They are very openhearted.
There is one of an ex-military officer of North Korean army that I always visit during my stay in North Korea.
He, who worked his way up to the position in countryside and moved to Pyongyang, used to belong to one of those “hard-faced” corps that sings “Long live” behind general officer, medals lined up on his chest.
This is a story of this old guy meets his son.
At that time, he; the old guy was already in bed without a toe to the floor for a while but he couldn’t afford to buy a wheel chair for himself. He was in a condition that he froze for at least 5 minutes when his son took him out from the bed without taking care of his father.
Looking at him being like that, I couldn’t stop myself offering my back to him, “Please ride on my back!”. Soon as I offered, his son stopped me ” No! Just leave him” He took my hand and walked away without looking back.
We arrived at the restaurant, left the old guy alone on the street.
He arrived after 30 minutes or so, he was almost faint over on the floor.
But then his son yelled at him…
“You are late! How long you think you’re taking to get here!”
Aww…. I thought North Korea is the country of the Confucianism.
Well, he wasn’t treating his father cruelly and it was more like a comedian way, so that I could still keep my smile on my face.
When all of us got together, the son ordered more than enough dishes for all of us to finish them up.
It was probably a special dinner for them. Although both the old guy and his son were bolting down their bowl of noodles, which then made me worry whether they eat properly every day?
All of a sudden, the old guy who concentrated single-mindedly eating his noodles stopped his hands and was choked with tears.
“I wanna see my brothers in South Korea…”
He was crying, like I could even see his tears dropping down into his bowl.
He was separated from his family during the Korean War, since then he couldn’t even make a contact with his family and left apart.
There is more than twenty thousand of who are separated from their family and those separated families are quite common in North Korea.
Although I was aware of this state of affairs, I wept in sympathy as felt pity by seeing this exhausted old guy who used to be a “hard-faced”.
But with the heartless sentence from his son had smashed the quiet mood by saying
“Hey, stop talking this kinda thing!”(Laughed)
That really made me uncomfortable for staying in between them, what I only could do was to hand in some Japanese medicines to the old guy.
The meal we had became the last day of seeing the old guy, as he passed away a while later.
I can’t stop thinking that might be because of those medicines that I gave him.
What I saw wasn’t something from an image of the North Korean army that we usually see in media, but real human being.
On the day of my return, the son appeared with this colourful and very showy paper fan made with peacock blade. Obviously he was attracting attention from around.
To be honest, I wanted to pretend that I’m just a stranger from him, though it didn’t happened in this small society in Pyongyang. He handed me in the fan “Take this! It’s a souvenir!”, I looked at the back of the fan, and it says “to the commemoration of your visit, Ms.Green”.
This was a completely annoying souvenir., but this gift was very “him”.
I had the fan for a while though it has this weird aura of a curse from it so I throw that away in the end but I actually regret it now.