x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

A unicorn tale

Some serious things are going on in North Korea, but the big story of the moment concerns a unicorn.

For a fairly small nation, the DPRK, otherwise known as North Korea, attracts more than its share of headlines. Many of the stories are important: such as the death of leader Kim Jong-il and the ascension of his son Kim Jong-un last December, the periodic unprovoked hostility against its southern neighbour, reports of starvation and deprivation, and concerns about its nuclear-weapons capability and rocket programme.

Then there are reports that are just plain farcical, such as this weekend's "reconfirmation" by North Korean archaeologists of the burial site of the unicorn ridden by King Dongmyeong, founder of the Korean kingdom of Goguryeo which flourished between 37BC and 668AD. (How did they know it was a unicorn's lair? Because there was a nearby sign that said "Unicorn Lair".)

Of course, there was a political purpose behind it all, because its location in Pyongyang can be said to confirm, or "reconfirm", the North Korean capital's claim to being the ancient centre of all Korea.

But unicorns? One can only imagine what North Koreans think when they're taken for such a ride.