Study Guide

Pyongyang What's Up With the Ending?

By Guy Delisle

What's Up With the Ending?

Paper Planes

Guy makes paper planes out of old storyboards and then throws them out the window. He likes it when they make it into the nearby river. Why? Does he hope someone will pick it up and learn something from a French cartoon about a bear? Does he want to give the mandatory volunteers more litter to pick up? What does he want? Tell us, Guy. Tell us!

When he finds one on the ground, he thinks, “It must be a sign” (10.37). But of what? The book ends with Guy throwing one more plane from the window and cheering it on: “C’mon! Go!” (11.105). What’s he really cheering on? Can he not wait to get out of Pyongyang? Does he want North Korea to take wings and fly? (Hopefully without a ballistic missile on its back.) All of the above? None of the above?

Like the rest of the book, Guy wants us to think about it for ourselves. One guess we have, though, is that these paper airplanes are something outside of the bleak reality of North Korean life. Paper airplanes are so frivolous and inconsequential that Dear Leader can’t possibly care about them, right? Maybe Guy likes sending them through the air to escape his depressing circumstances and try to remember that there’s more to the world than Dear Leader “in-between” work on cartoons.