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American journalist lifts the lid on life inside North Korea


A group of people sit on the underground train of Pyongyang; some of these trains were former vehicles of the GDR (Picture: Jonas Gratzer/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The first American to study in North Korea has given an eye-opening account of what life is really like inside the hermit kingdom.

In 2016 journalist Travis Jeppesen spent a month living in the capital of Pyongyang, where he stayed at the ‘palatial’ but ’empty’ Sosan Hotel.

He said both plumbing and electricity were scarce throughout the country, while he saw cats and dogs, including Yorkshire Terriers, caged in zoos.

Every housing block came with an official spy to relay information back to the government while citizens were awoken every morning at 5am to an instrumental version of the North Korean song ‘Where Are You, Dear General?’

American journalist lifts the lid on life inside North Korea

A vendor displays a waffle making product at a booth of the Chinese ‘Benxi Kexin Commercial and Trade Co.’ at the 13th International Trade Fair in Pyongyang (Picture: ED Jones/AFP/Getty Images)

American journalist lifts the lid on life inside North Korea

North Korean youths and students dance to celebrate their leader Kim Jong-Il (Picture: Korean News Service via Getty Images)

American journalist lifts the lid on life inside North Korea

Travis lived in North Korea for a month in 2016 (Picture: Facebook/Travis Jeppesen)

American journalist lifts the lid on life inside North Korea

North Korean food street seller in Pyongan Province (Picture: Eric Lafforgue/Art In All Of Us/Corbis via Getty Images)

He told the New York Post: ‘It’s very, very haunting, and very bizarre. It reminds you that Dear Leader is with you everywhere you go at every moment.

‘The hallways were dark. There was no plumbing really in the bathroom. It hit home that this is a really poor third-world country. Everything is very bare-bones.’

Jeppesen, who lives in Berlin, studied Korean at the Kim Hyong Jik University of Education and was both horrified and fascinated by what he saw.

Once the 36-year-old saw an elderly woman selling candy and ice cream outside the zoo’s entrance picked up in a ‘violent struggle’ and carried away by two policeman.

American journalist lifts the lid on life inside North Korea

A woman checks products on display at the Kwangbok, or ‘liberation’, department store in Pyongyang (Picture: Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)

American journalist lifts the lid on life inside North Korea

People dance at an outdoor party in North Korea’s capital (Picture: Kyodo News via Getty Images)

American journalist lifts the lid on life inside North Korea

Commuters leave a subway train platform of the Pyongyang metro (Picture: Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)

American journalist lifts the lid on life inside North Korea

Men push their bicycles past the portraits of late North Korean leaders Kim Il-Sung (L) and Kim Jong-Il (R), on Kim Il-Sung square in Pyongyang (Picture: Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)

He tried to watch where they went but eventually lost them, and was certain it ‘didn’t end well’ for the woman.

Foreigners were assigned two ‘guides’ to accompany and monitor them every time they were in public, and the daily evening news is a ‘fawning rundown’ of Kim Jong Un’s schedule.

He was convinced his hotel room, phone and computer were bugged, adding to the psychological stress he already felt about being watched every minute.

Jeppesen,author of the new book See You Again in Pyongyang: A Journey Into Kim Jong Un’s North Korea, also struggled with the fact he couldn’t contact his family or partner back home, having not bought the SIM card for foreigners as he didn’t want his emails spied on.

‘Psychologically, it was very difficult and stressful. It had all these weird side effects,’ he said. There were moments when I finally was alone and nobody was watching me, yet it felt creepy because I was so used to being watched.’

American journalist lifts the lid on life inside North Korea

A general view of Kim Il Sung Square and Grand People’s Study House in Pyongyang (Picture: Xiaolu Chu/Getty Images)

American journalist lifts the lid on life inside North Korea

Tanks during the parade at Kim Il-Sung square to mark the 70th anniversary of its ruling Worker’s Party of Korea (Picture: Liu Xingzhe/VCG via Getty Images)

American journalist lifts the lid on life inside North Korea

Travis was shocked by a lot of what he saw (Picture: Facebook/Travis Jeppesen)

American journalist lifts the lid on life inside North Korea

Kim Jong-Un waves from a balcony towards participants of a mass military parade at Kim Il-Sung square to mark the 70th anniversary of its ruling Worker’s Party of Korea (Picture: Liu Xingzhe/VCG via Getty Images)

Source: http://metro.co.uk/2018/06/03/american-journalist-lifts-lid-life-inside-north-korea-7601932

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