The North Korean Karaoke Boss
Jordan Harbinger and Joseph Ferris singing Careless Whisper in North Korea.
The most happening spot in all of North Korea is the karaoke bar on the 2nd basement floor of the Yanggakdo Hotel. This bar is open to both foreigners and North Koreans (the casino and naughty Chinese massage parlor on the 1st basement floor is foreigners only), and some pretty wild whiskey and soju fueled parties can get rolling there. We spent our first night in North Korea singing all the western Karaoke classics – songs by the Eagles, Queen, and so on, and while flipping though the song books I was hit by a sudden flash of inspiration – George Michael’s Careless Whisper was available, and this HAD to be sung!
I had spent a summer in the Philippines, where Careless Whisper is practically the unofficial national anthem, so I have a soft spot in my heart for that ridiculous song. Back in Beijing, as we waited for our North Korea trip to start, and while hanging out and listening to a Filipino band at a disreputable bar, I got the party started by requesting Careless Whisper. From then on out, Careless Whisper became the trip’s unofficial theme song, with a few notes always to be hummed when some sexy corniness was required.
So back to North Korea – Careless Whisper is on the menu and it HAS to be sung, but unfortunately the North Korean attendants informed me that a queue of 10 or 15 songs had already been requested and I would simply have to wait. I had a gut feeling on how to remedy this, “ladies, I’m the boss! My song WILL be played next!” With Jordan nodding his head to confirm that they were indeed dealing with the boss , and with a look of panic, the North Korean karaoke attendants asked if they should immediately cut off what was playing and start up my important selection. I was feeling quite magnanimous and with a flick of my hand I indicated that they should let the song finish. Damn its fine to be the boss in North Korea – or at least pretend to be!
All the classics on the menu with 1 Euro Tiger Beer at the Yanggakdo Hotel karaoke joint, North Korea.
Only in North Korea will the song “Hungry Eyes” be played to a video of donuts!
Breaking vases in North Korea.
Lost in the elevator – trying to find my room after a night of North Korean karaoke.