What Pegman saw – The boy who asked questions

“What Pegman saw” is a weekly challenge based on Google Streetview. Using the 360 degree view of the location provided, you must write a piece of flash fiction of no more than 150 words. You can read the rules here. You can find today’s location on this page,  from where you can also get the Inlinkz code.

Hyo worried about her only son, twelve-year-old Chin-Mae. He didn’t fit in; and in North Korea that could lead to…well, she didn’t like to think about it. She fretted as she queued for food. She fretted as she mended the family’s clothes.

Chin-Mae was in trouble again.

“I don’t understand,” he said in his class. “Aren’t Americans human like us?”

“No! They are mad dogs who want to destroy us.”

Chin-Mae was flogged.

Hyo wept over his bruises, her poor child. But how could she help him not to shame the family?

“Some things you must never say,” she told him.

Later, his school visited Samjiyon, and he saw the Great Leader rallying the patriotic troops of the republic.

At home again, “I do not believe it is right to go to war,” he whispered to Hyo.

“Oh, my son, my son!” she sobbed. “How can you be a coward?”



17 thoughts on “What Pegman saw – The boy who asked questions

  1. Those maternal instincts, on display again, but a totally different scenario, of which I couldn’t imagine, and your story showed how disturbing such a situation can be so overbearing. I suppose the whole country is over-mothered, and not allowed to grow outwards and be individuals with independence.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for commenting, Ivor – and such a fascinating comment, too. You’re quite right about the maternal instincts and how they can only be expressed in terms of the culture in which the mother lives. But North Korea ‘over-mothered’? Certainly individuality is suppressed, and I bet the Great Leader sees himself as the father and mother of his people. In the West, we tend to think that the regime must be oppressive in a nasty way – and there are press reports to that effect – but suppose it’s just that the regime has diligently fostered a culture where conformity is seen as the highest virtue? Maybe I should write a story…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks Penny, you’re like me , I sometimes write a story in my commentary. Especially in my replies to “Simple Observations Of Everyday Life”, I love Patrick’s humourous slant on life.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s so hard to know what people truly think and feel under dictatorships – whether they can truly acknowledge their on feelings, even to themselves. The hysteria you see sometimes when Kim Jong Un speaks looks desperate sometimes, as if the people are trying to outdo each other in their adoration for fear of what will happen if they don’t look adoring enough. Or is that a Western preconception?
    Fascinating story, Penny and I like how we don’t quite know Mum’s motivations – does she believe in the doctrine or is she just trying to keep her son safe? Well done

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your comment, Lynn. I agree with you about the hysteria when the Great Leader speaks; it does often look as if it’s driven by fear.
      Thank you for your compliment about not knowing mum’s motivations; I tried to convey the tension that can exist between what you believe is right, and what you feel is right. I remembered what it was like for gay children when I was growing up. Parents would be very strict in discouraging any signs of homosexual behaviour in their children, to the point of corporal punishment. And yet those parents felt deep love for their children, and would say that their actions were based on love. It’s also worth remembering that even in Western society, criticism of the armed forces and a reluctance to serve, is described as cowardice by the majority of the population.

      Liked by 1 person

      • All true, Penny, though I’d say – outside of a war situation – we are less likely to condemn men for avoiding conflict now in the UK than we used to be. Took our son to see the film Dunkirk yesterday and wondered at the fact many of those lads shown fighting and dying would have only been a few years older than my son is now. It’s a war film of our times, trying to be more understanding of men who might have been considered cowards at the time. Times have changed.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear Penny,

    This goes right along with a testimony I heard from a young N. Korean refugee. Her mother warned her to be careful what she said and to whom. I feel for Hyo. She’s really between a rock and a harder than hard place. Well done.



    Liked by 1 person

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