Bilateral: Anesthetized


Rain beat against the window as North Korea took a long drag off his cigarette. He leaned against the wall and watched impassively as droplets raced down the glass.

He said, “It’s been like this for days.”

North Korea could feel China’s eyes on him. China didn’t speak though–just sat at the table and held his visor close. And that was fine because North Korea didn’t want a conversation.

“Russia always liked to remind me that life got harder. During the war, I tried to pretend like I’d never heard her say that. It was because I knew she was right.”

North Korea looked away from pounding rain, gaze drifting up to the ceiling. Though he spoke using sluggish words and a low voice, there was no sorrow in his tone. There was nothing at all.

“One of the first things she ever told me was that I didn’t understand what pain felt like. I resented her for it, at first. But she was right about that, too.”

When he breathed out, his hand dropped to his side, unable to muster the desire to smoke anymore.

“But I think… I think I understand now.”


The early 90s weren’t very good to North Korea. Its founder died, the Soviet Union dropped foreign aid before completely collapsing, torrential downpours severely damaged the agricultural system, and famine devastated the country as a result of the rain (and a number of other issues).  You can see a timeline for the flooding and food crisis here. This story takes place during the height of the flooding because at this point it was probably very obvious to North Korea that a crisis (of some size) was inevitable.

7 thoughts on “Bilateral: Anesthetized

  1. Your poetic personification of the state really adds a human dimension to international relations. This piece makes me feel compassion for a state that is constantly vilified, and by extension also makes me feel for its population. Whens studying politics it is very easy to forget that governments are headed by people, who experience the same emotions as you and I…


  2. This reminds me of an anime that took a similar approach. In that animation, all the countries of the UN took the personification of really effeminate guys, it gave politics a very human feel to it whilst dumbing it down and making the characters incredibly likable.
    Then the cold war happened and yea.
    I like your work, keep it up!


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