THE WORLD’S LEAST REASSURING THEME PARK: “It’s a shame that North Koreans are treated by their rulers as basically an expendable race of people. Before we were allowed on the ride, the guys in charge sent a few terrified farmers on test runs like a shipment of human flour sacks.” Read the whole thing.
CAT-AND-MOUSE JOURNALISM IN CHINA: For all the kvetching I’ve done lately about junk reporting from Pyongyang, it’s easy to forget that some dedicated and intrepid journalists are working hard and taking risks to enlighten us about our world.
On our trip to Hunan Province, the nearest town center to the village we were trying to reach was about 40 minutes away, and we judged it would be too close to the area to spend the night without getting a knock on the door by police.
A good strategy is to check in to a hotel hours away from our final destination, so police officers don’t necessarily make a connection between our arrival and that area’s news story. That also gives us the opportunity to set out before dawn and hopefully get to our interview by mid-morning before most people would spot a TV crew in the neighborhood.
Depending on whether the family or person we’re visiting has nosy neighbors, our team can get quickly reported to local officials who then dispatch a team to investigate. [Al Jazeera, Melissa Chan]
Chan’s report is enlightening on multiple levels — first, in that Al-Jazeera itself is maturing into an instrument for greater openness, and second, for what it tells us about the mechanics of repression in rural China. Don’t miss this one.