There are places hierarchies send people because, well, they are out of the way and they are a good place to shove people who have caused trouble. Or they are such awful places to send people that those sent will get the message — you have done wrong. Not so much wrong that the bosses are going to arrest you and send you to prison, or fire you, but just enough wrong to be sent to that very special place where wrongdoers are sent. Because that place is so awful, so miserable, so boring that the wrongdoer will do anything — anything — to get out of that place.
So, my question is this: What on earth did Ismail Ahmed Mohamed Hasan do to deserve being the Palestinian ambassador to North Korea? Or are there worse postings for an ambassador from Palestine?
And aren’t those flowers lovely?
Pyongyang, January 19 (KCNA) — The dear respected Kim Jong Un received a floral basket from Mahmoud Abbas, chief of the Palestinian National Authority, with the approach of the lunar New Year, Juche 101.
The floral basket was handed over to an official concerned by Palestinian Ambassador to the DPRK Ismail Ahmed Mohamed Hasan on Thursday. -0-
About the term “floral basket.” Kim Il Sung was constantly receiving floral baskets. As was Kim Jong Il. Not an issue of The People’s Korea that I have from the late 1980s goes by without Kim Il Sung or Kim Jong Il receiving a floral basket from someone: the foreign minister of Mozambique, the president of Bangladesh, the chairman of the Juche Study Committee in Uruguay, the second-vice secretary of the Korean-Finnish Friendship Society. Floral baskets for the erstwhile leader of North Korea is a big news item. On North Korean holidays, such as the birthdays of Great Leaders and Dear Leaders, the list of floral basket senders would simply go on and on. There was probably not an uncut flower within 100 kilometers of Pyongyang. There must be something in Korean culture — either the real culture or the invented mishmash that is the Juche Religion of the DPRK — that gives status to the floral basket, or to the one receiving the floral basket. And funny, all those short little stories about floral baskets, and I’d never actually seen a picture of one. Until now.
Running a flower shop in Pyongyang would be a very lucrative business, all those flower baskets. Well, it would be, if you could legally do business in North Korea.
(I will, at some point, dig into the box where I keep all those copies of The People’s Korea that I have and go through them. It will be fun! It was something that got mailed to the San Francisco State University student newspaper, and no one else wanted them. All kinds of nonsense got mailed to our newspaper. Including a number of poorly made and horrifically racist rants by one Mark Margoian of Waukegan, Illinois. Which I kept, by the way. And if I’m feeling particularly daring, I’ll dig those horrible things out too.)