The underprivileged lives of North Koreans are hardly a secret to those who bother to read the news once in a while, but sometimes the details are (understandably) lost in the spectacle of the country's rural poverty. John Everard recently shared some of his own experiences with Pyongyang's elite class and their infatuation with Hollywood and South Korea while he served as Britain's ambassador to the DPRK:
I was often asked for medicines, but not as often as I was asked for DVDs of television soap operas, usually but not always from South Korea. These portrayed a world of which North Koreans can only dream--of people who eat well in smart restaurants, have their own cars and live in flats where the heating always works--and my contacts devoured them ravenously. I once lent one set of DVDs of Desperate Housewives and met the same person the next day with big rings under their eyes. They had sat up all night and watched the entire series in one setting.
While detractors may dismiss a story like this as evidence of a lack of a severe humanitarian crisis, let's remember that this is a country with millions of people--many of whom still barely exist due to the most recent "hidden famine."