London semi where North Korean Supreme leader's man keeps watch… on The X Factor
North Korean embassy is based near Acton Town tube station in a bay-windowed 1920s homeCarry On star Sid James lived down the same streetThe wife of Korean ambassador Hyon Hak Bong went out shopping as normal on Friday despite tensions in North Korea
Mail On Sunday Reporter
21:02 GMT, 6 April 2013
21:47 GMT, 6 April 2013
There is an unlikely corner of England that is forever North Korea.
To get there, turn left out of Acton Town Tube station, right at the BP garage and walk past the cricket ground, but not quite as far as the mock-Tudor semi with the blue plaque where Carry On star Sid James lived.
The UK embassy of the world’s most oppressive regime is the bay-windowed Twenties house on the corner of Gunnersbury Avenue and Baronsmede. The one with the curtains and blinds permanently drawn. A little piece of Pyongyang in Ealing, West London.
North Korea… in London: The embassy in Ealing close to Acton Town Tube station where ambassador Hyon Hak Bong lives
Even with a 40ft flagpost, it is barely distinguishable from all the other houses in the area. Any one of them could provide the backdrop to a Seventies suburban sitcom; in fact The Fall And Rise Of Reginald Perrin was filmed just down the road.
One might expect this curious diplomatic mission – it doubles as the residence of North Korea’s ambassador Hyon Hak Bong – to be a blur of activity. After all, the Supreme Leader’s twitchy finger appears to edge closer to the nuclear button by the day.
True, Bong is said to be more ‘unavailable’ than normal. But it was business as usual for everyone else. On Friday his wife went out shopping.
Honour: Hyon Hak Bong, the North Korean ambassador, presents his credentials to the Queen in a private audience at Buckingham Palace last year
There was one thing, though. Notices pinned to the 7ft-high garden wall warn residents not to park outside it on Tuesday April 9, when ‘loading work will take place’.
No one knows what work is due, but Kim Jong-un has warned the Russian and British embassies in Pyongyang to evacuate their staff ‘in the event of conflict from April 10’.
Could it mean Bong and his team intend to scarper the day before things turn nasty Or perhaps the embassy is taking delivery of a deadly missile launcher
Farce: Sid James lived down the same street and there is a blue plaque on the property he used to live in
A diplomat in a dark shirt wasn’t in the mood to enlighten The Mail on Sunday when approached at the edge of the embassy’s driveway, where two blue Mercedes were parked.
The reporter’s outstretched hand was eyed suspiciously before he shook it.
Could we speak to the ambassador
‘No,’ came the firm reply.
How about the press attach ‘No.’
But one of the neighbours said they were nice people. ‘We had some of the diplomats round for a drink once,’ he said. ‘They told us they love England.
‘But I suppose that’s no surprise coming from North Korea, is it One of them said he was a big fan of The X Factor.’
Danger: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has repeatedly ramped up the rhetoric in recent weeks threatening a military strike