North Korea with a human face

The New York Korea Society is not a venue for saying nice things about North Korea.

This year, it is having a series on North Korea, which, more or less verges on bashing the DPRK for its sins of omissions and commissions.

Yet, on 19 June 2012, a retired British ambassador to Pyongyang John Everard’s book ‘Only beautiful, please: a British diplomat in North Korea’ had its ‘vernissage’.

Everard wrote his ‘memoir’ whilst a fellow at Stanford’s Shorenstein Asia Pacific Research Center for the last year or two.

Using photographs, the seasoned diplomat made his audience of some 60 understand that North Koreans are real flesh and blood individuals.

Unlike American or South Korean speakers, Everard is blessed with a sense of understatement and humour. When he chose to make a critical observation about North Korea, it was oblique and without the sharp elbows of his US or ROK counterparts, in and out of government.

What he did not do: he did not go into the rough and tumble twist and turns of the duel between Washington and Seoul and Pyongyang. For his talk at TKS was occasion to ‘know’ something about North Korea from someone who had hands on experience.

His thoughts on confrontation and negotiations and solutions to the Mexican standoff between the US, South Korea, and North Korea, Everard left to the interested reader who would buy his book.

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