Continued from page 2

Like so much else in North Korea, the urban divide is really about the politics of single-family rule.

Pyongyang grew after the Korean War into a showcase of Stalinist propaganda. It is a city of hulking government buildings, enormous stadiums, broad avenues and omnipresent monuments celebrating the lives of founding ruler Kim Il-sung and his son and successor, Kim Jong-il.

It was proof to the world, the regime believed, of the victory of totalitarian socialism. More important, it was also a way to reward the regime’s key supporters and to keep them close.

Pyongyang is a closed city, sealed off by security forces that monitor movement at dozens of checkpoints. North Koreans cannot move there, or even visit, without official permission.