MacDonalds and North Korea

I just ran across an article put out by Reuters that says MacDonalds plans to double the number of restaurants they have in China by 2013.  (GZILLIONS SOLD)

As I read it I couldn't help thinking about a cultural outing I took with a Chinese professor many years ago.  At least twice a month we would go to one of Beijing's museums or exhibition halls.  They were fantastic language learning experiences and a great way to view some of these through the eyes of a Chinese person.  One of the fun things about my professor was that he was open to discussing any topic.  On my first day studying with him he'd informed me that since he wasn't a party member we could discuss anything I wanted.  He had a unique ability to look at and analyze Chinese culture and society objectively, without spouting party or cultural platitudes. He also had a great sense of humor.  My four years of studying with him was like spending time in socio-linguistic gold mine.

One spring day we headed off to the Military Museum, on the west side of Beijing.  We worked our way through all of the exhibits of military hardware and eventually ended up on the top floor, which was dedicated to a special exhibit titled "The War Against American Imperialist Agression in Korea." I could tell this was going to be interesting.

As we walked through the room, we had a great time comparing notes as to what we had been taught about this particular war.  Needless to say, the version of events depicted were pretty much opposite of what I had studied. 

Having had my fill of reading the term "American Imperialist Agression,"  I stopped to look out one of the giant windows facing ChangAn Avenue.  The first thing I noticed was a MacDonalds across the street.

"Teacher W," I said, "come over and look out this window.

He did.

"What do you see?" I asked him.

"A MacDonalds restaurant," he replied.

I said, "Does that mean we won?"

He let out a good laugh and said "I think so."

After touring the museum, we popped over to the MacDonalds for something to drink, the irony not lost on either of us.