The young minder was at his happiest when he borrowed my iPhone. Some North Koreans now have access to cell phones. But the government prohibits ordinary North Koreans from using Internet, e-mail or even making international telephone calls. Mr Koo, however, knew how to navigate my cell phone and quickly immersed himself in several iPhone games. "Do you have Bluetooth?" he asked, since I could not e-mail him a photo I had taken of him.
In Pyongyang, the government mask briefly slipped on the day of the military parade celebrating the war's anniversary. It was scorching hot and humid in the North Korean capital on July 27. Octogenarian veterans wearing uniforms bristling with shiny medals packed bleachers overlooking the parade grounds.
They waited for hours under the hot sun until Kim Jong Un made his appearance in a shaded grandstand overlooking the square named after his grandfather. Soldiers and citizens then spent the next several hours, goose-stepping and cheering in the summer heat to the music of a military marching band.
Finally, sometime around noon, the Respected Leader waved goodbye. The moment he left, both parade participants and spectators crumpled to the ground. Many were clearly victims of heat stroke and exhaustion.
I saw a soldier, wearing the full dress uniform of his marching band, nearly unconscious in the tiny spot of shade made by his stand of cymbals. An elderly veteran sat gasping on the sidewalk in another spot of shade, visibly distraught.
CNN's cameraman David Hawley ran to a civilian woman who lay heaving on a curb, handing her our last bottle of water. She took the bottle as two of her friends helped carry her away.
There was no other apparent source of water or hydration for the masses of people who had been performing in the square. The organizers of this spectacle of North Korean military might did not appear to have taken into account the inevitable dehydration of their citizens.
That night, the government summoned foreign dignitaries and its most elite supporters for yet another show of patriotism. After making the crowd wait for hours, Kim Jong Un occupied a throne at one end of a park next to his guest of honor, the vice president of China. They watched as a spectacular fireworks display erupted above the newly-inaugurated "Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum."
I looked at the crowd of North Koreans. In nearly every row, it seemed there was at least one exhausted spectator fast asleep, oblivious to the victory fireworks exploding in front of their faces.