Yesterday evening I attended a presentation organised by the Lancaster University Politics Society. It was a talk by James Hoare – a retired diplomat who has worked as chargé d’affaires in North Korea – about his experience of working in diplomacy and foreign affairs.
While doing a PhDin Japnese studies he was recruited by the FCO and was duly sent off to cover for someone in North Korea, and that was that.
We learned about the history of Korea, especially since 1910 and what it was like living there. He confirmed what we were told about the theoretical practice: that there is a pre-diplomacy stage before formal international relations are acknowledged. During these occasional and factious meetings, there was one he said that went very well when the British representatives talked about bent coppers, thug-like prison officers and corruption in the UK. The honesty thawed the previously difficult communication.
He said we should go as tourists; communication is always good.