From the awkward first rendezvous to meeting the parents, searching for Mr. Right is no easy task. But how does dating work in other countries — particularly in places where free speech and romantic expression is limited? Romance is kept under wraps, especially in public spaces. But this never really worked, the exiled North Korean states.
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By Rose Kwak It is hard to picture what North Koreans do for fun in a country notoriously known for human rights violations against its people, where seventy percent of the population is food insecure and its people are constantly indoctrinated by the state. However, despite many bleak and dark images surrounding North Korea, many North Koreans enjoy various forms of entertainment—ranging from taking families to dolphiariums in Pyongyang to inviting friends over for karaoke. Behind closed doors, many North Koreans also take pleasure in watching South Korean dramas and movies, which is prohibited by the state but easily accessible through video recorders and CDs in black markets. While recreational activities and access to these entertainment venues is largely dependent on socio-economic class and regions, South Korean media is consumed by North Koreans across a wide range of socio-economic gradients. The following are types of entertainment cultures thus far known in North Korea. There are quite a number of other large amusement parks across the city such as Kaeson Youth Park and Manyongdae Fun Fair, to name a few. Munsu Water Park is another recreational park for families and it includes about 26 pools.
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Getting drunk with friends till dawn, going on dates to the cinema, playing too many video games. While these might sound like run-of-the-mill adolescent coming of age exploits, these activities took on a rather different form for Jimmin Kang in North Korea. Drinking with friends was overshadowed by the fear of talking about the regime, going to the cinema was blighted by not being able to kiss in public and having to watch one film six times because nothing else was showing. Video games were confined to an interminable cycle of Mario Kart played on 80s consoles. However, on this particular day, even these past-times were off limits.
When it comes to relationships, Pyongyang tries to instil "love for revolutionary comrades" over romance, but people reject it. North Korea was going through a lot of dramatic changes during my 20s. Due to economic difficulties following the famine, the national borders had started to become more porous and western culture was starting to make its way in. We pretended to have that quality only because we were forced to. She was a girl who went to the same high school who was a little younger than me.