Q. What is the antonym of Las Vegas?
Read the rest at: http://www.opinionjournal.com/taste/?id=110004528It's safe to say that no country in the world is more dangerous or more shrouded in mystery than North Korea, but some people would like to see it all the same. And yet, until last month, North Korea was just about the only country in the world without a travel guide. (There hasn't been one to hell since Dante.) While only about 3,000 Westerners a year manage to finagle a visa into--and, more important, out of--North Korea, everyone would benefit from the new Bradt Travel Guide's chapters on the country's rich history and on the psychology of a government that makes Saddam Hussein's regime look enlightened.
The guide, written by British journalist Robert Willoughby, sometimes twists itself into knots to be judicious, but when it comes to politics Mr. Willoughby can be quite candid: "Remember that this guide is only useful in the country if it's allowed in, so what I haven't explicitly written about I've included [Internet] links to." Among the best is the human-rights work of Norbert Vollertsen, a German doctor who was expelled from North Korea in 2001 and has just written a book on what he saw there (to be published next month by Encounter).
Even with its pulled punches, the book does a mind-bending job of describing the personality cult that surrounds the late dictator Kim Il Sung ("the Great Leader") and his son and successor Kim Jong Il ("the Dear Leader"). The guide laconically notes that tourists will "be asked to 'pay respect' to statues and shrines" of the two men. "Just do it" is its terse advice....