It is well known that North Korea rolls out the red carpet for the Western Media in an effort to portray a happy and wealthy nation. We also know well that it is perhaps the most unhappy, tortuous places on earth. But AP was fooled and "squealed with delight" at the communist paradise they witnessed:
AP- "...there was no shortage of mouthwatering options on the menu at our guide's favorite restaurant: ostrich, duck and beef; scallops, crab and lobster; pancakes, stews, noodles and even spaghetti.
Even the kimchi - and normally I am not a fan of the spicy fermented cabbage that is Korea's most famous dish - was irresistible.
That meal was part of a remarkable whirlwind trip that AP photographer Vincent Yu and I took to Pyongyang, capital of one of the world's most hidden nations, for the 65th anniversary of the ruling Workers' Party...
Afterward, we wandered along the scenic Taedong River, stopping to chat with families picnicking along its grassy, willow-lined banks.
Later, our guides had a surprise: a trip to an amusement park. Earlier, as we'd sped past in a car, I had squealed with delight and told them how much I'd love to see the fair.
AP is just excited about communism. Surprised? Reporter Jean H. Lee often praises N. Korea's communism and slams the United States. He reported "Smiling North Koreans win over South African hosts" but failed to mention the punishment dished out at the team for not winning 1st place. AP goes on to give gushing report of the Communist parade for the squalored nation's new dictator Kim Jun Ill[er]:
AP- "And this was clearly no ordinary event... Military VIPs, their uniforms bedecked with medals, filed solemnly past...
It's said that for the 100,000 performers who spend most of the year training for the intricately choreographed extravaganza in which they sing, dance and fly through the air, their dream is to perform for Kim Jong Il.
As the music faded, the performers stood dazed, gazing up into the stands and reluctant to leave. Many were in tears. Only after an announcer urged them to leave the field did they scurry off.
The next day, we had a front-row seat for what was apparently the largest military parade in North Korea's history, a marvel of synchronicity, with troops goose-stepping in perfect precision across the plaza to shouts of "mansei" - "hurrah" - from the crowd.
Tanks followed, loaded with a fearsome array of missiles and rocket launchers... Tears rolled down our guide's face.
Goebells couldn't have said it better! Doesn't that make you nauseous? Here's the best part: Associated Press calls this all "the Real North Korea!" They were completely fooled!
"...it was easy to forget we were in communist North Korea.
Just before we said our good-byes for the night, our guide gave Vincent a small, glossy red pin bearing the smiling face of Kim Il Sung, just like the ones affixed to the shirt of every North Korean.
"Always wear it on your left side," he said, "close to your heart."...
In the end, we decided there was no way the encounters could have been staged: the stew bubbling on the portable gas cooker, the couple canoodling in the bushes, the screams and laughs that filled the night air around the Tilt-a-Whirl.
It may not have been what we expected in one of the world's last communist strongholds, but it was definitely real.
BBC recently got a taste of what is "staged" and "real" in North Korea. They weren't fooled: