Rouge versus Rogue

This is the first in a series of articles that attempt to put the record straight about mistakes we often see online. In this first article I look at a mistake that always makes me mentally twitch every time I read it – rouge instead of rogue.

What you want: Rogue

Rogue, pronounced rōɡ, is a dishonest or unprincipled man. It can refer to thieves, ruffians, rapscallions or anyone of an untrusting or criminal sort. A rogue is the opposite of law-abiding, someone who cares only for himself.

In many RPG games, the rogue is usually the thief, acrobat, trap master and backstabber. They are often a part of an adventuring party.  These kind of skills are useful when exploring dungeons full of monsters, traps and treasure.

Nethack, a popular roguelike.
Nethack, a popular roguelike.

In the same vein, a roguelike is a type of game in which you play a solitary adventurer.  The adventurer explores a dungeon, fighting monsters  along the way.  The aim is to find ever more valuable magical items, spells and treasure. They have a particular style that usually involves ASCII graphics and turn-based gameplay.  They are almost always single player games.

What you used: Rouge

“Ladies pinch, whores use rouge.” – Jacqueline Bouvier

Rouge, pronounced ro͞oZH, is the French word for red. In English it is a kind of make-up used to brighten the cheeks. It is usually a red powder which people apply using a brush.

There are various shades of rouge
There are various shades of rouge

An alternative to using rouge is to pinch the cheeks to brighten them.  I believe you have to pinch them quite hard for this to work, which can be painful.

Rougelikes do not exist; although according to Urban Dictionary they are:

“A postmodern fantasy where a modern feminist can face off against the suffocatingly chauvinist entities of make-up.”

I’m still pretty sure they don’t exist though.

Why It Happens

This is common spelling mistake. I’m almost convinced that more people spell it the wrong way (this means it could become the right way).

There are only three words in English that end with -ouge: rouge, gouge, and the more obscure scrouge. So it seems strange that people always get it wrong. I think it’s because there are a lot of words that have ‘ou’ in the middle so people assume that rogue must be spelt the same way.

I also think it’s got something to do with having a single ‘e’ after a single consonant changes the sound to a long vowel (e.g. rob vs. robe). In this line of thinking, it would make sense that rogue should end in -ge, as that would make the ‘o’ sound a long ‘o’.

A Solution…?

So what about spelling it ‘roge’? Dropping the U would certainly stop any confusion. Then again there have been many attempts to standardise spelling in the English language (or should that be standardize?). These have never worked out, so I guess people will always just spell things however they like.

Kaeson Youth Park

In North Korea they have a saying: Pyongyang isn’t a city with many parks. It is a city inside a big park. So after a day of looking at monuments and statues we went to Kaeson Youth Park.

Kaeson Youth Park is a popular amusement park in Pyongyang. It has several rides in good condition, including a roller coaster. Several of the locals filled the place and were clearly having a good time.

Entrance to Kaeson Youth Park
Entrance to Kaeson Youth Park

Being the tourists we they let us jump the queues. Being short on time they only allowed for two rides. The first one we decided to ride was the pendulum ride.

I have a shameful confession to make. I’ve never been one for scary amusement park rides. For some reason when it comes to shaking hunks of metal hurling people along twisting and turning tracks I get a bit more than nervous.

Pendulum Ride
Pendulum Ride

There were a couple of us that decided not to ride. I could have made an excuse and stayed with them. Unfortunately pride got in the way and forced me to ride the pendulum for the first time in my life.

I actually found it quite fun and not as scary as I imagined it to be. Once it got going I enjoyed it. This mustn’t have been clear to the others though, as one person commented that I managed to turn whiter than usual.

Kaeson Youth Park
Kaeson Youth Park

The second ride we chose was the swing ride. Again, this was my first time on one of these. I shared a seat with my girlfriend. Much to her amusement I did not like this one at first.

Thankfully I got used to it. It was pretty amazing to be able to pick out landmarks such as the Grand People’s Study House while spinning through the air.

After our second ride we headed back. No gift shop this time, just back to Yanggakdo to drink a few beers before retiring.

Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum

The Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum is a memoir of the Korean War. It houses various war relics, captured UN vehicles and the USS Pueblo. It is an impressive museum that unfortunately contains a fair amount local propaganda.

We met our museum guide at the entrance to the museum: a young woman dressed in military garb. I’m not sure if this was for show or if she actually held rank, but I think she was military.

We walked towards the entrance of the museum building as she pointed out the vehicles captured by North Korea during the war. We didn’t get close to them, but from what I could tell they were in pretty good condition.

Before we went into the museum building we she showed us the USS Pueblo. This was a US spy ship captured by North Korea in 1968 for violating their territory. A few crew members died during the skirmish. North Korea eventually released all those captured in return for a confession from the USA.

We followed our guide onto the ship and through the claustrophobic metal corridors. She showed us the shell damage from the original skirmish, circled in red so we didn’t miss them. We squeezed on and passed through a room filled with the spy equipment the Americans used when the ship was active.

We only saw a small part of the inside and came out the other side. It was now time for us to go into the actual museum. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take any pictures of this part which is why you’ll only see pictures of the Pueblo here.

The museum lobby featured a large statue of Kim Jong-Un with elaborate staircases either side. Our museum guide led us up to the second floor. She seated us in a small area with a TV in front of us and played us a small documentary.

The documentary told us how the Korean War started in the eyes of the DPRK: The USA instilled a puppet government in South Korea. Then they tricked South Korea into mounting a surprise attack on North Korea. The DPRK defended itself against this attack and took it upon itself to liberate South Korea from the USA.

It was obvious propaganda, but it was interesting to see that they shifted the blame for the war away from South Korea and onto the USA. Uniting the country is still important to North Koreans which is why they never refer to the country as “North Korea”. They still see the country as one despite the war.

We were short for time so we rushed through the rest of the museum. There was a lot of war memorabilia and several maps showing when certain parts of South Korea were liberated.

The final show piece was a cylindrical diorama depicting the war trenches. Our guide seated us in the middle of the diorama, all facing the same direction. The show started: lights started flashing and sound effects started playing as we slowly rotated. This went on for about ten minutes, but it felt like an eternity. Personally I’d rather have seen more of the actual museum than this, but our guide seemed keen for us to see it.

All we had left to do now was pass by the gift shop on our way out.

Grand People’s Study House

My favourite part of the our Pyongyang tour has to be the Grand People’s Study House. This impressive building houses a library of books, computer archives and music. It is open to all North Koreans for study, as the state encourages constant improvement throughout their lives.

When you first go into the Grand People’s Study House you enter a large marble hall. A white marble statue of Kim Il-Sung seated in a chair watches the entrance from the other side of the room. Either side of the hallway huge escalators take you up into the study house proper.

Our guide introduced us to the man who would show us around the Study House. He had grey hair and seemed so excited to show off the place. He led us up one of the escalators and then took us up some more stairs to the first room he wanted to show us: a large study hall.

The study hall was a large room with several solo desks facing towards the front. It could have doubled as a classroom. A few people were busy studying at some of the desks. On the side we entered was a collection of books in many languages which you could borrow to read and/or study from. Apart from ourselves and our energetic guide the hall was as quiet as you would expect.

He then led us to the next room he wanted to show us. This was one of the computer rooms. The computers filling this room had operating systems that looked like Windows 3.1. Unlike the study hall, every machine was occupied. Our guide told us about the search engine that they had on these computers. He told us, “You can search for anything on them and it will show you everything they have about it.” He then “asked” one of the students for his computer so he could show us. The student was visibly frustrated as he asked each of us where we were from an entered our countries into the search engine. Each time he would point out the number of results for each country. After a few minutes of this he gave the computer back to the student and we went on to one of the music rooms.

Like the other rooms there were several desks laid out, this time with CD players on each one. Our guide rushed over to the side of the room where he pulled one of the many CDs out. He said, “now I will play my favourite song!” It turned out to be a Beatles album and the song he put on was “Hey Jude”.

This man is North Korean and his favourite band is one of my favourite bands. From the city where most of my family was born. This just seemed crazy to me. No matter how far you travel you will always find some connection to home. This was one I was not expecting.

Although the fact that he likes one of the most famous bands ever probably shouldn’t have been that much of a surprise looking back on it.

After listening to a couple more songs he took us out to the balcony. From here we got a great view of Kim Il-Sung Square.

After taking advantage of the photo op we headed back to our bus. We took the exit through the gift shop, of course.

Tower of the Juche Idea

The Tower of the Juche Idea, a.k.a the Juche Tower, sits on the opposite side of Taedong river to the Kim Il-Sung Square. The tower is named after the ideology of Juche – a philosophy created by Kim Il-Sung. This is North Korea’s flavour of communism, mixed with self-sufficiency, nationalism and traditionalism.

We were first shown the outside of the tower where we could wander down to the bank of the river. In front of the tower is the Worker’s Party Monument. This is a sculpture consisting of three statues. Each statue shows the three main parts of society: intellectuals, farmers and workers. The intellectual holds a writing brush at the back, the farmer holds a sickle in the middle and the worker holds a hammer in front.

Our Korean guide explained that the worker was in the front because they were the most important when they built the sculpture. Now, he said, it’s the army that is most important.

Afterwards we went inside the tower. The first thing you see when you go into the tower is a wall full of plaques. Each plaque is from a different country’s Juche study group offering their support for the Juche Idea. We played the game of finding our own country.

Inside the tower there are a few paintings and photos of the Kim’s and a gift shop. You can pay to take an elevator to the top, and I recommend that you do. The tower’s position gives a great view of Pyongyang. You can see Kim Il-Sung Square and the Grand People’s Study House. You can also spot the statues of Kim Il-Sung and Jong-Il. In the distance you can see the unfinished Ryugong Hotel.

I noticed from the top were that the buildings behind the tower were symmetrical. This was no accident: the Koreans had planned this to make the tower look even more impressive from the other side.

We descended the tower and made our way to the bus, but not before stopping off at the gift shop of course.

Monument to Party Founding

The Monument to the Party Founding is perhaps the most well-known monument in the DPRK. Everyone who knows anything about the DPRK has seen a picture of this monument.

The monument, as its name indicates, commemorates the founding of the Korean Worker’s Party (or KWP). It consists of three giant hands holding the symbols of each member of society: writing brush, sickle and hammer. These represent intellectuals, farmers and workers.

Monument to the Party Founding
Monument to the Party Founding

Connecting the hands is a circle to represent unity. Unity is a common theme running throughout everything we saw in North Korea. I saw similar rhetoric in places in South Korea. It seems both governments say they want unity, although I’m not sure I believe either of them.

When I first laid eyes on the monument I felt that I had finally ‘done’ Pyongyang. Apart from the Mansudae Grand Monument this is the thing that defines Pyongyang (to me at least). And just like the statues at Mansudae this thing was a lot bigger in real life.

A local guide showed up and she took us the inside of the monument. I never realised that inside the monument were murals depicting the history of the KWP.

I noticed that in a similar way to the Tower of the Juche Idea, the buildings flanking the monument were symmetrical. This seems to be the way that the DPRK designs places in Pyongyang and it makes the city look a lot more impressive.

So with our pictures taken we headed back to the bus to find out what the next step in our tour would be.

Arch of Triumph and North Korean Hotpot

Arch of Triumph (Korean Style)

When we came out of the subway we were right next to Pyongyang’s own Arch of Triumph. Korea built it to commemorate Korea’s resistance to Japan between 1925 and 1945.

They modelled it after Paris’ own Arch of Triumph and everyone knows that this one is bigger. Yet not everyone knows that this is only the second biggest in the world. That title belongs to the Monumento a la Revolución in Mexico City (I guess that’s another item added to my bucket list).

We took some pictures, but unfortunately we didn’t get to go inside as we were just there to catch a bus. Our next destination: another type of hotpot. This time the kind that was once eaten from a soldier’s helmet…

Hotpot (Also Korean Style)

Our bus took us to a hotpot restaurant somewhere else in Pyongyang. Korean hotpot was originally eaten out of helmets during the Korean War. At the time it probably followed the same recipe as my Grandad’s Scouse: whatever you can find throw it in the pot and boil it.

Nowadays it consists of ramen noodles, egg, vegetables and meat. We each got an individual pot and our guides showed us which order to throw the food in. Once it was all cooked we got to eat my favourite Korean dish of all time.

Pyongyang Metro

Our Korean tour guides took us to ride the Pyongyang Metro through the city. We were lucky enough to be able to stop at four stations, something which very few tourists have done before.

We went into the Metro at Puhung station. We skipped the queue and went straight through to the escalator. This escalator felt longer than the one in Angel station in London – the only other long escalator I’ve ever been on.

At the bottom we our tour guide showed us the route we were going to take. There was a little board that lights up showing the route that you would take through the city when you ride the metro. Unfortunately this one wasn’t working so we didn’t get the full effect.

Metro Map
Metro Map

We descended the stairs to the actual platform. This place was absolutely huge – a large wide open space with murals covering every wall. Along the middle of the platform were posts with newspapers inside them. Many people would stand by them and read the latest news while they waited for their train.

The trains themselves looked like they were from the 40s. When I heard Gareth selling this tour once he said that it was like going through a time machine. Seeing these trains I felt like I had been transported to a time when trains were still fairly new to most of the world.

Another train pulled up and we were told to board this one. The train’s interior was covered with wood panelling adding to the feel of being in another time. The train began moving and we were off to the next stop.

Aboard the old train
Aboard the old train

At Yongwang station we disembarked to look around. This station was lined with huge arches and murals of Pyongyang on both sides of the river.

We got onto the next train and proceeded to Kaeson which was to be our destination. The next stop was closed so we went straight through. I only saw it briefly, but it was pretty dark – none of the lights were switched on.

At our final stop we were met with a (less) giant statue of the leader.

Kim Il-Sung’s Birthplace

On our way to visit the birthplace of Kim Il-Sung, where his family lived while he studied in China, our tour guide told us a story about him. When Kim Il-Sung heard that North Korea was in trouble he walked 2000km on foot in 2 weeks to get back to his hometown and save the Korean people. After a quick bit of mental arithmetic I realised that this was physically impossible.

For those who don’t know Kim Il-Sung became the Russian-backed Chairman of North Korea after the Second World War and holds the position of President of the DPRK to this day. When they refer to the President, they are still referring to Kim Il-Sung. Kim Jong-Il became (and still is) the General Secretary, and Kim Jong-Un (the current living head-of-state) holds the position of Supreme Commander.

The bus took us out of Pyongyang while our Korean tour guide told us jokes. The bus took us to the outskirts of Pyongyang. Before we arrived we could see schoolkids being led up a path towards the house. Dragonflies buzzed all over as we got off the bus. We were led up the same path everyone else was walking and came to the former home of Kim Il-Sung.

Kim Il-Sung's Birthplace
Kim Il-Sung’s Birthplace

As we were tourists we were allowed to jump the queue of people waiting to go inside. Inside we were shown the various rooms that Kim Il-Sung and his family stayed in.

We were shown the tools that Kim Il-Sung’s family used when they were farmers before Kim Il-Sung’s return.

There were a couple of stories told to use here. One was that Kim Il-Sung’s grandfather used to walk around on an bent and useless walking stick, but that when Kim Il-Sung returned and became President he was able to give him a new straight walking stick. Another story was that his mother had to carry around rice in a bent and broken barrel, but when Kim Il-Sung returned he was able to give them new barrels.

The place was obviously designed to show that Kim Il-Sung was from a poor farming background, that he was a working man. There is likely some truth to this, but there are some obviously tall tales told about him, though none as ridiculous as you will read in Western media.

After seeing his home we were taken to a nearby well. It is said that if you drink from this well you will live a long and healthy life. We joined the Koreans in drinking from the well who were more than happy to share it with us. After which we said our goodbyes we headed back to the bus to head out to our next destination.

Mansudae Grand Monument

We start our tour of Pyongyang with a visit to the Mansudae (Mansu Hill) Grand Monument, which is overlooked by two giant bronze statues. Our tour bus dropped us at Mansudae Fountain Park at the foot of Mansu Hill. Overlooking the park was the Grand People’s Study House, the National Library of the DPRK.

As we got off the bus a woman was waiting with some flowers to sell us so that we could lay them at the foot of the statue. We didn’t have to, but I figured I’d buy some as this might be the only time I visit this place.

The fountains in the fountain park weren’t turned on due to the weather being too misty. This was also probably because we were there so early in the morning as we had a lot to fit in. The fountains were statues of traditional dancing ladies. It was pretty nice, but far from the most impressive fountain I’d ever seen.

We walked through to the other side of the fountain park were the bus was waiting for us. On the way I noticed there were a lot of dragonflies flying around – which I was surprised to see in the middle of a city. The bus took us up to the top of Mansudae to see the statues.

Now, I knew the statues were big, but seeing them was still a shock. They were a lot bigger than I was expecting them to be. I mean, they were huge. Any pictures you may have seen of these don’t do them justice. The attention to detail in the statues was also extremely impressive – the textures on the clothes were amazingly realistic.

Those of us that bought flowers were instructed to walk up to the statues and place the flowers at the base. We had to approach one-by-one and place the flowers. After everyone lined up and we all bowed to the statues at the same time. It felt weird bowing to these guys, but I knew it was something that we had to do when we visited the country. I figured it was more about paying respect to the guides who were taking us around the country rather than to the Kims themselves.

The statues themselves are huge!
The statues themselves are huge!

We were now allowed to take photos of the statues. We were instructed to only take pictures that included the whole statue – taking only the torso, for example, could be seen as an insult.

Initially only the statue of Kim Il-Sung stood here, but after Kim Jong-Il’s death in 2012 another statue was added in his honour. I noticed that the faces of the two statues were exactly the same which I found a little odd. It’s almost as if they were supposed to be the same person.

After a few minutes what looked like soldiers arrived at the statue and lined up in front of it. We were told not to take any photos of them – anything military is right out in the DPRK. We meandered back to the bus, leaving them to do their thing.