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Full Circle

Day 51: Seoul

Michael Palin - Full CircleUnder a headline 'Armed Agent Shot Dead', the late city-edition of the Korea Herald reports the shooting of one of a group of North Korean infiltrators a mile south of Freedom Bridge. On his body, found at 7.15 this morning, were hand-grenades, an M-16 assault rifle, pistols, ammunition, flippers and binoculars. It is the first such incident for four years but puts the paper in a lather of indignation. It links this with a description of life in the North culled from a North Army colonel who defected a week ago. 'The North Koreans have established their own Gulag, the worst of its kind in all repressive totalitarian societies.'

From the top of Insam Hill, where the cable car stops, I take a last look at 'free' Korea. Below me the new high rises of Seoul sweep across the landscape, like a steadily advancing army. Having taken the smaller hills in their stride, they gather in serried ranks at the foot of the steeper, less accessible cliffs, until, invigorated by property demand and new technology, they can storm the next mountain. And so on, and so on. Seoul, it seems, will never end.

In the face of this voracious display of power and industry, North Korea, I can't help thinking, doesn't stand a chance.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Full Circle
  • Day: 51
  • Country/sea: South Korea
  • Place: Seoul
  • Book page no: 77

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