We visited North Korea twice in one year. The first time was a happy time. It was summer and there were celebrations for a national holiday. There were parades, public dances, fun fairs and the Mass Games. The second time we visited, was winter. Kim Jong Il had died, and the country was still in a period of mourning. There was a slight sense of uncertainty. All over the Pyongyang, monuments were being revised. And of course because it was winter it was decidedly more bleak. But still beautiful. North Korea is one the most strangely beautiful and fascinating places we've visited.
During our second visit I had told our guide that I knew and liked the North Korean song 'Jindallae.' While visiting a co-op farm, we were invited into the home of a family that lived on the farm, and the mother and her two children gave us a private performance with singing and accordion. Then our guide said something to the mother and to my delight she began to play the song.
The song is about the Korean azalea of the same name. The lyrics speak of the flower's arrival in spring, its bright red bloom despite the frosty ground, and its connection with memories of the past.