In 1991, few North Koreans had ever used a telephone. You had to go to a post office to make a phone call.
We see North Koreans as automatons, goose-steeping at parades, doing mass gymnastics with fixed smiles on their faces - but beneath all that, real life goes on with the same complexity of human emotion as anywhere else.
North Korea, under its thirtysomething Supreme Leader, Kim Jong-un, is no country for old men. The latest casualty in Kim's ongoing purge of the senior military command was the defense minister, Hyon Yong-chol, who reportedly committed the classic old man's offense of falling asleep in a meeting.
Gonpo Tso was born a princess. As a young woman, she dressed in fur-trimmed robes with fat ropes of coral beads strung around her neck. She lived in an adobe castle on the edge of the Tibetan plateau with a reception room large enough to accommodate the thousand Buddhist monks who once paid tribute to her father.
For a North Korean watcher, seeing 'The Interview' is like seeing an earnest endeavor reflected back through a freak-show mirror.
The scene that has raised the most objections in 'The Interview' is at the very end, when Kim's head dissolves into flames. To me, it feels gratuitous.
North Korea is probably the only country in the world deliberately kept out of the Internet.
Televisions and radios are locked on government frequencies - it is a serious crime to listen to a foreign broadcast. As a result, North Koreans think that they live in the best country in the world and that, as difficult as their lives may be, everybody else has it much worse.
Over the years, so many exceptions and amendments were made to China's one-child policy that it was hard to pinpoint a moment to pronounce it dead.
By 2022, China is expected to cede the dubious distinction of being the world's most populous nation to India, according to the population division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.