Saturday, August 12, 2017

Czech trams in Pyongyang

Tough words directed against North Korea have been a pleasant distraction for Donald Trump because the negative attitudes towards North Korea seem to be uncontroversial in the U.S. and beyond. There's a problem: North Korea may hypothetically erase several cities from the map but no one seems to care.

Americans generally support a strike against North Korea. But do they know where the country is located? That's what the folks at the Hollywood Boulevard, a major avenue in L.A., were asked. The answers were all over the map, literally, but the consensus seems to be that North Korea is in Northeastern Canada. Prepare your bunkers, Mr Kim IV Trudeau!

China told Kim that he wouldn't be defended by China in the case of a war. And Russia told Kim that he had no chance in a hypothetical battle against the U.S. I tend to think that Kim isn't suicidal but I don't have any evidence that is terribly strong. It seems much more likely that military hostilities will be started by the U.S. and given the big risks, I am not sure whether I am too happy about this possibility.

Instead, I would recommend the policy of carrots. Every time North Korea gives one nuclear warhead to the U.N., sanctions may be interrupted for one week, and for at most $1 billion of trade. I think that after some time, they would realize that they like these carrots.

The Daily Mail wrote the article
Thousands of North Korean workers rally in defiance of UN sanctions and Trump threats as country vows to 'win the final victory for the cause of Socialism'
Columns of obedient North Koreans protest the U.N. sanctions. There was a funny detail on the first photograph in that article:

In particular, the street on the photograph shows some products that have apparently defied the sanctions very well: a Czech tram. So I looked at the Wikipedia page of Trams in Pyongyang (CZ page for more information) and indeed, all the trams in the capital are Czechoslovak or Czech these days although there used to be some Swiss and Chinese carts there in the past, too.

In 1996 and 1998, they gradually got our Tatra T4 (plus Tatra B4 extra carts without drivers); less round T6B5 trams (see a picture of T6B5K in the North Korean capital); and in 2008, two years after the sanctions were imposed in 2006, North Korea apparently faced no hurdles to get some T3SU eliminated from Prague's public transportation system. Either T3 or T4 is what I remember as the most typical streetcars I used as a kid.

Most of these products were produced in the late 1970s and early 1980s and they may serve for a very long time.

But you should compare this 40-year-old Czechoslovak technology with the state-of-the-art Škoda trams produced here in Pilsen in recent years. Yes, the fashionable models tend to be low-floor streetcars. North Korea's economy was doing rather well recently but the trams are an example of the world's being some 40 years ahead of them, at least in some respects. And note that the trams must be rather important in the North Korean capital because the North Koreans have almost no cars.

Again, I wouldn't be willing to take the responsibility for consequences of a possible strike against North Korea. On the other hand, I still think it would be more likely to work well than not and I would love to see some positive results of such a bold operation if the optimistic scenario really materialized.

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