“Apollo,” he began, as if addressing a tribe of Kalahari bushmen who knew nothing of the modern world, “was the name of a U.S. space program that landed men on the moon. There were six landings between 1969 and 1972. Apollo 11 through 17. They left a small American flag at each site.”
Everyone, with the exception of Max, laughed. “You’re making that up,” Hyon-hui giggled. “Nobody’s been to the moon!”
Mitch shook his head. “Apollo 11. 1969. Neil Armstrong stepped out and said, ‘That’s one small step for a man. One giant leap for mankind.’ Probably the most well known phrase of the Twentieth Century.” They just stared. How could they not know. “Haven’t you ever seen the photograph of the Earth taken from Apollo 14?” They hadn’t and refused to believe any of it.
Mitch remembered, as they’d been preparing to leave on the Mikisan Maru, how he’d felt the United States and Korea were more alike than he could have imagined. The bureaucracy. The waste. That was before P’yongyang. He’d been a fool to think that, even for an instant. Sure, there were lazy and corrupt administrators everywhere. But the United States, even at its worst, was nothing like this and never had been. Nowhere on Earth was like this place.
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