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N. Korea draws crowd

THE Democratic People's Republic of Korea Pavilion has surprisingly become a hot venue, especially among foreign visitors.

The pavilion attracts 30,000 to 40,000 people a day despite its bland appearance and being situated in the very east corner of the Pudong side of the Expo.

The number of visitors nearly doubles those going to the star-attraction Saudi Arabia Pavilion not far away.

This Shanghai Daily reporter found the pavilion attracts people from around the world for different reasons.

Some Americans said they were interested in the pavilion and wanted to know more about the country because they have little chance to visit North Korea.

American visitor Brian Killingsworth, 27, spent 27 yuan (US$4) for a North Korea national flag and another 30 yuan for a pin to show his friends and family in the United States. The flag and the pin were the only things he bought at the Expo.

People from European countries said they thought North Korea was exotic.

Elisa Frenz from Germany said the country was far away from her hometown and was very mysterious and different from European nations.

The pavilion seemed to have little appeal to Asians, apart from Chinese people.

Yuichi Kitawo of Japan said he would rather visit the pavilions of European countries because there was not enough time to see everything.

Some Chinese said they were curious to see the pavilion since North Korea shares a border with China.

"North Korea is also a Communist country, so I want to visit its pavilion," said a tourist surnamed Xu from Fujian Province.

"North Korea has also been a hot topic recently," Xu added.

The pavilion's main exhibits include a model of the Tower of Juche Idea, a monument in Pyongyang, and a Korean-style rock garden and small stone caves.

Four screens broadcast videos about the theaters, highways, universities and supermarkets in the country.

Interesting clips included some North Korean women driving private cars and how a family celebrated the New Year's Festival with neighbors.

Some counters near the exit sell stamps, books, postcards, DVDs and other souvenirs, which were also popular among visitors.

A memoir of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, the son of Kim Il Sung, is available in both English and Chinese. A set of six books in Chinese sold for 60 yuan each.

The pavilion did not accept media interviews. Some Chinese staffers at the pavilion said they were also not allowed to exchange the pin of the pavilion with others.

However, staffers behind the bar, mostly North Korean women, were friendly and patient. All of them can speak fluent Chinese.


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