So it finally happened: a North Korean press bus in Pyongyang, filled with journalists invited to document the week's celebration of Kim il-Sung's centennial, made a wrong turn and gave people a sight they usually never see in the country--the real North Korea.
Dusty, pot-holed streets, forlorn passersby, and decrepit concrete buildings were a stark contrast to the manufactured images of prosperity that North Korean tours regularly spin to their audience.
Strangely enough, the government minders didn't instruct the journalists to look away or turn their cameras off. Perhaps they were too distracted by the significant error to think of censoring their guests; some have questioned if the regime is adopting a more lenient stance on journalists and information-gathering within their borders, a somewhat unlikely circumstance even with the new young leader Kim Jong-un.
The bus driver, a woman named Ru Jinju, continued speaking once the staff realized she had turned the vehicle in an unauthorized direction. But her fear of punishment is evident:
"I hope that the journalists present here report only the absolute truth," said Ri Jinju, her voice trembling, her hair frozen with hairspray. "The truth about how much our people miss our comrade Kim Jong Il, and how strong the unity is between the people and leadership, who are vigorously carrying out the leaders' instructions to build a great, prosperous and powerful nation."