Regent Holidays — For travellers looking for a truly unique experience, our tours to North Korea offer a privileged glimpse into a secret and propaganda-filled world. As the leading UK experts on North Korea we have worked closely with the authorities since 1985 to develop tours which push the boundaries for tourism.
After a fascinating week in Beijing, Daddy and I fly to Pyongyang today. So far lots of “exotic” meals and even a karaoke night. Who’d have guessed your father knew all the words to Livin’ on a Prayer!? The other members of the tour group are calling him “Elvis” Bunstable! Bad luck about the timing of our trip. We’re absolutely crushed to have to miss out on this year’s camping holiday with you and the children. Despite the torrential rains, the mosquitoes and the twins’ stomach flu, we had such a lovely two weeks in the camper van with all of you last year.
Love to James and the children,
Mum and Dad
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Dear Nic, James and kiddies,
Our group took an “escorted” tour of the demilitarized zone this morning. Bit dodgy. Apparently they haven’t accounted for all the land mines as yet, and Mum was a bit put off by the Kalashnakovs and the dogs. Still, good fun. Stopped for lunch – rice and what I hope was either chicken or pork – in an abandoned munitions hanger. (Add a cold bath and a bit of flogging, and I might have been back in the Royal Navy!) Went on to look at some rather hideous monuments, but had a celebrity sighting! Turns out it was that mad American basketball player Dennis Rodman – not likely to miss a seven-foot Black man in a pink cap, feather boa and lipstick round these parts. No traffic at all on the roads, and you would not believe what these people can do with concrete.
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Last full day behind the barbed wire curtain. Went to a parade this a.m. Not terribly festive — just tanks and missiles. We never did find out what they were celebrating, though I can’t say being in the middle of a crowd of under fed, identically dressed, flag-waving Kim fans was particularly jolly. Unfortunately one of our little band of travellers, Mrs. Fenster from London, somehow got separated from the group and ended up in the People’s Security Palace. Luckily they found nothing questionable when they searched her, and the authorities let her go in exchange for teaching them something called a Gang-Nam Style dance (?). Our “bon voyage banquet” is tonight. I’m certainly ready to be back in Shropshire. Your father’s been practicing for his karaoke performance all afternoon.
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Boarding the plane for Beijing shortly, but I have some rather shocking news, so prepare yourself. Daddy has decided to “follow his star” and remain in North Korea for the time being, abandoning not only his family, but 30 years’ service in the Commemorative Stamp Bureau and his government pension as well. After his rendition of Tainted Love at last night’s banquet, he was approached by representatives for that Rodman fellow, who are recruiting performers for something called a Diggin’ the Worm Goodwill East Tour. Given how poor Mrs. Fenster was violated here, I think your father has gone stark raving mad, but once he zipped up that yellow jumpsuit and switched on the rhinestone microphone there was no reasoning with him. Apparently they’re planning an autumn swing through rural China with a stopover in London on the way to Beirut. He can explain himself to you then, since reaching him in Pyongyang will obviously be impossible. He can do as he likes, but I am coming home. This is one Bunstable the secret police will not be using their filthy hoses on.
Love to all, Mum
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My dearest daughter Nicola,
Day twenty-four in the British Embassy compound. Sending this out in the diplomatic pouch as leaving grounds impossible. The station chief hopes Dennis may be able to secure my release. Not sure what you’ve been told, but let’s just say that when the Great Successor requests “Superfreak” it’s best not to refuse on artistic grounds. Pity really. Rehearsals for the tour were going terribly well. If you speak to your mother, please tell her how very sorry I am. Can’t think what was going through my head, but if she feels she must continue with the divorce proceedings, I understand. Seems we’d have been better off camping with you and the kiddies than swanking off to this barmy corner of the world, but no use crying over spilt state secrets as they say in the safe room. On a happier note, I’m told the Stamp Bureau may have a position in the Commemorative Re-Issues division should I make it out. Apparently they have a very competitive karaoke team and view me as something of a ringer!
Chin up and keep a good thought. Love to all,