Kang Pyong-il briskly walks up the stairs of a dimly lit, 10-story Kaesong office building. The 25-year-old is a writer for The Very Glorious and Democratic Times, a state-run satirical news agency. Out of breath, Pyong-il eventually rushes into the top-floor office of his editor, Jang Song-chul.
“Sir, our last article where we said ‘the United States will cease to exist as our mighty nuclear arsenal will crush them’, did not go down well,” Kang said. “They actually took it seriously, they actually take us seriously.”
“Are you for real?” A shocked Jang responded. “Don’t they get that we’re being sarcastic when we say ‘mighty’?”
“No, I think they actually think that North Koreans are stupid enough to think that we can defeat the entire Western World with one or two shoddily made missiles,” Kang said.
The middle-aged editor rubbed his eyes and shook his head in disbelief, “You think?”
“Yep,” Kang nodded. “Oh yeah, and the Americans tried contacting one of their diplomats, Mr Hazel, after the article was published, but they can’t reach him. They think the government is keeping him in a prison or something as a major provocation, and President Trump said they will launch a full scale attack unless we notify them of his condition immediately.”
“What!?” Jang barked as he abruptly rose to his feet.
“Don’t worry, I know Greg Hazel and spoke to him two days ago and he’s fine,” Sang said. “He’s based in Pyongyang and they’re having a bad electricity outage at the moment I’ve heard.”
Jang sighed with relief as he slowly sunk back into his brown leather chair.
“Yeah, he actually said the food at the Yanggkdo Hotel is so irresistible that he locked himself in his room for a day so he doesn’t put on too much weight,” Kang said.
“Wow, he must be hungry now,” Jang grinned.
“He said he’s starving to death,” Kang chuckled.
Jang pointed to a business card at the top right corner of his mahogany desk, “there’s the number we have for the US State Department, call them now and say he’s fine and let them know they will be able to speak to him in a day or two.”
“No problem,” Kang said.
“Remember that we’re on thin ice, so let’s keep it very short and quote exactly what he said, so there won’t be any confusion,” Jang said as Kang began to dial.
Kang nodded and winked, “got it.”
But Kang’s heart began to race as the sound of the phone dialing was interrupted by a woman’s shrill voice, “Hi, this is Jennifer Terry from the State Department, how can I help?”
“Hello, I am Kang Pyong-il from The Very Glorious and Democratic Times and I am calling to inform you about Mr Hazel’s condition,” Kang said stiffly.
“Alright, please go ahead,” Jennifer replied.
“Mr Hazel’s condition is that he is starving,” Kang hastily said.
Jang’s eyes began to widen and he once again rose to his feet abruptly.
Jennifer was startled, “Excuse me!?”
Kang began to panic, “Uh…I-I mean Mr Hazel is, to quote, ‘starving to death’ and you can speak to hi-hello….HELLO!?”
There was a brief silence.
“DID THEY HANG UP!? CALL AGAIN QUICKLY!” Jang yelled as he rushed over to Kang.
Kang frantically dialled and re-dialled over the next minute as Jang anxious paced the room, but there was no response.
“You idiot! She must’ve left to tell the President what you said,” Jang cried as he took the jacket off the back of his chair and frantically rushed out the room.
“Where are you going boss?” Kang shrieked.
Jang replied, “To try and spend the last few moments I have with my family before we’re all vaporized.”
Originally posted at the Writing Prompts sub-Reddit. Prompt: “You are an editor for the North Korean state-run satirical news agency, catering to the populace’s very developed sense of humor. Recently, you’ve started to realize that the satire isn’t translating very well, and other countries are taking your stories seriously.”