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Live in a gray city for long enough, and it shows on your face.

They are unaccustomed to your presence. Their heads hang low, and smiles are rare. They walk around you without making eye contact, but every now and then you may catch someone sneaking a look. You can feel them asking silent questions, but not enough confidence exist for those questions to materialize. You are left wondering at what they could be thinking, but you know that even an attempt to converse with them would be met with embarrassed silence. Only the children retain any sort of innocent curiosity to say a few words or wave hello. Otherwise, you are left with only your tour guides to get any sense of what the people are like.

There is a rule in North Korea that you are not allowed to talk to the locals. This rule was never enforced on our trip, but that’s because the people in charge know that the locals won’t bother talking to foreigners in the first place.

 

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Compare Bengali curiosity:

Bangladesh.

…with that of North Korea’s (notice the color differences too):

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North Korea.

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Children aiming slingshots at us.

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– At time of posting in NYC, it was 73.4 °F
Humidity: 83% | Wind Speed: 11km/hr | Cloud Cover: Mostly cloudy