When reporters visit North Korea, they’re usually given a highly restricted itinerary, consisting largely of visits with happy workers, tours of gleaming-but-empty buildings, and lectures about the glory of the Great and Dear Leaders. And, based on this Times report , the latest batch of reporters—who accompanied the New York Philharmonic on its historic visit to the Hermit Kingdom—had to follow the same script. But there was at least one striking lapse on the part of the group’s handlers, during a visit to the country’s National Library:
A librarian said the library had room for 30 million volumes and was 95 percent full. Two-thirds were said to be foreign-language books. The librarian summoned up some books on a conveyor belt and spread them out for the visitors to see. They were mostly computer books: “Electronic Packaging, Microelectronics and Interconnection Dictionary,” and a Windows 95 guide.
Yes, that’s right. Windows 95! If this is what they’re showing off to the press, who knows what’s actually in the rest of those 30 million volumes? Manuals for repairing your ‘46 Packard? The latest on that wacky new disco dancing craze? Suddenly, I’m a lot less worried about the North Korean nuclear program.