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揭秘多才多艺的朝鲜餐厅女服务员

中国日报网 | 2014-06-10
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  双语新闻

The mystery of North Korea's virtuoso waitresses

  North Korea does not have the greatest reputation abroad - death camps, dictators and nuclear-missile-testing don't make for good PR. But in some Asian cities the Pyongyang restaurant chain is seeking to change minds with good food and great service.

  I've travelled the world quite a bit but I can honestly say I've never encountered restaurant staff quite as talented as this.

  After depositing their plates of food, waitress after waitress stepped up on to the stage to deliver a series of virtuoso numbers - Yong with her operatic arias, Ji-u on the violin, or Lin-a with her remarkable whirling dervish routine, balancing a pot on her head.

  All of these performances were served up to a thumping electronic beat, while rose-tinted images of the Dear Homeland flashed up on a screen behind them.

  I have to admit I became quite transported by it all. But perhaps this was the beer, and the enthusiastic crowd, who clapped and cheered throughout.

  We'd been served tasty if overpriced Korean dishes - dog-meat casserole and pine-nut gruel among them. And there was a range of exotic $50 beverages, flavoured with ginseng and sea cucumber, plus herbal pills which, the waitress told me, really could cure anything.

  But the question is - and I suppose the reason many foreigners like me wander into this place - what exactly are we coming to be cured of?

  The nights I went in the place was packed, overwhelmingly with South Korean or Chinese expats, mostly large gangs of them drunkenly flirting with the staff.

  The servers would dance elegantly between the tables in their colourful peasant smocks, smiling as they side-stepped the occasional groping hand of a client.

  It led me to ponder one circulating theory - that this was all a complex form of espionage... the talented and attractive waitresses had been placed here to seduce high-value visitors, like me perhaps, to extract valuable state secrets?

  To test that idea, I ventured a conversation with Yong, the waitress serving me, who did speak some English.

  "How are you? Where are you from?"

  "Pyongyang", she replied (OK, so that was a pretty stupid question).

  "How long are you here in Cambodia?"

  "Three years. I go home in one year."

  "You like it here? You want to stay here?"

  "No, I miss Pyongyang," she replied.

  I wasn't sure but did I detect a slight clenching of her jaw there?

  She was polite but a little stiff. If this was seduction, I was Kim Il Sung. I tried a more direct approach.

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