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a glimpse of the Orwellian North
There are no boats here, where the Han River flows into the Yellow Sea--this is the watery mine-laden western limit of the DMZ. On a trip to Korea in the mid-1990's, one of my uncles took us to visit Aegibong, a 500-ft.-high hill that presides over the estuary. From the top of the hill we could see across and into North Korea. The first thing that struck me was the lack of trees--the mountainsides are completely deforested, except for the inaccessible fringe of riverbank. As far as we could see on this clear early autumn day, the slopes above the golden rice paddies were denuded of trees. When the wind blew in the right direction, we could hear propaganda from the loudspeakers on the north bank. A few months later, Kim Il Sung would die, and the North Korean famine would intensify; it's estimated that up to 1 in 10 North Koreans perished during the mid-to-late 1990's...all of this while Seoul, just to the southeast of the scene in this photo, would continue to grow into one of the most vibrantly capitalistic cities anywhere... South Korea would morph into the most Internet-connected country in the world, while the North would devolve into a place where doctors have to scrounge in the hills for edible weeds...
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