Missing Tourist Shows Up with Op-Ed in North Korean Newspaper

Hey, has anyone seen Dutch stamp collector Willem van der Bijl? He went to North Korea in July to buy some of the country's stamps, and his family hasn't heard from him since. Oh! There he is! In the Pyongyang Times, extensively praising North Korean elections in a personal essay!

Van der Bijl is, according to BNO News, "a known admirer of North Korea and its propaganda paintings," but—unusually—he hasn't spoken to anyone in the Netherlands since July 18. So it came as something of a surprise to see the 59-year-old philatelist with a byline in the state-run Pyongyang News!

Excellent election system

This is my 24th visit to the DPRK, but it is the first time I have ever visited a polling station here.

Looking round the poll, I have been greatly impressed by the free and democratic elections and I have had a better understanding of the DPRK's reality.

In the DPRK every citizen is eligible to vote and to be elected. Those who have worked a lot for the people are elected as deputies.

The popular election system of the DPRK is really excellent.

What I'd like to say more is that whenever I visit the country I can see more and more modern structures rising here and there. And I realize the developing reality of the country.

I will come to the DPRK in 2012 to join the Korean people commemorating the hundredth anniversary of the birth of President Kim Il Sung.

His family has been trying to reach him, but apparently the North Korean government is somewhat difficult to work with. (Who knew!)

Also, from one blogger to another, and this is really a minor point compared with the whole thing about you possibly being coerced to write propaganda for a starving totalitarian terror-state, but we noticed a minor error: DPRK elections are not, actually, "free and democratic." So, in the future, Willem, you might want to fact-check a little bit! Best of luck in your new career!

[BNO News, Pyongyang Times; image via AP]