North Korea is among the most closed societies in the world, so Google's publishing of a map of the country this week undoubtedly drew widespread attention. It also attracted Internet snarkiness: mock reviews soon began pouring in for the Bukchang Gulag, a notorious and oppressive prison labor camp.
The Bukchang Gulag is used to isolate politically ‘undesirable' citizens, and has a decades long reputation for human rights abuses including torture and summary executions. Survivor Kim Hye-sook famously revealed life in the gulag, where she was detained for 30 years, in testimony given to the British and Canadian parliaments.
Now, Google users are writing their own satirical testimonials about Bukchang. One of the worst places in the world is receiving the same treatment as Amazon's 571 banana slicer, Tuscan Whole Milk, and the fresh whole rabbit - products that have become fodder for comical customer reviews. Here are some examples:
"If your looking for a the best death camp look no further. The country can barely feed it self so just imagine a gulag. Want to loose some weight? Just one visit to Bukchang and the pounds will fall right off. Activity include but not limited too manual labor, sleep desperation, disease and a high chance of death. Looking for some alone time? No worries all family are separated upon entry. Who knows what adventures await you in North Korea's leading death camp."
"There are already so many kind words about this gulag, but I just had to say something about this hidden gem! It embodies everything wonderful about the gulag experience: Fresh air, plenty of exercise, lots of personal attention, group meals and never having to worry about the rising cost of health care!Just A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich!??!?! Sign me up for a lifetime!!!!!Once you drop by, I guarantee you'll have a hard time getting the kids to leave!"
We'll leave it up to you to ponder the moral and political ramifications of it all, but there is no denying that one of the most mystifying cultures on Earth has been, albeit unwillingly, dragged into the zeitgeist of the Web.
(photo credit: David Worthington)
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