I have had a weird dream last night. And I wonder if my recent reading of another book on North Korea has something to do with my weird dream of the pathetic state.
I was a South Korean in the dream. Thanks to the Sunshine Policy advocated by President Kim Dae-jung, I was selected to join the Inter-Korean summit and see my aunt in Pyongyang, 200 kilometres north of Seoul. My mum gave me a photo which she took with my aunt, her younger sister, when they were studying at a kindergarten in Seoul. The photo has turned yellow but mum still keeps it as her treasure. In the dream, I didn’t know how many saddening stories of the split of the Korean Peninsula and families this photo represents; I was blurred and caught the bus sponsored by Hyundai Group. Along the journey, I saw the excitement and uproar of Seoul fading away, and I found myself in the midst of the tranquil Kaesong, the border city, after I had passed the heavy inspection of the North Korean soldiers at the other side of the 38th parallel north. I saw the splendidness of rivers and mountains in North Korea, and the scenery outside the bus captured my heart perfectly. However, I suddenly felt sad for this country which has failed to spare her people from hunger. In my dream, I was thinking that ours are two countries whose soil links together, but why our destinies are completely different from each other?
As both North and South Korea allowed families of both sides to meet each other for the first time in fifty years, the venue attracted many local and foreign reporters. There were many old folks at the venue, and as they reunited with their brothers and sisters who have separated for fifty years, they hugged and cried together. Some of them, having shed their tears, started to hold hands and sing the folk songs which became a craze in the Korean Peninsula before the Korean War. I was looking for my aunt while they shed happy tears.
In the dream I became a South Korean, and my aunt and her family the North Koreans. My young aunt brought her daughter, my little cousin girl, to the reunion. My aunt said that my little cousin is studying Grade 2 at an elementary school in Pyongyang. The school had a speech contest to commemorate great leader Kim Il-sung, and the theme was How to Implement the Juche Ideology of the Great Leader Kim Il-sung in Our Daily Life. And my cousin performed well and won a runner-up. My aunt also said that with her husband’s rank in the army, their family enjoys the priority to have more food ration, and even if the whole Pyongyang blacks out, their apartment still shines like Kim Il-sung square.
“The whole Pyongyang blacks out?” I was aghast.
“Yup. The whole country blacks out at night! And now we have electric supply only a night or two every week. Mind you, only places which commemorate the leaders enjoy stable power supply, such as Kim Il-sung square and Kim Jong-il statues,” said aunt.
Oh my goodness! Food and electricity are a matter of course! Why are they distributed according to class? I couldn’t make heads or tails of it.
My aunt told me that communist countries promote fairness through their propaganda, but they are instigating class struggle in practical. If you are from a lower class, you deserve the starvation and chilliness, and sometimes the government, at its free will, accuses you of having ‘tainted blood’.
I was even more curious than ever. Because the North Koreans sitting at the next table might report her to the party accusing her of humiliating the great leader and the nation’s pride. She should had been fearful of that.
She said the grandfathers and grandmothers sitting at next table are busy gathering with their old relatives to shed the tears of missing each other for five decades, who on earth cares about whatsoever great party and nation, whatsoever Juche ideology?
I nodded in my dream. And at this moment, my cell phone’s alarm rang and woke me up from my weird dream of the Korean Peninsula.
I had my breakfast and started working on my laptop. And I saw the three books on North Korea issues that I kept in my bookshelf. I thought of hunger, the disaster that these three books kept on mentioning pathetically. Next to my coffee mug I have some biscuits. All of sudden I felt that I am really lucky to have a cup of coffee and biscuits. As I was feeling lucky, at the same time, ironically, I felt pathetic for hundreds of thousand of North Korean souls who have died of famine. I stared into the sunshine outside the window, praying that today’s sunshine will warm North Korea’s spring and cultivate its farmland, and never let North Koreans die of starvation in the land which is already full of helplessness.