Our Otto

I hesitated about writing this post but as I’m fairly certain the subject will never read it, here it is.

A lone Canadian on our North Korea tour became known within the group as “our Otto“. Things looked interesting from the start when he downed a bottle of wine (from the bottle) on arrival at Pyongyang airport. Over the course of the trip he:

  • lost his room key (several times)
  • approached children in the street for photographs
  • tried to hit on the local waitresses/guides/our guide
  • bought large bottles of spirits everywhere we went (“I collect alcohol”)
  • rejected the food (Canada has the best food in the world)
  • continually wandered away from the group (expressly forbidden)
  • tried to leave the hotel at night (expressly forbidden)
  • shouted the Korean words for “I love you” from the tour bus at random women
  • told dubious tales about his job, wealth and horde of ex-girlfriends (all of whom he still has sex with)
  • talked about commissioning a waxwork of himself after we saw one in an art gallery (me to Bernd “at least with that material they’ll capture the glazed look in his eyes”)

I felt sorry for his roommate, a nice Irish guy who often found himself searching the hotel late at night so he could get into their room (they were only allowed one key). I heard him say that if our wayward friend was arrested and sent to a labour camp it would be “a blessing”.

I also had much sympathy for our local guide Mr Kwak who was assigned to him from day 2 and had to shadow him everywhere he went. As was continually pointed out to us, our conduct as individuals reflected on the entire group so some members of our party were understandably anxious about the behaviour noted above.

Despite this, our rogue fellow traveller was a friendly and outgoing guy who made friends wherever he went. A somewhat lonely guy, I suspect, looking for love and adventure in North Korea – possibly the worst country on earth to seek either of those things.

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