1. So what was Kim Jong Il doing yesterday, when the media circus hit the Beijing airport in the person of released American missionary Robert Park?
Why, watching Russian opera, of course! Do check out these striking photos of the Dear Leader, obviously in an expansive mood, with the Russian Ambassador from one of the better DPRK blogs in China via Hexun.
Although this operatic throwback to the 19th century might seem, well, reactionary, Kim Jong Il praised the “realism” (verismo!) of the performance and the art form, lauded the student performance as professional quality, and stated his desire to get more young people involved in classical music. Well (to be said in a 1965-Dallas-Cowboys-greeting-Igor-Stravinsky-accent), I’ll be damned.
2. So what has been going on lately in Sino-North Korean relations, anyway?
We really would be remiss without checking out what extensive lengths the North Koreans have gone to to fete the outgoing Chinese ambassador in Pyongyang. Maybe the cadre in the Foreign Ministry just need another reason to party, but, as I’ve been reporting here for a couple of weeks, the North Koreans seem to be loading Liu Xiaoming up with as much goodwill as they can muster. Perhaps this is the North Koreans’ way of redeeming an awful year, 2009, in Sino-North Korean relations.
More photos are available in these Embassy press releases regarding Liu’s activities with overseas Chinese, in some seriously regal award-conferral, and at one last meeting with Kim Hyun Jun with the Ambassador’s wife in attendance.
And in the meantime, the Dandong security heads went to Beijing and won some very public awards from Hu Jintao. Does this mean they will totally get fired if something goes wrong? Were they getting the skinny on Kim Jong Eun? Perhaps talking currency trade? Or just in town to catch an opera at The Egg? Your guess is as good as mine.
3. How does one go about studying Korean when living in Beijing?
These Chaoxian discussion boards are a new spot of interest for watchers of Chinese attitudes toward North Korea, mainly because they contain advertisements for this gentleman’s services: “Authentic Pyongyang accent!”, the blue wordcloud says.
According to the discussion board, no one picks up the phone at the outer two numbers, so try 王老师 (Teacher Wang) at 13651275426. This man seems to have grasped that it is better to usually learn Korean accompanied by hanja: