Pyongyang never looked so beautiful. The wide boulevards with little if no traffic. The romantic and spooky electricity-free nights. The locally made brandy that rendered me blind for two hours.

Seriously, my long weekend getaway was spent in Seoul, South Korea. I only spent a day in North Korea. OK, a few hours. Would you settle for a couple of minutes? That’s how long I was on the north side of the line of demarcation inside the UN controlled, nondescript, pale-blue, one-story, cement building in Panmunjeom (Joint Security Area).

My partner and I took the Panmunjeom tour hoping to get a glimpse of what life was like under a megalomaniac. So on Monday morning we hopped on a tour bus near our hotel and headed for Camp Bonifas, named after the late captain Auther G. Bonfias who was hacked to death by North Korean soldiers in “the ax murder incident” in the Panmunjeom area in the summer of 1976.

During the ride up to the camp, the South Korean tour guide lectured us all about how horribly evil the Supreme Leader Kim Jong-il and his soldiers were. We were told about “the axe murder incident” twice on the way there, twice while there and once more for good measure on our way back into Seoul. When the tour guide asked us one final time if we knew why the camp was named Camp Bonifas, I was tempted to stand up and shout, “Because those sons of bitches North Korean soldiers axed him to death!” I would have gotten a gold star.

We took pictures of a North Korean village located on the other side of the river, and of me smiling beside a stone-faced, Ray-ban-wearing UN peace keeper.  You know, the typical shots you take when visiting the Demilitarized Zone.

The ugly barbed wire and beautiful green areas filled with land mines disturbed me the most. It’s unfortunate that in 2007 a country like North Korea still exists. Of course, it’s also unfortunate that my country is lead by a bumbling, born-again buffoon. I guess I should consider myself lucky.

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