Anne Applebaum

In Korea, Rituals of Absurdity

Step out of the bus, walk across the courtyard, stop in front of the low-built, blue buildings: Here, in the Joint Security Area — a neutral space between North and South Korea, under U.N. jurisdiction since the 1953 armistice — is one of the world’s weirdest scenes.

The Smart Money in Afghanistan

Kabul — The scene is a small textile factory in a new industrial park on the outskirts of Kabul; the characters are an Afghan businessman, his American partner and a USAID official, the latter straight out of central casting: flustered, important, accompanied by gun-wielding bodyguards.

When China Starved

Cymbals clashed; a giant scroll unfurled. There were fireworks, kites, “ancient soldiers” marching in formation, modern dancers bending their bodies into impossible shapes, astronauts, puppets, children, multiple high-tech gizmos.

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