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  • This video was made possible by CuriosityStream.

  • When you sign up for an annual subscription at curiositystream.com/HAI,

  • you'll also get access to Nebula--the streaming service HAI is a part of.

  • North Korea is a lot like North Dakota: they're both small, they're both isolated,

  • they both have a penchant for being run by dead people--and they both have some Americans

  • living there, although far from enough to justify two seats in the Senate.

  • If you're like me, you might find it strange that despite North Korea having no American embassy,

  • and technically still being at war with the US, the Hermit Kingdom is home to

  • a handful of resourceful, scrappy, independent, technically sort-of-treasonous Americans.

  • But, then again, you're probably not like me: I run a semi-successful YouTube channel

  • about silly little facts, and you probably have a real job.

  • How many Americans live there, you ask?

  • That's a great question, to which I'll give the same answer I gave when asked

  • how many tic tacs I could fit in my mouth at once: I'm not totally sure, but probably around 200.

  • Americans in North Korea come in three main flavors: former US citizens who have renounced

  • their citizenship and defected, still-citizen humanitarians and educators, and Rocky Road.

  • The first group, American defectors and their children, is also the smallest; in fact,

  • we only know for certain about two living ones: these guys, the Dresnok brothers, pictured here tying for last in a Kim Jong-Un lookalike competition.

  • Why are they there?

  • Well, you see, in a conflict you likely learned but then forgot about in school, and then

  • learned about again, and forgot about again in one of the five videos I've made on North Korea,

  • back in the 1950s the US and the USSR were in something called the Cool Conflict

  • and they took a look at East Asia and went: heyuhnice Korea you've got there.

  • Sure would be a shame if wedid a war to it.

  • And so, they did do a war to it, and split the place into North Korea and Gangnam Style Korea.

  • Once the war ended--which technically was never, but actually was in 1953--most of the

  • Americans who had been doing the war went home, but a few of them thought to themselves:

  • Hey, you know what I've never tried before?

  • Living in the world's most brutal fascist dictatorship!

  • Why not give that a go?”

  • And so, they did, and from 1953 to the 1980s, around 30 American prisoners of war and active

  • military personnel decided not to leave or slipped across the DMZ and into North Korea.

  • Some of them claim they did it to avoid court martial, or to avoid doing more war in Vietnam,

  • but everyone knows the real reason is because they had a crush on Kim Jong-Il.

  • Just look at those dimples.

  • Anyways, while most defectors have died, returned to the US, or relocated to China, an undisclosed

  • but likely very small number of descendents remain in North Korea and they don't particularly seem like they're coming back.

  • And who can blame them?

  • Getting to play roles in propaganda films as evil Americans and wearing uniforms that

  • look taken from a high school production of Sound of Music is a level of fame that would be hard to give up.

  • I mean, just look at how happy they are.

  • That's the face of a man who feels great about his life decisions.

  • The larger, less permanent, and far less cosplay-y portion of North Korea's American population

  • is made up of humanitarians and university professors.

  • Back in the 1990s, Christian groups took a break from protesting Kevin Smith movies and

  • yelling at Monica Lewinsky, and noticed that North Korea was suffering from brutal food

  • shortages and extensive flooding, so they started sending people and supplies into the

  • proudly atheist state, and they haven't stopped since.

  • Now, this might seem like an odd arrangement considering North Korea's stance on religion,

  • but Christians are really good at making themselves feel at home in places they aren't initially

  • welcome--just ask the Aztecs, or the Incas, or the native Americans, or the Spanish, or the Lebanese,

  • or well, almost every country and ethnic group in the world, actually.

  • It was also a devout Christian who founded The Pyongyang University of Science and Technology,

  • which sounds like a poorly-disguised front for money laundering, but is actually a private university that employs up to 70 Americans a semester.

  • At The Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, or TPUST--they don't call it that,

  • but I think they should--western professors, mostly from the States, teach 500 of the nation's

  • young elite in business and entrepreneurial classes, all in spoken English.

  • While it's unclear how many Americans currently work there given the US' ban on travel to

  • the country, it is still very much open and active.

  • Both the humanitarians and TPUST professors usually spend between three to six months

  • in North Korea, before heading back home to America and its many uniquely American comforts:

  • French fries, English muffins, Belgian waffles, Chinese takeout, etc.

  • But while they're still in the land of the uncreative haircut, Americans have to find

  • things to do, and their options largely depend on where they're located.

  • One common spot for Americans is the Rason Economic Zone, which is the chunk of the country

  • carved out for what industry and private investment exist in a country whose main export is nuclear threats.

  • To North Korean eyes, the Rason Economic Zone would seem to be an international hub,

  • but it's really more of an assortment of worn out Russian and Chinese businessmen hanging out at a Chinese-funded casino.

  • For the TPUST professors, who are based in Pyongyang, the whole capital city is at their fingertips

  • well, there are interpreters and guides who watch over foreigners,

  • but it's more fun if you think of them as super-loyal, government-mandated travel buddies.

  • What was once viewed as the world's most boring city is now home to a host of restaurants,

  • shopping centers, skating rinks, social clubs, heck, even sketchy Wi-Fi for foreigners to enjoy

  • making Pyongyang, well, still probably one of the most boring cities in the world.

  • If you're an American getting bored in Pyongyang, I've got a great idea for how you can stay entertained.

  • You see, a while back, I and a bunch of educational-ish creators friends decided to make our own streaming

  • site where we don't have to worry about demonitization or the YouTube algorithm

  • all we have to focus on is making great content.

  • It's called Nebula, and on it, you get early access to ad-free versions of all my YouTube videos,

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  • length Wendover documentaries, my Nebula-exclusive podcast Showmakers, and a ton of other projects from other creators.

  • The best way to get Nebula is through a bundle deal with CuriosityStream, a documentary streaming

  • service with incredible exclusive content from people like Jane Goodall, David Attenborough, and Chris Hadfield.

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B1 US korea north korea north pyongyang nebula war

Why 200-ish Americans Live in North Korea

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    nao posted on 2021/07/22
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