This past June the Goethe Institute opened in Pyongyang.
I'd say so: it's the very first foreign cultural center in North Korea.
It offers over 8,000 books, CDs, videos, and German newspapers and magazines - all freely available to any North Korean.
Sure, you could argue that there are probably about seven North Koreans not connected with the government who understand German, but that's not the point.
It's that the Institute exists.
Combine that bit of news with the recent reports filtering out of the locked-down country that pictures of
Kim Jong Il, North Korea's leader, have been coming down from walls all over the country, for no apparent reason, without being returned to their places, and one doesn't have to be under deep cover to realize something is indeed afoot.
You can bet the South is cautiously optimistic: that's because, having watched the fall of the Berlin Wall lead to West Germany's still-struggling efforts to incorporate the East, South Korea wants no part of a sudden collapse of the barriers, both economic and political, between the two countries.
Seoul would much prefer that the North Korean army slowly take the country back from its near-war footing to a more conciliatory, gradual thaw.
But then, I said the CIA and the Pentagon would throw the election to Kerry, so what do I know?