60 Minutes tonight had a story about Charles Robert Jenkins, the army sergeant who got drunk and deserted his U.S. Army post in Korea. He spent almost forty years in North Korea, and was only allowed to leave the country last year. In the interview, Jenkins describes what it was like being a prisoner of the regime, and they even show clips of the movies Jenkins was forced to star in, usually in stereotypical roles like The Evil American.
Jenkins was described by reporter Scott Pelley as a "modern day Rip Van Winkle" who had never seen a computer, didn't know what a Big Mac was. Watching the video is well worth it if you have the time.
What a different world we're in in 2005, as opposed to 1965. 1965 was the year my parents came to North America, leaving England in search of a better life. I've grown up in between two cultures, England and America, and I've spent my life wanting to be somewhere else other than here. It's deep in my family history. My great grandfather moved from England to Malta. His son went from Malta to England. My dad went from England to North America. And me?
We live in a different world than any of my forebears inhabited. I can instantly communicate with my family three thousand miles away. At the moment, I'm listening to Virgin Radio over the web, hearing all the latest advertisements. The M25 is closed between junctions 5 and 6 as I type this.
I've never listened to British commercial radio before. I've only recently become a listener of commercial radio in the U.S. My radio career was influenced by British radio, in particular that of the BBC, and the fact that I ended up in public radio has something to do with this. I'm still in public radio, but I've widened my horizon to accomodate other opportunities. Wordcast is a for-profit venture, after all, though CPN will hopefully evolve into a non-profit. I'm temporarily not categorizing things while the whole business model sorts itself out.
England is always going to be beckoning me, influencing me, helping me to sort out who I am, where I come from. In addition to supporting my new family, I'll be trying to earn money to travel over to England at least once a year. I've been over twice in the last year, to see Henry, and to lay down the foundation of a possible emigration of my own.
But, I live in a world where I might not ever have to choose one country over the other. Every day I listen to Virgin Radio while I walk my dog, thanks to podcasting. Imagine being like Charles Robert Jenkins, walking back into a world that is becoming more connected, stronger through the weaving of information through ones and zeroes.
What will it be like in 2045? Where will Henry end up? Rootlessness runs in my family, but again, roots are taking on a new form. We're all leaving trails every day of where we were, what we did, what we saw. Where is this all going to go?
To steal an audience-stealing technique from television, stay tuned.