LONDON — Untouched landscapes without the scars of pollution or other human damage and the most delicious seafood she has ever tasted.
That’s what Teresa Song of London says she experienced on her travels to the north east of North Korea.
The reclusive nation consistently makes headlines across the world. In late March leader Kim Jong Un traveled to the Chinese capital on his first trip since coming to power in 2011. Chinese state media reported that Kim told China’s President Xi Jinping that he is committed to denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. The historic trip comes ahead of planned meetings between Kim and President Trump as well as leaders in South Korea in the coming weeks.
Song, 27, a former investment banker and now an entrepreneur, started collecting North Korean art depicting nature and landscapes after first travelling to the country with her father as potential investors about three years ago. Innocuous paintings of trees, birds and flowers are permitted by the Kim regime — renegade and underground art is banned.
Now, Song has visited Rason — a special economic zone set up by the government to attract foreign investment — more than five times and she and her family possess more than 100 paintings by 13 North Korean artists, despite none of the family having a background in art.
Song says she steers clear of politics.
“For us it’s really about trying to show a different side of North Korea,” she said. “I came across the art and thought, ‘this is so beautiful.’”
She decided to find a way to get people outside the country to see the art and set up the Chosun Artisan website about a year ago. An exhibition at a gallery in central London last year attracted much interest.
Song, a British citizen, was born in South Korea and moved to Hong Kong aged 1. She grew up in London, and has spent time living in New York.
“It’s one of the safest countries that I’ve ever traveled to,” Song said of her personal experience of North Korea. Foreign travelers in North Korea are chaperoned by guides and Song said apart from her guide, she did not really come into close contact with locals during the trips.
“There are the most incredible landscapes, untouched beauty. It’s a shame because you don’t get to see that side of North Korea,” she said. “I had the best seafood there I’ve had in my life” she added.
She said Rason, where she saw scenes of unspoiled nature, is heavily focused on tourism and hosts a number of restaurants and casinos.
Elsewhere in the country, an international delegation of scientists reported a barren landscape destroyed by decades of environmental degradation. Dutch soil scientist Joris van der Kamp told PBS the treeless landscape was “basically dead.” Flooding in the 1990s caused a massive destruction of crops and paved the way for famine.
Satellite imagery has shown has shown numerous landslides in the area near Punggye-ri in North Hamgyong province, where North Korea has conducted its six nuclear tests. Satellite images have also shown that the country has failed to dispose of its nuclear waste safely, dumping materials from the country’s largest uranium mine into a pond that could contaminate groundwater, according to 38 North, an analysis website run by the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University.
Read or Share this story: https://usat.ly/2ElY2SN
Powered by WPeMatico