North Korea's Unexpected Sleight Of Hand

Published: Thursday, August 2, 2018 - 2:46pm
Updated: Thursday, August 2, 2018 - 4:01pm
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Do you believe in magic? What about magic performed for high-profile foreign dignitaries?

Back in April, when the world was watching, North Korea and South Korea leaders met in a much-anticipated, historic Inter-Korea summit. During the tense talks, North Korea presented one of their best state magicians to a room of diplomats and he turned a 50,000 South Korean won bill into a $100 U.S. bill.

The trick, apparently, was a hit and, beyond sleight of hand, it symbolized good fortune for the talks.

Now, before you go thinking that this is just a three-card monty trick on the part of North Korea — that maybe the country says they’re the greatest at magic but have nothing to back that up — their national magicians association was admitted to the highly prestigious International Federation of Magic Societies in 2012, and they took home several top prizes at the 2018 annual convention, which is like medaling in the Olympics of magic.

Tae-jun Kang, a columnist for The Diplomat, says it’s actually quite fitting that the North Korean government, known the world over for dealing with both allies and enemies — not to mention their own citizens — with smoke and mirrors and doublespeak, has an interest in magic.

But the idea of state-sponsored school for deception does have a darker twist.

The Show talked to Kang and he helped explain the magic behind the North Korean state-run magic industry.

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