“In late October 1976, the Norwegian police caught North Korean diplomats selling 4,000 bottles of smuggled liquor and a large quantity of smuggled cigarettes. In those days, the Scandinavian governments imposed exorbitant taxes on alcohol, which made the importation of tax-free liquor an extremely profitable business. Pyongyang officials transported large quantities of tax-free liquor and cigarettes inside diplomatic luggage. It was estimated that the DPRK Embassy in Norway sold liquor and cigarettes with a black market value of some one million dollars (in 2011 prices, this would be at least three times that amount).

After the incident involving Norway and Denmark, the same network was discovered in two other Nordic countries–Finland and Sweden. The scale of operations in Sweden was probably the largest, and the affair was widely discussed in the local press. One night, mischievous Swedish students put a sign reading “Wine and Spirits Co-op” on the entrance of the DPRK Embassy–to the great annoyance of its inhabitants.

[…] In May 1976 the Egyptian customs officials discovered the presence of hashish in luggage belonging to a group of North Korean diplomats–the first in the long chain of incidents of this type. The North Korean operatives even drew knives, but were overpowered by the Egyptian officers. Their diplomatic passports ended up saving them from prosecution. A similar incident then occurred in, of all places, Norway. In October 1976 the North Korean diplomats were caught handling a large amount of hashish to local drug dealers.

It is often speculated that these smuggling operations were related to the new attitude toward the North Korean missions overseas: once the economic slowdown made its mark in the mid-1970s, the missions had to follow the self-reliance principle. In effect, North Korean embassy officials now had to pay for their own expenses from the funds its staff somehow earned”


(Fra Andrei Lankov, The Real North Korea: Life and Politics in the Failed Stalinist Utopia, 20-21 (Kindle-utgave).)


Norge og Nord-Korea etablerte diplomatiske forbindelser i 1973 (22. juni). Den nord-koreanske ambassaden ble ifølge SNL nedlagt i 1992, av økonomiske grunner. For Sveriges del (Nord-Korea har fortsatt ambassade der) har det vært et vedvarende problem. Som så ofte når det gjelder Nord-Korea er det en hårfin grense mellom det morsomme og det triste …


Kinesisk visdom

mai 6, 2013

Tal ikke om hav til en frosk i en brønn.
Den vil kalle deg gal og bespotte ditt skjønn.
At havet er til, det er løgn for et kryp,
som tror at en brønn er det evigste dyp

Og tal ikke vist til et sommerfugl-kre
om urtid og istid og evig sne.
Alt dette er vittelig eventyrløgn
for solblinde barn av et duftende døgn.

Tal ikke til tiden om evighet.
Det er ikke sikkert at timene vet
en mere uendelig tid enn et år,
hvori allting begynner og alt forgår.

Tal ikke om Gud til en fattig sjel
som løper og faller og slår seg ihjel.
Han vender tilbake dit hvorfra han kom,
og mere enn det vet han ingen ting om.

(Herman Wildenvey, 1885-1959)

Første vers henviser til denne Zhuangzi-parabelen.

Fra The Book of Chuang Tzu (Penguin Classics, Kindle-utgaven):

Duke Tzu Mou leaned forward, sighed heavily, looked to Heaven, smiled and said, ‘Dear Sir, have you not heard of the frog in the broken-down old well? He said to the turtle of the Eastern Ocean, “I have a great time! I leap on to the well wall, or I go down in the well, stepping along the broken bricks. When I enter the water, I float with it supporting my chin, feet up; on the mud, I dig my feet deep in. I look about me at the larvae, crabs and tadpoles and there is none that is as good as I. To have complete control of the waters of the gorge and not to wish to move but to enjoy the old well, this is great! Dear Sir, why don’t you come down and see me sometime?”

‘The turtle of the Eastern Ocean tried, but before he had put his left foot into the well, his right knee was stuck. At this he paused, shuffled out backwards and then began to speak about the ocean. “A distance such as a thousand miles doesn’t come close to describing its length, nor a depth of a thousand leagues describe its deepness. In the time of Yu, nine years in every ten there were floods, but this did not raise the ocean an inch. In the time of Tang, seven years in every eight there were droughts, but this did not lower the ocean shore an inch. Nothing changes these waters, neither in the short term nor in the long term; they neither recede nor advance, grow larger nor smaller. This is the great happiness of the Eastern Ocean.” When the frog in the broken-down old well heard this, he was utterly amazed and astonished; he was utterly astonished, dumbfounded and at a loss.

‘For someone whose understanding can’t handle such knowledge, such debates about right and wrong, if they persist in trying to see through the words of Chuang Tzu, it is like a mosquito trying to carry a mountain on its back, or a scuttle bug rushing as fast as the Yellow River. This is plainly impossible. For someone whose understanding cannot handle such knowledge, such words of subtlety, all they are capable of is gaining some short-term reward. They are like the frog in the broken-down well, are they not?