1. Stair racing.
I assumed their races are characterized by a mind-numbing sameness, but Walsham assured me I was wrong. “Some stairwells turn to the left,” she said. “Some turn to the right. Sometimes the stairs are shallow, sometimes they’re steep. And the number of floors always varies.”
2. The psychology of lay-offs vs wage cuts. Warning, speculative. “When you’re laid-off, you feel exiled from your group. You’re rejected, unfit, unworthy. Many people in this situation break down and cry. When you face a pay cut, in contrast, you feelbetrayed by your group. You’re insulted, snubbed, scorned.”
3. The lives of North Koreans. Covers the rung just below the top – the “outer elite”.
I was often asked for medicines, but not as often as I was asked for DVDs of television soap operas, usually but not always from South Korea. These portrayed a world of which North Koreans can only dream – of people who eat well in smart restaurants, have their own cars and live in flats where the heating always works – and my contacts devoured them ravenously.