Study Guide

Pyongyang Wealth

By Guy Delisle


North Korea is like Wesley Snipes. In Pyongyang, it’s living the high life, flashing its bling, making it rain... but it doesn’t have any actual liquid capital to back up its lifestyle.

While Snipes was labeled a flight risk, North Korea has nowhere to flee to. (Don’t tell Kim Jong-un about Richard Branson’s planned intergalactic flight. Kim might never come back.) Now they’re stuck with a hollow hotel, loads of meaningless landmarks, and the pungent stink of grotesque excess. North Korea has written a big fat check that its butt cannot cash.

Questions About Wealth

  1. How does North Korea flaunt the wealth it does not have?
  2. Does North Korea have wealth?
  3. How do other countries enable North Korea’s decadent lifestyle?

Chew on This

North Korea doesn’t understand true wealth. Showing off possessions isn’t representative of wealth, especially if these possessions are literally hollow inside. No one wants a hollow chocolate bunny for Easter.

North Korea doesn’t invest in anything. It doesn’t invest in the world. It doesn’t invest in its people. It might just be the world’s poorest nation in that respect.