Magazine November 17, 2014, Issue

Witness from Hell

(Oslo Freedom Forum)
The bravery of a North Korean escapee

Oslo — It was not until 2010 that I met a North Korean. I met Kang Chol-hwan at the Oslo Freedom Forum. Kang is the famed defector who wrote a memoir called “The Aquariums of Pyongyang.” Shaking his hand, I had a strange feeling: I felt I was meeting someone from outer space. I had the feeling of meeting an emissary, an escapee, from the largest, most terrible prison imaginable.

North Korea is called “the Hermit Kingdom,” because it is uniquely isolated. No one comes in and no one goes out (as a rule). This is too cute a name, however.

In This Issue

Articles

Politics & Policy

Jurassic Cards

The business card seems to be surviving the speedy displacement and long death of print media, but nobody knows exactly why. Already a relic before the 20th century began, an ...
Politics & Policy

The Ike Theme Park

After a federal planning board rejected his unpopular design last spring, architect Frank Gehry downsized his proposed national memorial to Dwight D. Eisenhower in Washington, D.C. In October, both the ...

Features

Politics & Policy

Empty Integrity

The Oxford English Dictionary defines “integrity” in part as “soundness of moral principle; the character of uncorrupted virtue, esp. in relation to truth and fair dealing; uprightness, honesty, sincerity.” This ...

Books, Arts & Manners

Politics & Policy

A Vanished Breed

‘Republican in name only,” “country-club Republican,” “establishment Republican”: These are the terms grassroots conservatives use to attack their moderate Republican opponents, whom they consider “squishes” and elitists — people who ...
Politics & Policy

Touched by the Divine

Someone who wants to understand why conservative Protestants don’t vacate the public square now that their kind of religion seems to have been so completely routed — can anyone think ...
Country Life

In a Dry Season

The mountains upstate are the tap, the fire hydrant, the wellhead for the city. Decades ago the thirsty megalopolis bought land to serve as gigantic offsite gutters and rain barrels. ...

Sections

Politics & Policy

Letters

The Inherent Danger of SWAT Teams Regarding Jay Nordlinger’s piece “A Job Like No Other” (September 22): I certainly sympathize with the police in general. It’s a necessary and difficult job. ...
Politics & Policy

The Week

‐ President Obama’s credit card was refused. From force of habit, he shut down the Washington Monument. ‐ Two in Canada, one in Queens: The end of October was marked by ...
Athwart

It’s Ineffable

If you wanted to change minds and win hearts about the issues that face women today, of course you’d take cute little girls who embody the sweet joy of innocence ...
The Long View

Memorandum

TO: New-Business Teams, Both Dem and Rep FROM: Media Team RE: Signing up new clients for Campaign Cycle 2016 Hi all . . . As we all digest the midterm results, we’ve got to ...
Politics & Policy

Poetry

MORE SPACE An anthropology of space? A Cape May Scenario: porches, hammocks, flags; lawns Without stone ornaments, small windows That are bow-shaped for the sea wind, Mail boxes with salt-air-withered signs, The pavements narrow enough for ...

Most Popular

Sports

It’s Time for a Change in Leadership

A lot of people -- including me -- will tell you he didn’t belong in the top job. We will tell you that nothing in his past performance indicated that he could handle the responsibility or had the right temperament for the pressures of leadership. Some of us opposed him before he stepped through the door and ... Read More
Sports

It’s Time for a Change in Leadership

A lot of people -- including me -- will tell you he didn’t belong in the top job. We will tell you that nothing in his past performance indicated that he could handle the responsibility or had the right temperament for the pressures of leadership. Some of us opposed him before he stepped through the door and ... Read More

Revolution by Shenanigan

Texans are very fond of reminding our fellow Americans that, because of its former status as an independent republic, Texas is the only state in the union permitted by treaty to leave the Union or renegotiate its status. This is a point of pride with Texans. It isn’t true. In fact, nothing you will ever ... Read More

Revolution by Shenanigan

Texans are very fond of reminding our fellow Americans that, because of its former status as an independent republic, Texas is the only state in the union permitted by treaty to leave the Union or renegotiate its status. This is a point of pride with Texans. It isn’t true. In fact, nothing you will ever ... Read More
Law & the Courts

On Judge Barrett, Let’s Tell the Truth

Once when I was a kid, my dad held up three fingers and asked, “Does this two look like a three?” Little did I know that this attempted sleight of hand would become a regular feature of the process for appointing federal judges. Watch for it in the days ahead as the Senate considers President Donald Trump’s ... Read More
Law & the Courts

On Judge Barrett, Let’s Tell the Truth

Once when I was a kid, my dad held up three fingers and asked, “Does this two look like a three?” Little did I know that this attempted sleight of hand would become a regular feature of the process for appointing federal judges. Watch for it in the days ahead as the Senate considers President Donald Trump’s ... Read More
Elections

‘Sorry, Charlie’

If it is true that rioters are using cans of tuna as weapons, I hope one of them had the wit to pick up a tin, pull down his mask a bit, smirk at the goon next to him and shout, “Sorry, Charlie!” before launching. It would almost be worth it. The president says that the ballistic advantage of a tuna can is ... Read More
Elections

‘Sorry, Charlie’

If it is true that rioters are using cans of tuna as weapons, I hope one of them had the wit to pick up a tin, pull down his mask a bit, smirk at the goon next to him and shout, “Sorry, Charlie!” before launching. It would almost be worth it. The president says that the ballistic advantage of a tuna can is ... Read More