Off to North Korea

The Dom Post reports:

Porirua city councillor has accepted an invitation to visit communist next week.

Ms Ah Hoi is the Labour activist who called some-one a dumb-ass coconut because they praised Hekia Parata. I’m all in favour of her flying to North Korea. Less sure about the return trip though.

The city’s ties with North Korea began in the 1970s when councillors first visited, followed by former mayor John Burke and Porirua MP Graham Kelly in 1988. A Whitireia performing arts group also visited in the mid-1990s to perform in a spring festival.

I am sure Graham felt really at home there. In hindsight he should have been appointed Ambassador to North Korea rather than High Commissioner to Canada.

However, Mr Burke, who has talked to Mrs Ah Hoi about what to expect, said he questioned how worthwhile his 1988 trip had been.

He turned down opportunities to create formal links, including a sister city relationship. “I just didn’t think the time was in any way right and I don’t think it is now, to be honest.”

During his five-day trip, his every step was watched by an interpreter who would barge through the hotel door every morning and keep Mr Burke in his sights until he went to sleep at night.

This is what I object to. Anyone who goes get a state-controlled tour, which has no reality to the real North Korea.

I’ve visited countries such as Iran, which have regimes I disapprove of. But in Iran I could tour around the country, meet locals and pretty much do whatever I wanted so long as I was dressed appropriately. And Iranian people were free to talk about their Government and what they think of their President etc.

North Korea is not like that. Anyone going on a friendship tour is a dupe for the regime.

While Mrs Ah Hoi intends to showcase Porirua, she is not going as a city councillor and is personally funding 40 per cent of the cost of the trip, with society chairman Don Borrie paying the remainder.

Oh yes, Rev Borrie. North Korea’s No 1 fan. He writes letters to Government ministers imploring them to rule out any military action – even if North Korea invades South Korea. Well at least good on him for putting his money where his beliefs are.

She was aware that North Korean officials were keen to talk about creating a sister city, however, Porirua Mayor Nick Leggett said the council had no desire to create links with North Korea.

What a sensible Mayor.


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