JIM and JOANNE HUNTER at WVRC on July 30th
SCOTT FITCH led the Pledge. ALI SHOJI gave the Invocation. by Ralph Waldo Emerson. “Thankfulness: For each new day with its light, For rest and shelter of the night, For health and food, for love and friends. For Everything Thy goodness sends, Let us be thankful now.” An excellent choice, ALI thank you. Our increasing famous conductor, LENNY FRIEDMAN by name, was credited with showing Arturo Toscanini how to conduct without a score, and we benefited thereby with America the Beautiful.
We had lots of visitors and Visiting Rotarians. Visiting from BH was Renaldo Romano, and Jan Lechner was from the Rotary Club of Hamburg. Our Speaker, Jim Hunter, is a PP of Manhattan Beach. And this brought several MB members, Jim Hallet, Greg Wendy, Kathleen Adams, Wade Austin, David Rothmore and James Caprell I’d say that’s pretty good support!. Joanne Hunter was there in support of Jim, and of course she is also PEGGY’S daughter. Sunny came with LENNY, naturally, and DEBBY SCHERER was with PP STEVE. In fact, there were so many visitors that they hastily installed another long table to handle the overflow. It was good to have BOB THOM back with us please come oftener, BOB.
The Head Table was introduced, among some continuing confusion about whether being up there really is fine-free or not. Apparently not, since GORDON FELL was nicked for ten bucks for his admitted failure to bring back a fez to Prexy ED, after his visit to Turkey. And PP PETER MORE suffered the same ten buck fine since he didn’t come back home with a rug for ED. In addition, PP MIKE NEWMAN was threatened with a $300 fine, relating back to his earlier failure to name the Capital of Inner Mongolia (wherever the hell THAT is!)
Prexy ED and Kathy, plus MARIE ROLF attended the Dedication of a display case at the Fowler Museum, which was identified as containing a number of artifacts from our past member, LENORE MULRYAN. We provided some of the funding for this display, so be sure to check it out when you are next there. This report naturally led to another Actuarial story: An experienced Tour Guide at the Grand Canyon asked the group he was escorting if anyone knew how old the Canyon was. No one responded, except an Actuary, who raised his hand. “It’s one million and 3 years old” The guide was amazed, and asked, “How did you know?” And the Actuary responds, “Three years ago I visited the Grand Canyon and one of our guides said the Canyon was one million years old. “ These significant dates reminded me to look up the last receipt I got from my barber. It was dated the 6th of April, 2006, so I’ve been attempting to get other hirsute-challenged members to follow my example for over three years. It isn’t going well…
This is a late reminder, only for those of you who get the WM online. The Memorial Tribute for SLOSS VIAU will be this Sunday, August 2nd, at 10 am at the Westwood United Methodist Church. - at the corner of Wilshire and Warner. Parking is now fully available.
And on Saturday, August 8th, the August Moon Festival will be at SHIRLEY and PETER MORE’S home. Margie Downey can take your checks, made out to Westwood Village Rotary Auxiliary.
STEVE PETTISE reminded us that the survey slips he passed out should be completed and returned to him, please.
PP RON LYSTER confirmed that the trip to San Francisco to visit the new Chinatown Rotary Club and see the sights is ON! The dates are Thursday afternoon, Oct 8th, back on Sunday the 11th RON and GUIN have the details.
I was the final Reminder, pointing out that I had several copies of the American Institute of Philanthropy periodic booklet available to be picked up. If you missed getting one, you can apply to them at P.O. Box 578460, Chicago, IL 60657 or www/charitywatch.org, asking them to send you their Charity Rating Guide.
This deserves its own paragraph SCOTT FITCH IS GETTING MARRIED NEXT WEEK! An unidentified heckler asked if he would be attending the Harvest Moon Festival that weekend, but such poor taste in questions was roundly booed, so there.
PEGGY introduced our Speaker, Jim Hunter. Jim grew up in Phoenix, and attended the University of Arizona in Tucson. Joanne was also a student at U of A, and that’s where they met. After graduation, Jim served his Army time, and then joined them at Web Service Company and in case you don’t know where they got the name, they are BILL SR’s initials! Jim now spends part of his time in their still-operating Real Estate business. As you know, he is a PP of Manhattan Beach Rotary and PEGYY announced here that she expected some applause from those MB members who were present!
Jim brought us Greetings from the Dear Leader, whose name I cannot spell. Their trip was last September, on the 60th anniversary of the Independence of North Korea, and he provided some brief history of how that occurred. 35 to 45 years prior to the end of WWII, Japan occupied the entire peninsula of Korea. The leaders of North and South Korea, Kim IL Sung and Sigmund Rhee, stepped forward when WWII ended and Japan was forced out... They negotiated with Stalin to split the country at the 38th parallel. After a lot of intrigue, North Korea invaded the South in 1953, and almost took it all. Douglas MacArthur was the Pacific Commander at the time, and he injected the Marines into the fight at Inchon. They were joined by our Army, and pushed the North Koreans back all the way north to China. The border was the Yalu River, and our forces were camped there for several months, in terrible weather conditions. In November, the Chinese, under Mao, pushed them all the way back below the 38th parallel. MacArthur again surprised them with an end-around landing in their rear, and pushed them back to the 38th parallel again. An Armistice was signed by North Korea and the U.S., but not by South Korea, so they are, technically, still at war.
Jim and Joanne were part of a group under Abercrombie and Kent, allowing 20 of them to visit. They ended up with only 12 in the group, and spent 4 ? days in North Korea. Jim immediately pointed out how difficult it was to shoot pictures you could only do so when allowed or sneak them, as they sometimes did. Only 800 Americans have ever visited North Korea. Since you can only enter via Moscow or Beijing, they gathered in Beijing. The guide who accompanied them lectured on the does and don’t of their coming visit. You are prohibited from taking photos of people cutting grass, for instance this because the North Koreans believe it shows how short of food they really are. There were other prohibitions. And they then took one of the three weekly flights from Beijing into Pyongyang (and if you can spell it better, please do). They filled out three entry forms one on health, one on how much money you had with you, and one listing any and all publications you were carrying these were usually confiscated. No laptops or cell phones were allowed they were left in Beijing. PPRK the Democratic Republic of Korea, has 23 million people, most of them starving. Life expectancy for men is 60, for women, 69.
Everyone is employed by the government, and your lodging depends on the status of your job. Pay isn’t important in this rating, since your pay covers lodging, clothes, and usually, food. The city of Pyongyang was almost totally destroyed during the Korean War more bombs were dropped on North Korea than in Europe during the entire Second World War! They quickly rebuilt, but today the buildings are all old and decaying. Thus the rebuilt stores are small, with little merchandise. There are almost no cars, since only the leadership has them. People get around by bicycle, or on foot there is no bus service. Smog is terrible, because all electricity is produced by burning coal. The population is about two million small in a country their size, but stable since no one can enter or leave, without permission.
Their hotel was built in 1973, and is owned by a South Korean. Their group and one other were the only guests this in a hotel with 500 rooms! Electric lighting was chancy in the evenings, and you cannot leave the hotel unescorted. The penalty for speaking to an American can be death. He showed a photo of what they call traffic girls. These young women all 19 up to 25, and attractive have much sought-after jobs but there is no traffic for them to control. Likenesses of their two leaders are everywhere for those who have been to China, you will recall a lot of large pictures of Marx and Mao, for instance. There are three TV stations in the whole country, and their subject matter is restricted to coverage of the Great Leader and anti-American showings.
Thus North Korea is completely isolated primitive technology, and an obsession about allowing information about the country to escape their control. Their credo is Know the Enemy, but don’t let them know us. There are stories of busses taking people out into the countryside, where they witness an execution they don’t fool around! As a result, there is no question about spying everyone is afraid, with reason, to talk to any stranger. There has been very little building since the 70’s. Their pride and joy is a 105 story tower but it was started in 1973 and still isn’t finished they have run out of money.
One reason for allowing visitors for the 60th Anniversary was to show off their gains and the mass performance at the Stadium was well-coordinated. The stadium seats 150K, and there are up to 80K performers on the field! These include artists, dancers, gymnasts, acrobats, soldiers and children, all at one time. These are backed up by another 20K doing card stunts in the bleachers! As far as dress, women are not allowed to show their knees or midriffs, and you see no jeans, period. Everyone is required to wear a red lapel pin with a picture of the Great Leader. Children from age 9 to 14 are called Pioneers, and wear red neckerchiefs, and during this time their major indoctrination occurs. A shocking statistic a typical 7-year old in the North is 20 pounds lighter and 8 inches shorter than their counterparts in the South!
They visited the Liberation Victorious War Museum, which mainly contains reconstructed enemy tanks and artillery. Jim tried to question one of the speakers, and this poor guy became terribly flustered. Americans started the war, they carried out mass executions, and the North Koreans were the victors! He photographed the USS Pueblo, our spy ship which was captured in 1968, with their crew of 82 being held for a year. During their army parades, each attending citizen is assigned a spot to stand, shown by a red dot on the pavement, so they can cheer the passing troops. Visitors are not allowed to attend parades. There is a 120 foot monument of Kim El Sun, pointing south and talking about reunification. He is entombed in a Mausoleum, much like the body of Lenin in Red Square. There is no religion. The three types of people are listed as the Intellectuals, the Workers, and the Farmers.
Their last stop was the DMZ Demilitarized Zone, which separates the north from the south. We learned that Jim was, literally, stationed here during his army tenure that was forty years ago! Today, there are apparently 1.9 MILLION soldiers all together in the Zone!
Q&A How was the food? Not very good lots of chicken and rice. What kind of visa did you have? They were provided by Abercrombie and Kent, period. What is their next big celebration? Probably in 2012, which is the 100th Anniversary of the birth of Kim El Sung. How do they keep the troops busy? If they aren’t otherwise involved, they move them to work in the rice paddies.
Jim, all I can say is WOW WHAT AN EXPERIENCE! Thank you.
Prexy ED has a closing thought: Is it not a miracle that Rotary has brought together good and influential men and women of all civilized countries? And is it not gratifying to know that there is platform enough for all men and women to stand on? And is it not heart-warming to know that men and women of diverse faiths and allegiances can find so much in each other which is wholesome and good? Rotary is an integrating force in a world where disintegrating forces are numerous.