Study Guide

Pyongyang Absurdity

By Guy Delisle


Let’s be honest, folks. North Korea isn’t just ridiculous. It’s ridonkulous.

A dead guy is still president. There’s such a thing as mandatory volunteership. Time is measured since the conception of Dear Leader. It’s like a bad dystopian novel. Welcome to Pyongyang.

Except it’s real. It’s easy to laugh at North Korea until you imagine living there. And a lot of people do live there. That brings us to another point. North Korea might want us to ignore them, but they’re a part of the world too. Eventually they have to stop being wallflowers and socialize.
Don’t worry, North Korea. We’re bookworms. We have experience with socially awkward fools. We’ll play with you. Just don’t pee in our sandbox. Or nuke it.

Questions About Absurdity

  1. What, to you, is the most absurd aspect of Juchism, the North Korean political system?
  2. How does Guy react to the absurdity taking place around him? Are his reactions constructive?
  3. What does Guy do that the North Koreans find absurd?

Chew on This

North Korea is absurd because it is so isolated. Without social interaction, it doesn’t understand what comes across as awkward or strange to the rest of the world.

The leaders of North Korea want to seem absurd precisely in order to stay isolated from the rest of the world. Who wants to hang out with the weird kid who eats his own boogers?