Exploring the Unknown

Exploring the Unknown
Representing the 99%!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

DesTination: North Korean Motorcycle Diaries



 The Arch of Reunification in Pyongyang, North Korea. 
Photo © Gareth Morgan 
I came across this extraordinary sixteen minute documentary featuring New Zealanders Joanne and Gareth Morgan who decided to take a trip into the very private and unchartered parts (that is, for Westerners... well, unless your Dennis Rodman) of North Korea. This intrepid couple worked with Vice.com's Tim Pool as part of a project to turn their footage into the documentary that you see here. Pool's interview, Riding the Baekdudaegan, explores their experience of travelling within a communist regime. Just one of many world by bike adventures by the Morgans, it inspires us to think about riding beyond Route 66 and how something as simple as a motorcycle can open the door to exploring new possibilities and cultures.

Living The Dream!
Despite the very real dangers of North Korea many people to this day do not realize that the Korean War (1950-1953) left families stranded on either side never to see each other again until 2009 where a lucky few won a three-day family reunion. It is hard to imagine that in just a few short months it will have been ten years since I lived in South Korea. Though I never visited the DMZ separating North and South Korea the atmosphere in Seoul was never filled with the tension and uncertainty that western media would have you believe. Still, if visiting North Korea is out of the question for you, perhaps South Korea's Changdeokgung, Namdaemun Market or Bongeunsa Temple might be more your cup of tea. My personal favourite was the Motorcycle Market, a mecca for all things two wheels including some out of this world scooters that fold up and slide right under your bed!

Cafe Dough
South Korea has a fascinating culture filled with some of the nicest people I have ever come across. In just nine short months I found myself engaged then later married and living on Honeymoon Island with my lovely Zimbabwean, Jennifer. Working as ESL teachers we found ourselves immersed in another world, or rather, as close to another world as you can be. Perhaps, not surprisingly, we also had our first baby later in 2006; though by then we were living back in the Republic of Ireland. I saw much of the same genuine warmth and curiosity in Southern Koreans that the Morgans encountered in the North. It may not be North Korea, nor an obvious destination but touring South Korea on a motorcycle will undoubtedly be an experience of a lifetime for those who want to to undertake a path less travelled.

17 comments:

  1. Fascinating! Thanks for posting this.

    Fitero

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  2. Very interesting, educational and fun to watch thank you!

    I don't blame them for choosing the DR for this ride. I found that interesting also.

    bouldertag

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  3. Just IMO, you would have to be out of your F**king mind to want to ride through North Korea....unless you had on a Suicide Vest and wanted to take out the Little Dictator{which it appears somebody might have done in recent weeks}.... By the way, love your background cover of your blog....you have great taste:

    Hoot Gibson

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  4. Remember those three American hikers that just had to hike the trail between Iraq and Iran? The idea of going to N. Korea reminds me of them.

    elime

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  5. Bad Haircut Leader wants a T.W. !!!!

    Xracer

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  6. If given any, and mean ANY provocation, we should nuke that place. It's only a matter of time before they touch off one of theirs or they hand one off to Iran. It will save millions of free world lives.

    Ski Pro 3

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    1. Ski Pro 3, you are kidding, right? You cannot (or at least should not) think like this?!?!?!?!?

      peter

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    2. Not kidding. And I'm pretty darn sure we, the USA, has already bombed a couple of their nuke facilities in order to keep them from doing what I predict they are going to do sooner or later; launch a nuclear attack against South Korea.

      I can't believe you are so naive as to think this isn't an axis of evil nation.

      Ski Pro 3

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    3. ok, don't feel like getting in a "pissing contest" with you. Too much of that lately here. So lets just say that we disagree.

      peter

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  7. Hey Hoot,
    I totally disagree with you. I believe there is no better way to bring down that regime peacefully than letting foreigners into the North. Sure, as long as the numbers are small the "officials" are able to escort, control and censor them. But if numbers increase it would be impossible and more interacting with the population would happen and that eventually would lead to a change. Just my opinion.
    But....... what a beautiful scenery to ride a bike. Awesome!!!!!!

    peter

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    1. I don't have issues with disagreements, Hell is we all thought alike, we would look like the current "Leaders" in DC, mind numbed Robots devoid of the ability to think for ourselves...

      Hoot Gibson

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  8. All Bad Hair Cut leader has to do is let Mc Donalds in. Problem solved for us. His people eat Big Mac's and supersized fries. Get fed,Get fat and start thinking Ronald Mc'Donald's not such a bad guy after all. Next thing you know they get a Ross Dress For Less and love America.

    Xracer

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  9. Though I knew some people would feel the way they do I have to point out what I actually wrote in my blog: many of the families that were separated because of the Korean war were and have been barred from seeing each other. Meaning, the Koreans living in the North, as in every day folks trying to make a living, are every bit as warm and welcoming apparently as the Koreans I lived and worked with in the South. Thus, it isn't about throwing the baby out with the bath water (i.e. nuking them all) or being naive. It's about recognizing that even in the worst of environments there are folks who are in need of recognition for being just as every bit good as many of us like to think of ourselves as. By allowing "regular folks" into North Korea it may not only help humanize the many millions of innocents in North Korea but also allow said culture to see that the world isn't as bad as their political propoganda paints it to be. Isn't it ironic that a couple of bikers managed to do what governments have been failing to do since the Korean War?!

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  10. My dad had two nasty bullet scars from the Korean War Plus the PTSD he suffered from.

    TopPredator

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  11. Maybe we should send everyone in North Korea a Happy Meal.

    Fred

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  12. WOW, just wow. The view on top of that mountain was breathtaking. Also, I love Vice news. Great story.

    Scooter84

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