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那些多才多艺的朝鲜女服务员

2014-06-10    来源:中国日报    【      美国外教 在线口语培训

The mystery of North Korea's virtuoso waitresses

据英国广播公司报道,朝鲜在海外名声不大好,如死亡集中营,政治独裁和核导弹试验。这些都使得朝鲜无法拥有一个良好的对外形象。但是,在一些亚洲的城市,平壤饭店通过美食和优质服务来改变人们的观念。

North Korea does not have the greatest reputation abroad - death camps, dictators and nuclear-missile-testing don't make for good PR. But in some Asian cities the Pyongyang restaurant chain is seeking to change minds with good food and great service.

I've travelled the world quite a bit but I can honestly say I've never encountered restaurant staff quite as talented as this.

After depositing their plates of food, waitress after waitress stepped up on to the stage to deliver a series of virtuoso numbers - Yong with her operatic arias, Ji-u on the violin, or Lin-a with her remarkable whirling dervish routine, balancing a pot on her head.

All of these performances were served up to a thumping electronic beat, while rose-tinted images of the Dear Homeland flashed up on a screen behind them.

I have to admit I became quite transported by it all. But perhaps this was the beer, and the enthusiastic crowd, who clapped and cheered throughout.

We'd been served tasty if overpriced Korean dishes - dog-meat casserole and pine-nut gruel among them. And there was a range of exotic $50 beverages, flavoured with ginseng and sea cucumber, plus herbal pills which, the waitress told me, really could cure anything.

But the question is - and I suppose the reason many foreigners like me wander into this place - what exactly are we coming to be cured of?

The nights I went in the place was packed, overwhelmingly with South Korean or Chinese expats, mostly large gangs of them drunkenly flirting with the staff.

The servers would dance elegantly between the tables in their colourful peasant smocks, smiling as they side-stepped the occasional groping hand of a client.

It led me to ponder one circulating theory - that this was all a complex form of espionage... the talented and attractive waitresses had been placed here to seduce high-value visitors, like me perhaps, to extract valuable state secrets?
To test that idea, I ventured a conversation with Yong, the waitress serving me, who did speak some English.

"How are you? Where are you from?"
"Pyongyang", she replied (OK, so that was a pretty stupid question).
"How long are you here in Cambodia?"
"Three years. I go home in one year."
"You like it here? You want to stay here?"
"No, I miss Pyongyang," she replied.

I wasn't sure but did I detect a slight clenching of her jaw there?

She was polite but a little stiff. If this was seduction, I was Kim Il Sung. I tried a more direct approach.

"Where do you live?"
"Upstairs."
"Gosh, how many of you live up there?"
"A secret. It's a secret," she smiled icily. And then, more firmly, as I moved to pull out my camera, "No, no photos allowed."

So instead I turned to an elderly South Korean doctor sitting nearby. He told me he'd recently been asked to treat a couple of the young ladies when they'd got sick.
There were not normally allowed out, he said.

"They were all highly trained at the State Arts College," he told me. "They were the most talented girls."

But here they find themselves watched night and day. The waitresses watch each other, the chef is watching the waitresses, someone is even watching the chef.
I decided to do some internet searching on my phone. Reports of defections from these places are actually pretty few and far between.

The staff, of course, have families back home, and experts say it could go very hard on them if anyone tried to run away - although one or two restaurant managers have been known to abscond with bags of cash.


On those occasions, restaurants had been shut down entirely.

The working assumption, according to most reports, is that the Pyongyang chain is primarily there to make money, to feed the North Korean leadership's desperate need for foreign currency.

Some speculate that the restaurants are in fact directly under the wing of the secretive Bureau 39, an agency that allegedly launders cash for the government through ventures that include arms sales and methamphetamine production.

But to be fair, there was absolutely no sign of that here. And anyway, given all the staff, pleasant decor and equipment, it occurred to me that this little place was hardly going to provide that much of a boost to the nation's struggling balance sheet.

I turned back to the Korean doctor. What did he think? Could these women be spies, or was this just a money-laundering operation?
He shrugged doubtfully. Maybe it wasn't about money or politics at all. Maybe the North Koreans just want to put on a show - to smile and to sing - they just want to be loved.
Maybe.

I am pleased to disclose that, after some persuasion, one waitress, Lin-a, did relent - she posed for a photo with me. In the picture she can be seen smiling in her peasant frock. I'm smiling, too, in my jeans.

And behind us, next to an epic mural of a rising Korean sun, stands another waitress, watching us.

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我游览过很多国家,但是说实话,我从来没有遇到过这么出彩的店员。

在将乘食物的盘子放好后,女服务员们登上舞台,施展她们的艺术才华:Yong唱歌剧,Ji-u拉着小提琴,Lin-a头顶着罐子,转着圈。

所有这些表演都伴着一个巨响的电子节拍,而在他们身后的屏幕上,闪现着玫瑰色的“亲爱的祖国”影像。

我不得不承认,我被这些情不自禁地吸引住了。但是,或许是啤酒的缘故,还有受到热情的,热烈欢呼鼓掌的人群的舞动。

我们享用了可口但价格昂贵的朝鲜菜,如狗肉煲、松子粥。有众多50美元的异国风情饮料,饮料中配有人参、海参、中药丸等。女服务员告诉我,这些东西真的能治愈百病。

但是,问题是——我猜想过理由,那就是为什么许多外国人与我一样喜欢漫步在这里,我们来这里到底是想要治愈些什么呢?

在晚上,我去的地方挤满了人,到处都是韩国人和中国人,他们中的很多人醉醺醺地调戏着女服务员。

饭店的服务员身着五彩的衣服在桌子之间跳舞,她们笑着避开顾客们时不时伸出的咸猪手。

这让我想到一个传播理论:这是一个复杂的间谍网……有才华的和有魅力的女服务员派到这里来勾引高价值的游客,也许,可以提取有价值的国家秘密?

为了测试这个想法,我冒险和Yong进行谈话。Yong能说一些英语。

“你好?你来自什么地方?”
“平壤,”她回答(很好,这是一个相当愚蠢的问题)。
“你在柬埔寨待了多久了?”
“三年了,我一年回一次家。”
“你喜欢这里吗?你想待在这里吗?”
“不,我很想念平壤,”她回答。

我不确定,但我似乎察觉到她微微咬紧了牙关。

她很有礼貌,但有点拘谨。如果这是诱惑,我就是金日成。我试了一种更直接的方法。

“你住在哪里?”
“楼上。”
“天呐,你们多少人住在那里?”
“秘密,这是个秘密。”她冷笑道。然后,当我拿出我的相机时,她坚决地说道:“不允许拍照。”

而后,我转向坐在边上的一位年长的韩国医生。他告诉我,他最近受邀去医治几个生病的年轻女孩子。

他表示,通常她们是不允许外出的。

“她们都在国家艺术学院(the State Arts College)受过高级训练的,”他告诉我。“她们是最有才华的女孩。”

但在这里,她们发现自己只是单调地看着黑夜和白天轮转。服务员注视对方,厨师正看着服务员,有人甚至看着厨师。

我决定用我的手机搜索一番。关于这些地区的叛逃报告几乎没有。

当然,员工在朝鲜有家人,而专家称,他们如果有人企图逃跑,家人就会背罪,不过,有传闻称有一两个餐厅经理带着现金潜逃了。

在这种情况下,一些餐馆彻底倒闭。

根据大多数的报道,较有可能的假设是,平壤饭店主要是赚钱,养活朝鲜领导人对外国货币的极度渴求。

有一些人猜测,这些餐厅其实是直接受39号保密局的管理。据称这是一个为朝鲜政府洗钱的机构,主要是通过贩卖武器和生产冰毒等形式。

但是,平心而论,绝对没有任何迹象表明这些阴暗面的存在。不管怎样,所有的员工拥有令人愉快的装饰和设备,在我看来,这个小地方也不可能提供大量的能解决朝鲜负债的资金。

我转身回到那个韩国医生面前。他是怎么想的呢?这些妇女会是间谍,或许这个餐馆只是一个洗钱工具?

他不确定地耸了耸肩。也许这根本与金钱和政治无关。也许朝鲜人只是想表演,只是想笑和想唱歌——他们只是想让人喜欢。
但愿吧。

我很高兴地透露一下,我费力地说服了一名女服务员Lin-a大发慈悲,并喊她跟我一起合影。照片中,她穿着农家长裙子微笑,而我则是穿着牛仔微笑。

在我们身后,是一幅蔚为壮观的、有一轮冉冉升起的朝鲜太阳的壁画,下面站着另一个服务员,正在看着我们。


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