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4.20.2006 ||>   Today I was a little afraid

For work, I have been doing these profiles of doctors and hospitals all around the world. Some are easy, like London, where there are tons of available options for the American traveler. Some have been almost impossible. There was a case a couple of weeks ago where someone wanted to go to a distant village in the middle of a jungle, where the only evacuation procedure involved a mile long hike and a motorized canoe. That one was difficult, because I have to put something.

This morning, I wanted to call the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang, North Korea for another report. How anyone can get into North Korea (or want to) is beyond me. I wouldn't go there for a million dollars. I would rather go to Turkmenistan than North Korea, which says something because I don't ever want to go there either. Being followed and bugged and arrested for trumped up charges never appealed to me for some reason.

I tried to call the embassy anyway, and of all the surprises, I couldn't get through. Not very shocking for a country that disabled most international calling features for paranoid, autocratic reasons. There was some clicking on my phone and I have to say that my first response wasn't that it was North Korea. My first thought was that it was the NSA. This morning, I called 3 Arab countries and 2 Muslim African ones, followed by North Korea. And for just a moment, I expected guys in suits to show up at my door to question me. Even though I am calling for good reasons, a small part of me still expects it.

Today, I was a little afraid. Of my own country and my freedom to call whomever I want.


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