The North Koreans whom I got to know were from the outer elite of Pyongyang.These were not the inner elite of the regime, who live in some luxury and rarely if ever interact with foreigners.David Davis has warned he is ready to walk away from Brexit talks if Brussels demands a €100billion divorce bill.
In between wrestling with these issues, and despite the efforts of the North Korean regime to block contacts between its citizens and foreigners, I managed to get to know some North Koreans reasonably well – at least to the extent that they were prepared to discuss with me their lives and how they saw the world.
When I asked my contacts what these meetings were about they told me that they did not remember.
At first, I thought they were politely saying that they were not going to tell me, but I once came across an open-air political meeting at which the audience all appeared to have glazed eyes, despite the best efforts of the speaker.
Perhaps my contacts were telling the truth – that they effectively entered a kind of catatonic state in these meetings, simply switching off, and genuinely could not remember what they were about. Some told me that whenever possible they would walk – a longer journey but much less frustrating.
Some of my contacts refused to use the Pyongyang metro because of the risk of a power cut while they were in a tunnel.
The divorce demand is now expected to include money they claim is still owed by Britain from the period 2007 to 2013.