We visited the beach at Nampho. Under playful protest, Ms. Song had donned a frilly one-piece bathing suit and red rubber cap to join me in the surf. We threw a Frisbee back and forth. When it landed short and splashed her, she smiled as she swore, “American imperialist!”
Whenever I teased her, she would laugh and threaten to throw me in jail. On two occasions, she bumped her head as she ducked into the van. I offered to buy her a helmet.
“What kind of helmet do you want?” I asked.
“US Army helmet,” she said.
“You already have plenty of those in the basement of your war museum,” I chided, “down with all the rest of your trophies—the burned out tanks and planes.”
“Those helmets are all worn out,” she replied. “I want a new one.”
We climbed all afternoon and stood on the peak of Mount Paektu. “I don’t care you’re American,” she said finally, breaking the silence.
I didn’t know what to say. I said, “Thank you.”