Eric Bischoff Reflects on WCW’s Controversial Shows in North Korea
In an interview with Fightful, WWE Hall of Famer and former WCW President Eric Bischoff spoke about WCW’s infamous trip to North Korea in 1995 recently featured on Dark Side of the Ring, along with some tidbits that weren’t featured in the episode. Below are some highlights.
Eric Bischoff on the topic of the North Korea tour not coming up very often: “No. It very rarely it comes up, unless it’s in the context of wrestling conversation. The average person doesn’t know that I went over there. It was such a fascinating trip and experience. If you want to know about what North Korea is like, we’re getting a good look at it here in this country. Because what used to be news is now quickly becoming propaganda. I mean this across the board, I’m not picking on any one outlet or any political party. It’s all becoming so muddied and politicized and weaponized that we’re not getting news information. We’re getting propaganda.It’s hard for us as Americans or anybody that’s grown up in a relatively free society or free country to really understand how much impact propaganda can have on people. When those people, I referred the people when I went jogging through Pyongyang, North Korea, they had absolute terror in their eyes. I mean that. There’s a difference between people you look at somebody and they’re kind of uncomfortable with you or you can tell they just don’t want to be around you. That’s one thing. Terror is something completely different. It’s actually frightening to see. They were so terrified of my presence because of the propaganda that they’d been taught for years and years and years.”
Bischoff on a story that wasn’t featured on DSOTR: “I’m gonna go off on a little bit of a tangent here ‘cause it didn’t get covered in the Vice episode. But, there was a moment when, as the North Koreans were touring us around Pyongyang and seeing all the sights, paying homage to the Dear Leader and all the things we had to do for publicity reasons or propaganda reasons, I should say. They took us to what is basically a replica of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, right? They told us this history of this monument that was built to honor the 50,000 dead North Koreans who perished at the hands of American bombers. I don’t know how much of that is true, if a little bit of it is true or not true, whatever. During that conversation the person who was taking us on this tour and telling us about this monument, proceeded to tell us that the North Koreans defeated the Japanese in World War II. The military leaders of North Korea don’t know anything about World War II. They only know the North Korean version of it. They’re taught from a very young age—now, I’m sixty-six years old—and the military leaders that are over there right now in North Korean, a majority of them are younger than I am, and they know even less about what really happened in World War II. So now, you’ve got a country with nuclear warheads who have no idea what history really was because they’ve been taught a fabricated version of that. The same thing is happening in this country. So, if you want to know what North Korea is like, just look around you. Because we’re getting there.”
Eric Bischoff on how his handler instructed him not to rape their women: “No, there was no prep by anybody. Look, when we got off the plane, the first thing they did was take your passports. So, the message was clearly sent, that they are in control. You got that message loud and clear the minute you get off the airplane. Shortly after we got off the plane and we got segregate into cars, two people to a car, we had handlers who essentially gave us the rules of the road. I was told specifically, my handler was a female—their version of Secret Service, I guess—and she turned around to look at me and said, ‘Now, whatever you do, don’t rape our women.’ Sonny Onoo was sitting next to me and I looked at Sonny and I’m thinking, ‘Did she just say…’ She goes, ‘Yes.’ Matter of fact. You cannot rape our women. ‘Well, okay. Let me make a note of that.’ So, you got the impression right away. She knew right off the bat they were in total control and the message was loud and clear.”