I really need to just start bringing a tape recorder to every lecture.

I find that throughout the whole 90 minutes, I’m constantly juggling between taking down ordered and coherent notes on the more abstract material of the course and capturing Gregor’s wonderful asides and excursions into what seem to be his vast array of eclectic personal experiences in communist countries.

Virtually every time he departs from the theoretical (which is, about every couple minutes), it seems like he’s able to offer some anecdote in which he himself took part and is usually either caustic, hilarious or fascinating (often all three) .

By far the most interesting thing I heard today was his description of North Korea.


North Korea is really a fascinating, bizarre place. If you ever get the chance, I strongly suggest that you go . 

And after not too long, I noticed that no one in Pyongyang was wearing glasses, so, with my “interpreter” (the guy that was there to watch me), I asked someone on the street why they didn’t have any glasses. His exact words were “I don’t need them.”

“You don’t need them?” I asked, just a tad suspicious, since in China it looked like half the population popped out of the womb with glasses on .

And I’ll never forget what he said to me next, “Kim Il Sung takes care of us, so we don’t need them.”

Another thing I didn’t see in Pyongyang: old people. I didn’t see a single person that looked older than 45 in the city . Know why? Kim didn’t like the way they made the city look, so he had all the old people carted off to areas on the outskirts of the cities.

And don’t get me started on bicycles! Go to any asian city in the world and you’ll see thousands of bicycles crowding the streets. There was not a single bicycle in all of Pyongyang, at least not one I could see. Kim thought it made the city look too third-worldish, so he banned anyone from using them and made everyone walk everywhere!

I tell you, the whole place is constructed to portray a fantasy. It’s like a perverted, ramshackle Disneyland.


Well, at least all the constant famines and such mean you don’t have to worry about throwing anything up on the teacups.

last update : 23-5-2018

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