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Most of the information is familiar to long-time DPRK watchers, though there were a few nuggets of information I had not heard before. Around 2,000 western tourists visited last year, plus perhaps 10 times as many Chinese visitors.I have posted these below: But who knew that The Da Vinci Code was a hit in this strictly controlled city? Or that the mass performances are not only a tribute to the leadership and motherland, but the way that many young people find partners? The expatriate population, excluding Chinese and Russian diplomats, and including children, stands at 150. There are certainly signs of change here: Air Koryo has new planes and three gleaming airport buses to ferry passengers from runway to terminal.“If you don’t go to work, you go to prison,” one male interviewee tells NPR.The one escape is a system where some men, like Mrs. Men cannot say what they want.” She admits her friends mockingly call their husbands “puppies” or “pets” because they have to be fed, yet they do nothing. Kim earns about 3,000 won a day at the market — the equivalent of less than 50 cents — at black market rates.“Recently an increasing number of people don’t bother to register their partnership and just go their separate ways after a few months or years if they want.” A recent story in the Donga-Ilbo asserts that prostitution and other forms of “adult business” are on the rise in the DPRK.Of course the article mentions neither when this specific trend became noticeable (from last year or from five years ago) nor does it mention the locality or magnitude of the trend.
Anecdotally, the women hint that they often are the ones to decide whether their husband’s skills are actually worth paying such sums of money. “I don’t know if you can call it power, but women do what men can’t do, so we can speak louder now,” she says. The men are then sent to a job in a state-run work unit, which — strapped for cash — doesn’t necessarily pay wages any more. The extra burden women carry is beginning to have social consequences, with young women hoping to delay marriage to avoid taking on a husband. “A sufficient engagement,” it proclaimed, “has two people and their parents meeting to confirm the marriage, and wedding ceremonies should be a gathering at someone’s home.” Regarding funeral arrangements and ancestral rites, it recommended, “Commemorate a death by placing a medal or honorary certificate before an image of the deceased along with flowers, while the various commemorative services on the 3rd day or the birthday of the deceased should be eliminated.” Getting into minutae, it added of a groom’s suit color, “Discard the convention of wearing a black or dark blue suit; men should wear bright colors according to season.” In these ways, the article asserted, kwanhonsangjae becomes an aesthetic and modern set of customs with a uniquely Chosun ethnic color.More and more North Korean women are marrying younger men as their superior earning power makes them increasingly eligible.Park Young-ja of Ewha Womans University’s Institute of Unification Studies told a seminar Thursday more women are becoming breadwinners as the North’s economic hardship deepens.The regime is threatening to expel divorcees, but to no avail.“North Koreans don’t take warnings from the regime seriously because they believe that there is no need to report marriage or divorce to the government,” Park said.