Chuck never tired of watching the rare Red-crowned Cranes down by the lake. For them, it was peaceful, a happy accident of living in the “Demilitarized Zone” For Chuck, it made it the most magical place in the world. He also got to do the most secret and surreal job here in a ramshackle hut perched right on the border only a few kilometers from the official huts at Panmunjom.
Hwan and he were of an age and shared a love of wildlife. They worked well together so when Hwan emerged from the bushes on the other side. Chuck cheerfully sauntered over to greet him. Technically, this was a breach of the North's sovereignty but no one seemed to care. Perhaps the project was too secret to risk monitoring.
“They're really pleased with you!” said Chuck,
“Yeah! They've sent you extra Whiskey – I got a sore back carrying it”
“Oh thank you! I was worried that we might have gone too far?”
“You mean the little firework display?”
“It was great! It really rattled some cages – and your successful rocket launch has really got people talking”
“Yes, they're talking but mainly they are being rude about us and the Great Leader”
“Sorry about that, it's the price of distracting our media. Writing scary stories about you guys keeps them busy and off our back”
“It's not so bad for us really. We use their stories to prove to our people the conspiracy of the running dogs of the paper tigers of the western lackeys or whatever it is this month”
Both men smiled and they sipped their beers quietly for a few moments.
“I do have a worry – the US has a habit of taking hate campaigns to the next level and invading as with Iraq. This would be bad for us”
“It's a fair point, Hwan, that would be the end of our nice little racket here but it's not likely – a country like the USA needs enemies. Who could we hate if we didn't hate you?
“Don't be silly. They have oil. They're much higher up the list.”