Marshfield Rotary Noon Club
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Rotary Member of the Week
Gwen Condon
Gwen is the branch manager of the Investment Concepts Mid-State office in Marshfield. She graduated with a BS in Genetics at UW-Madison, completed the Certified Financial Planning educational program at Bryant University, and obtained her FSCP designation from the American College of Business. Originally from the Milwaukee area, Gwen is married with four adult children. Her hobbies include skiing, kayaking, tennis, travel and dance. A rotary member since 1996, Gwen transferred into Marshfield Rotary in 2016.
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A First Hand Glimpse of North Korea

John Neu (brother of Rotarian Gwen Condon), traveled to North Korea, the most isolated country in the world, in a group of four. The group had to turn in their cell phones at the airport since using one could get you in prison. The North Koreans love to build monuments to war heroes and propaganda decorates many things, from buildings to signage to buses. It also is meant to take the people’s minds off their hunger and suffering. They live with no heat in their homes; lights go off at 10 p.m. They learn math. Here’s a math problem from one of their math books: “If you have 15 American bastards and you kill 11 of them, how many American bastards do you have left?” Children are told throughout their lives that Americans are bad and they’re taught to fear Americans.

Everything is done en masse. There is no individuality, there is no individual thought. People dress alike. For example, all teachers wear the same outfit. The government issues clothes to people; there is no such thing as department stores. There are no individual homes. People live in big apartment buildings that look alike. You don’t want an apartment on a higher floor because you have to walk the steps since there is no power for elevators.

Primary transportation is buses; only the very privileged have cars. It is a privilege to be a traffic lady, but there’s hardly any work to do because there are very few vehicles, even in cities of more than 300,000 people. There is a large rail system, again for the privileged, but it’s all in bad shape. Trains operate when they get there. Kids at the train stations try to steal food – most of them are abandoned or their parents have died.

When heading to the demilitarized zone (ironically, the DMZ is the most militarized zone in the world), the group noticed no mechanization because there is no fuel and farming is done by hand. No one goes into the DMZ; for 60 years it’s been off-limits. A defector doesn’t tell his family if he tries to get out of the country since his family will be imprisoned for three generations until the family is considered cleansed.

When the armistice took place in the 1950s, the fighting stopped but a peace treaty was never signed between North Korea and the United Nations, so it’s still like war is going on. South Korea, since it’s so advanced, would not want to take on the people of North Korea since they are so far behind in everything. “It’s safe there because you’ve always got someone watching you,” John said. A saving grace? They did have a brew pub where John was able to get a beer.

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