During the last few months, a different image of North Korea is coming forward-An image that the world is not really used to associating with the last existing Stalinist state.
Under Kim Jong-il, North Korea became a nuclear power. It also became the world’s most isolated state, one in which unknown numbers starved during recurrent famines, while money flowed to the country’s military programs.
When the ailing ruler, Kim Jong-il, died on Dec. 19, 2011 and Kim Jong-un, the youngest and previously least-known son of Kim Jong-il, was declared to be the country’s next leader, things began to take a slow but almost visible change.
Though, in his first six months as leader, young Kim alienated the Obama administration and put North Korea on track to develop a nuclear warhead that could hit the United States within a few years.
But ever so slowly, North Korea is opening up as well. A focus of its strategy is developing previously created “free trade and economic zones” on the borders that have languished.
Photos of women sporting miniskirts and heels in downtown Pyongyang, instead of the customary traditional dresses and the new leader seen on several occasion with his wife by his side and interacting freely with the masses have stunned observers and analysts around the world.
The images were a major shift for North Korea. Previously, seeing the first lady on television was un heard of.
And now, for the past few weeks there have been talks of internet and Instagram. Suddenly there is a map of North Korea and Google maps is taking you in the details of the cities and towns no one ever heard of or imagined getting acquainted with.
Of course the fact that these changes came so soon after the visit of Google's CEO. That in itself was a matter of great ripple-making speculations.
So far, Kim Jong-un seems to be trying to rule in a way quite different from his father. He himself has a more approachable image and apparently under his regime North Korea feels less threatened by foreign cultures.
And now, the lastest is Dennis Rodman’s visit to North Korea. Something that would have been unthought of a little while back!
Rodman has traveled to Pyongyang along with three Harlem Globetrotters and a documentary film crew for some basketball exhibitions and, the film company hopes, an audience with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who is said to be a devoted basketball fan.
The Harlem Globetrotters are known worldwide as the Ambassadors of Goodwill and have been involved in breaking down social barriers worldwide previously as well. They have traveled to 122 countries in the team’s 87-year history. This one might be the oddest trip of all, given North Korea’s isolation.
Rodman took to his Twitter account to talk about the trip:
They love basketball here. Honored to represent The United States of America. #WORMinNorthKorea— Dennis Rodman (@dennisrodman) February 26, 2013
At the same time he feels
I'm not a politician. Kim Jung Un & North Korean people are basketball fans. I love everyone. Period. End of story. #WORMinNorthKorea— Dennis Rodman (@dennisrodman) February 26, 2013
That’s too much opening up for a country like North Korea. Yes, there’s nothing wrong with joining the normal world even if with just baby steps, but why do we have a feeling in our guts, a little nagging at the back of our brains, that the shocker is yet to be delivered?
We are sure, Emily Dickenson did not mean the following words with any political scenario in her mind, but they remind us of the North Korean situation.
He fumbles at your spirit
As players at the keys
Before they drop full music on;
He stuns you by degrees,
Prepares your brittle substance
For the ethereal blow,
By fainter hammers, further heard,
Then nearer, then so slow
Let’s see what is in the making!