, oh my! A lucky few get to hold their ceremonies at the Mansudae Theatre of the Arts, which until recently was reserved for performances held exclusively for top political leaders and visiting foreign dignitaries.
Is there much social mobility happening at the top of this pyramid? Are we seeing a wider proliferation of home unit meat freezers and LCD televisions? Will any of these spoils filter down to help the starving masses? Stay tuned for the answers. I need to ask Dennis Rodman.

No comments:

Post a Comment