Gulliver’s Travels: North Korean People’s Choice Awards

〉By Gulliver P. Travels | CONTRIBUTOR AT-LARGE

Gulliver’s Travels is a weekly blog by travel expert and cynic Gulliver P. Travels. Read about his other adventures here.

TRIP THREE: Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea! (North Korea)

I’ve been really excited about this one. Last month, The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea invited me, Gulliver P. Travels, to host the first annual North Korean People’s Choice Awards! I normally hate travelling, but the weather this time of year is so bad that I had to go SOMEWHERE. I spun the globe I have in my bathroom 100 times and I put my finger down, and North Korea was the place I landed on the most.

And boy was it a blast! At first, I was really worried. I know nothing about other countries, so I was really flying blind here. But they gave me an extensive tour of just the capitol, and I learned all about the rich history of the “true Korea.” Did you know that when their first leader was born, a thousand doves were released, and the sun smiled upon the great nation? Fucking cool!

Their statues were awesome!

The food was a little weird. Everywhere I went, they gave me a tiny dish of rice…they must have so much food over there that they have to give it away! For what it’s worth, the cabbage stew tasted a little stale and the alfalfa sprigs needed salt.

Then it was time for me to host the North Korean People’s Choice Awards. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do but I wrote a speech about how great their weather is compared to ours, and how there’s never any traffic in their country. The people were so genuinely nice—and extremely obedient, too. They laughed at the exact timing of the punchlines. These people really get comedy!

The show lasted about nine hours, but no one in the 50,000-seat theatre left or even went to the bathroom—you could feel the suspense. The competitions themselves were standard: best dance performance, best song, and best leader. This guy, Chairman Kim, competed in all of them and the audience seemed to like him the most, even though I didn’t get it. I wanted to vote for a really talented pair of female singers for an incredible rendition of “We Love You, Dear Leader/Glory to the Fatherland” legacy mashup. But when it came time to vote, only Chairman Kim’s name was on the ballot. All he did was whistle for five minutes and did some very slow and uninspired tapdancing. Not impressive! But well-deserved nonetheless.

My one gripe is that they didn’t pay me in money per se, but they did give me ten “Kimbucks,” which have a picture of a fat little man in sunglasses smiling and giving a thumbs up. I’ll take it, but I would have loved an NK vanity plate or a T-shirt from the gift shop.

I give North Korea a five out of five, and I don’t even have a rating system!

Nate Odenkirk can be found straddling the 38th Parallel, one foot in North Korea and one foot in South Korea, just for fun.