RYAN LIPPERT WRITES– If a hotel in Pyongyang catches fire and the media doesn’t mention it, does it still burn? Of course it does!
Last Thursday, the Koryo Hotel, one of the tallest and best-known buildings in North Korea’s capital, caught fire. In a city populated by approximately 3.2 million people, you would expect to see photographic evidence immediately. However, that was not the case with the Koryo Hotel fire. For several days, no pictures could be found. This is to be expected in a country as secretive as a country fittingly referred to as the Hermit Kingdom, where according to some sources, government security personnel surrounded the hotel as it burned.
Officials allegedly arrested everyone they caught trying to photograph the incident. Others believe that photos did not appear until much later simply because the fire broke out around 6p.m., which means that there may not have been many people nearby who to photograph the event. The former seems more likely than the latter. Chances are that nobody was around to photograph the fire because everyone who attempted the deed was arrested.
Although it is not particularly easy for the average North Korean citizen to access the Internet, it is still possible for photos to make it to the outside world. Although the few North Koreans who own a smartphone cannot access the Internet from their own devices, it is still possible for foreigners to do so. One even reports that he often uses Instagram during his visits.
A few days after reports of the fire made it to the outside world, the long-awaited picture of the incident finally made it to the international community. However, as can be expected, the North Korean government has remained tight-lipped on the matter. Perhaps Kim Jong-un’s got their tongue.