Hurtling back to Pyongyang on an overheated bus, careering over ice-ruptured roads, transporting a load of irritable, hungover international tourists after a sobering day-long trip to the DMZ - that eerily poised de facto border between North and South Korea. "And when" I ask "was Kim Jong-un born?" Old Kim states with pride: "January 8th, 1983. Soon 33!"
North Korea (or DPRK) remains misunderstood by the outside world, partly due to the lack of access by foreign journalists and researchers but also because public opinion about the country has been shaped by overused stereotyping narratives and images. But what I experienced during those two years in DPRK, had nothing to do with the standard stereotypes.