On 17th August 2014, I set off to China. Not just any part of China, but the North East, bordering both North Korea and Russia.
I don’t really know where to start. It certainly was an out of the ordinary experience, and I learnt a lot about communism, about dictatorship, about the average person’s following of this and about the quietened voice.
What shocked me most was the lack of discussion about North Korea, in fact, not just lack of discussion, but the absolutely no discussion of any sort, even though many could see a (very, very close) North Korea from their bedroom windows. People refer to South Korea as Korea. To the Chinese, it is not worth differentiating between the North and the South as they obviously mean the South, leaving the North ignored and disregarded as a country and a nation.
I was also (stupidly) shocked by the lack of voting. I am wholly thankful for my vote, whether it be referendum or general election, we, regardless of sex can vote. It highlighted to me the democratic society that we live in (yes regardless of Scottish independence – for one, we got the option to vote in our independence).
Referring to the above photo, China is to the left and North Korea to the right. Looking at the cities it is very apparent the difference in wealth.
The Chinese city of Tumen is full of lights, lights on every street corner and lamppost. And the festival I was choreographing for had the most lights I have ever seen. I wander what the starving North Koreans think when looking out of their bedroom windows and seeing this.
The director of the festival actually worked for the Chinese Government and took me to a tower where I could see Russia, North Korea, China and on a clear day the Sea of Japan. On the way there we were driving along a road (as you do).
To the left of the road was this fence (above). This is the Russian border. To the right (below) was this fence, being the North Korean border. I could not believe that just across this fence there was a different time zone and a different race.
Anyway, enough of fences (and you thought I was gonna show you something you don’t see at home!!!)
The food was delicious. It was so lovely to be working in such a different culture, working with local people and children, and discussing political issues. I really feel honoured to have experienced such a learning opportunity and to allow this to inspire me and my work.