Features  Published 08/10/17 5:23pm

OP-ED: My Internship in North Korea Ends Next Week, and I’m Starting to Get Worried


Photo by Kok Leng Yeo // CC 2.0

Fire and fury? No thanks.

Until now, my internship in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea has been going great. I'm working as a marketing intern at Air Koryo, widely known as one of the world's best airlines, a job that I got through a pretty simple family connection to the venerable North Korean regime (who doesn't use connections for summer jobs, though?). You'd be surprised at how important marketing is, even in a totalitarian perfect state with one airline. I've been living in Pyongyang, and making great money. I go home with hundreds of won a day!

Consider this: at Kim Il-sung University, tuition is free for everyone. There are fifty a capella groups, and their coed Jewish a capella group certainly rivals the Shabbatones. It's NSO all year round, and students still get a good education. The food is certainly better than Commons. The employment rate for graduates is 100%, except for the students who [REDACTED]. 

Keep New York— the city of Pyongyang, with all its gourmet restaurants and happy people, is a far superior place to live and work. Why is the American president so intent on destroying it?

Please don't get me wrong, I'm not worried about the future of the DPRK. No, I'm worried about the future of Penn interns in North Korea. In fact, if war occurs Air Koryo may not want to give me a return offer!

Little rockets from Fake Korea, Japan, and the United States will pose no threat to the cutting edge missile defense system employed in this great country. They will pose a serious threat, though, to the already strained diplomatic relationship between the peace-loving DPRK and the war-mongering US.

Excluding my time pledging a fraternity, my internship in Pyongyang has been one of the most enjoyable and enriching experiences of my life. The thought that other Penn students might not get to enjoy the pleasure and growth that I have enjoyed this summer breaks my captor's heart.

After all, what would you rather do? Sell your soul to Goldman Sachs, or work in the service a benevolent dictator father-figure, helping the ordinary and free people of the DPRK? I think the choice is obvious.

Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un has been an exemplary boss, through and through, and I'm not just saying that. He's really built a culture of respect, and his people seem to love him.

Example: when a board member at Air Koryo made a small mistake, he apologized to the Supreme Leader. Instead of punishing him, the Supreme Leader had some soldiers carry him off to a kind of vacation camp. He was resisting, because he loves his work! Talk about an ideal workplace.

He has a short temper sometimes, sure, but what boss doesn't? He's only human.

Exiting the country will be easy, the government has assured me, but I fear that my work will be for nought. If it doesn't help my resumé, all I have is personal growth. 

LinkedIn is blocked in the DPRK, but I'm hoping that once I'm back in America I'll be able to make some connections and get an endorsement or two on skills like "obedience" and "writing propaganda."

President Trump, please do not escalate the situation between our country and this one. If the relationship between the DPRK and the United States reaches a boiling point, Kim Jong-un might not be willing to be a reference on my resumé.

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