Photo by Karl Baron
This week's news that North Korea are planning on shooting a rocket into the sky – in an attempt to put a satellite into orbit – has got a lot of people scared. Whether that's because they're worried the "satellite launch" is a Rizla-thin veil for a ballistic missile test, or because they're worried how it's going to affect the country's unicorn lair, I can't be sure. But what I do know is that it's thrown up all sorts of questions about which country is the scariest in the world.
Is it China with their immense power and appalling human rights? Is it America with its relaxed gun laws and crippling social injustices? Is it Switzerland and they're just really good at making people think they're all chill, when really they regularly use those little knives to stab adolescent tourists? I wasn't sure, so I went and asked strangers in London a question to help me work it out: What's the scariest country in the world?
Kerry, 29, PA: The scariest country to me would have to be Afghanistan.
VICE: Why's that?
Because I just feel like it’s not somewhere I'd want to go to on holiday. It doesn’t seem particularly appealing as a holiday destination, you know? I certainly wouldn’t be happy flying over it.
I'm afraid a lot of commercial flights fly over Afghanistan, Kerry. What's the safest country in the world?
That's a difficult one because I think most countries are kind of scary. But I've heard that New Zealand is lovely. It's all just green and lambs and hobbits.
Kirsty, 32, teacher: Papua New Guinea, hands down. A lot of Western women get raped there.
Surely just don't go, then?
I haven't. I was supposed to be going there, though, and my trip got cancelled at the last minute. So that was pretty scary. That's what got me worried about ever having to go there.
This sounds quite harrowing.
It is. Everywhere's scary in one way or another, though. Every country has its terrifying elements. In fact, America is probably the least scary country of all.
Phillipa, 23, recruitment consultant: Oh god. I’m going to say something and it’s not going to be a country.
Give it a go.
Well, you know Colombia? That’s not a country is it?
It is a country.
No, I don’t think it is. It’s part of South America.
South America’s a continent.
Okay, moving on – why is Colombia the scariest?
Because you hear about loads of dodgy things going on there. Loads of drugs. That’s what I’ve heard, at least. I kind of still want to go there, but I wouldn't be going for the danger aspect.
Just for the drugs?
No, no, just because it’s meant to be lovely.
Will, 29, spy: Wales.
Just the people and their accent.
What’s so scary about them then?
They’re very nationalistic. You’d be scared to befriend them. Is this racist? Maybe I shouldn’t have done this. Can we start again?
Aurore, 27, architect: Wow. I would say China because it's a giant.
Yeah, like the factory of the world.
Have you ever been there?
No, never. Maybe that’s why it’s so scary to me. The fear of the unknown. I'd quite like to go there and have a look around.
That's a good idea. What’s the friendliest country?
Sweden. In Sweden all people are really helpful and nice.
I'm sure you're generalising, but whatever.
James, 38, artist manager (left) and Cerne, 48, artist manager.
James: I’m going to go for Afghanistan, currently.
Cerne: Or Caracas in Venezuala.
What’s so scary about Venezuala?
You know, all the guns and drugs and that kind of thing.
What’s the scariest country you’ve been to?
America, probably. Every time I go to San Francisco it’s pretty scary. And New Orleans.
James: I was filling my car up with petrol in San Pedro, just outside LA, and there was literally a shoot-up on the forecourt. I was just stood there going "shit!" That was pretty scary. Then a load of cops started chasing this guy across the forecourt and were screaming "Get in the car! Get in the car!"
Cerne: Yeah, I’ve seen someone pull a gun on someone at least three or four different times in America.
Yeah, that does sound scary. Thanks guys!
Previously - What's Corrupting the Youth of Today?