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Luncheon - North Korea, The Hermit Kingdom

  • San Francisco Italian Athletic Club 1630 Stockton Street San Francisco, CA, 94133 United States (map)

Bob Canepa


The focus of Mr. Canepa’s talk is on the history, politics and everyday life in a totalitarian society and the Kim Family Dynasty (Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong-Il, and Kim Jong-Un). He will discuss some of the disparities regarding life expectancy, infant mortality rates, GDP, exports, military size, and military budgets between North and South Korea. His slides include the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea, the Joint Security Area, an Invasion Tunnel, the USS Pueblo, Revolutionary billboards, the Bridge of No Return, the massive mausoleum of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong-Il, the Arirang Mass Games, Pyongyang and most importantly the North Korean people.

Bob will also share his harrowing experience of almost being arrested for "illegal interaction" (a.k.a. spying) in North Korea. He has been to 104 countries around the world, and this was far and away the most fascinating and bizarre of all his travel experiences. He visited the Soviet Union, Communist Poland, Hungary, East Germany, and Czechoslovakia in 1968 when the Cold War was intense. He narrowly escaped from Czechoslovakia before the Soviet troops and tanks invaded that summer. He visited Vietnam in 2007, China in 2011 and all fifteen of the former Soviet republics which are now independent countries. None of these countries can even remotely compare to the totalitarianism and mind control that exists in North Korea today.


Bob Canepa was born and raised in Marin County. He did his undergraduate studies at USF and graduate studies at Dominican University. He then served as a US Marine Corps artillery officer which proved to be one of the best and most rewarding experiences of his life. Afterwards he returned to work at the family business--Mill Valley Market.  He has been a very active volunteer serving his community with youth, seniors, Rotary and numerous other civic organizations. He was twice honored as Mill Valley's Citizen of the Year and Mill Valley's Business of the Year. He also has received Rotary International's highest honor--the "Service Above Self" award. He also served on a number of business boards and committees. He has been retired for 13 years, and this has enabled him to further pursue his love of travel.


1130 - Gather and Greet
1200 - Call to Order
·       Pledge of Allegiance - CAPT Stan Ellexson
·       Grace – LCDR Art Curtis, Commandery Chaplain
·       Introduction of Flag Officers – Commandery Commander
·       Introduction of Guests - SF Companions
·       Medical Minute – CAPT Tom Snyder
·       Historical Minute – CAPT Ken Hagan
·       Membership Report – RADM Tom Andrews
1215 - Announcements – SF Companions
1220 - Lunch
1250 - Guest Speaker
1325 - Raffle
1330 - Adjourn