Sunday, 18 May 2014


These are pictures of what is, apparently, a compound in North Korea for a bunch of Japanese hijackers who have been kept under lock and key there since 1970 (story and link via Blood and Treasure).

The outdoor pictures show exactly the same shade of blue paint applied to the pergola(?) above and to railings, window frames, steps...

Nothing says more plainly that, however pleasant the arrangements, they are part of a prison, a madhouse, an institution. They do not belong to the inmates or to the landscape, but to the authorities.

They remind me of the Soviet-era playgrounds I have seen in the grounds of  housing estates and parks. Some broken and rotting, others well-maintained and freshly painted, all relentlessly and uniformly jaunty. You have to do a spot of Googling to find any pictures that include children actually playing in them.

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