In 2002, after George W. Bush stole the presidency of what was then the world's only super-power, he went on to make his famous State of the Union speech wherein he called Iran, Iraq and North Korea "The Axis of Evil". And I've been fascinated by those three countries ever since.
Evil? I wanna see evil up close!
So I went off to Iran. No evil there, that I could see.
Then I went off to Iraq. And all I could see there was a bunch of poor desperate schmucks -- both American and Iraqi -- struggling to exist in the harsh war-torn world created by Shock and Awe.
So far, I have found that making sweeping generalizations about the evilness of countries is not a good idea. People are just people, no matter what country they live in. They all love their children. They all put on their trousers one leg at a time. And if you prick them, do they not bleed?
So far, Bush has gotten two out of three countries wrong. That leaves only North Korea left to see. Will Bush have gotten this one wrong too? It's time to find out.
When Global Exchange announced that it was offering a tour of North Korea in April of 2008, I just couldn't resist. "Sign me up!" So I sent them my application, went to the Chinese consulate in San Francisco for my visa to Shenyang in northern China where I would make my transition connection to Pyongyang, bought my airline ticket and voila! Democratic Republic of North Korea, here I come.
Apparently there was a diplomatic SNAFU of some kind about a week ago, the DRNK decided to only let eight members of my Global Exchange tour group into the country and, unfortunately, I was number ten on the list. Oh no! Now I'd never find out if North Korea is evil or not -- and if the leader of the world's only former super-power (aside from the USSR) was lying again or actually telling the truth for a change.
Not only was I facing this new visa disaster, but my airplane ticket to Shenyang was non-refundable too. De ja vooo! Remember back in February when I had been promised an embed in Iraq by the US Army and they rescinded it at the last minute and I ended up camping out at the airport Starbucks in Kuwait? Well. Now that my "embed" in North Korea has been rescinded too, does that mean that I'm gonna have to spend two weeks at the Shenyang airport Starbucks as well?
In any case, I'm leaving for Shenyang on April 4 and I'm hoping that, once there, the North Korean consulate will have a change of heart, take pity on me and let me in. Please?
So. Now I'm wildly looking around my home for some sort of present, some kind of gift that I can offer the DRNK's president Kim Yong Il that will tempt him into letting me come visit his country. Let's see. I have a review copy of Walter Brasch's excellent book, "Sinking the Ship of State". It contains over 300 pages of descriptions of how not to be a good national leader -- as demonstrated by our very own GWB. Perhaps Kim Yong Il would enjoy that.
But what else could I take?
Aha! I have an extra box of Girl Scout cookies! Who could possibly resist that! Kim Yong Il, if you are reading this, please let me come visit North Korea. You will be glad that you did -- not only because I am really excited about seeing the DRNK's alternative energy ideas such as the charcoal-powered car, but also because I'm sure that you will just LOVE Girl Scout cookies! My daughter Ashley's GS troop once sold 60,000 boxes of them. Trust me. They're good.
PS: "But what kind of Girl Scout cookies are you talking about here, Jane?" you might ask. "There are eight delicious varieties to choose from. And Kim Yong Il isn't going to be interested in just ANY flavor. He will want to know if there are Thin Mints involved." Nope, these cookies are even better than Thin Mints. This box contains Samoas (aka Caramel DeLites). Our troops sold over 30,000 boxes of them to Cal students. Cal students can't be wrong! Cal students love their Samoas. And I do too. Hmmmm....
Here's a description of Samoas from my blog archives:
Girl Scout cookies: The true story of how our troop sold 60,000 boxes!
"Jane, " asked my friend JoAnne, "how did your troop manage to sell SIXTY THOUSAND BOXES?" I'll tell you how! We worked our tails off! That's how.