The Pyongyang Restaurant in Amsterdam, which serves Korean food in a North Korean ambience, is in a neighborhood of the city, a $40–50 taxi ride from the historic center, that might from the architectural point of view be called Little Pyongyang. The difference between the domestic architecture of Communist totalitarianism and that of European social democracy is subtle rather than great, a matter more of the quality of the construction than of the design. While party rallies and martial music disturb the deadness of the one, drug trafficking and the young men’s struggle for control of the streets do the same in the other.
How one wanted to question them, to know about their lives both in Korea and in Holland!…Such questions would have caused embarrassment without resulting in illumination, and we refrained from asking them. Our delicacy prevented a confrontation and objectively (to use a Stalinist locution) served the ends of totalitarianism. We pretend to notice nothing, and they pretend to believe that we have noticed nothing. Thus a social virtue — politeness — comes to serve the ends of evil.