Tag Archives: North Korea

Propaganda 101

13 Dec

There aren’t a lot of Stalinist dictatorships left in the world, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), or North Korea is the weirdest of all. Led now by a Swiss-educated twentysomething, it is effectively a large jail with its own currency, and the world’s only Communist dynasty. 

This week, North Korea sent a satellite into space. For a country that follows long-discredited communist central planning and considers anyone not in the military or the party to be disposable, launching a rocket seems to be hardly a priority. But for all the tea party dummies, this is communism, and this is communist propaganda. It’s a dying art; one that was once practiced throughout the globe.  Clap in unison, comrades for the “Hot Wind of Kim Jong-Un”, the sun of the nation and the lodestar for unification

If you want to learn a bit more about the reality of the concentration camps within the national prison that is the DPRK, watch this: 

Lincolns in North Korea

28 Dec

As you watch the hysterical, (as in hysteria, not as in funny), funeral procession of Stalinist lodestar of the 21st century, still-dead Kim Jong-il of North Korea today, take a look at the limo on top of which Kim’s coffin is being carried.

It’s a 1975 Lincoln Continental limousine, held over from Kim’s father, the very dead, but eternal President of North Korea, Kim Il-Sung. Even Kim’s mega-portrait gets a limo.

No one does cult of personality like the North Koreans. They are unsurpassed in history at totalitarianism.

Stalinist Propaganda in 2011

21 Dec

Since the downfall of the Soviet Union and its satellite colonies, the volume and quality of good, old-fashioned communist propaganda has diminished exponentially. I think this may have something to do with how easily and cavalierly people accuse, e.g., centrist Democrats of being “socialists” or similar.

 There are only a small handful of remaining hardcore Stalinist communist dictatorships remaining in the world, and North Korea is the hardcore-iest, Stalinist-iest of them all. Only Hoxha’s Albania and Pol Pot’s Cambodia came close to the psychotic dysfunction of the Kim’s Korea.

So, after the jump, I will reproduce for you the propaganda item that the Korean Central News Agency (the news agency of the “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”) put out in the wake of Kim Jong-il’s death. It’s fascinating to me not only because of the religious terminology it uses to deify the Dear Leader, but the completely false “Juche” self-reliance communism that the Kim dynasty pretends to adhere to (while taking in hundreds of millions in foreign aid) and the attempts to connect an amoral tyrannical communism to an ancient Confucianism. “Songun” is the term the Kim regime uses for its “military first” ideology, as it maintains its revolutionary fervor (as all Communist dictatorships must) through eternal war with the US and South Korea.

This is what passes for public relations and propaganda under Stalinism. Even the title reveals the modern-day caste system that develops under Stalinism; what Yugoslav dissident Milovan Djilas called “The New Class” after his mid-50s split with Tito. This new class has complete control over the means of production while paying lip service to Marxist workers’ control. Through that control, it amasses wealth and influence which becomes “property” in a propertyless society.

Notice to All Party Members, Servicepersons and People

Pyongyang, December 19 (KCNA) — The Central Committee and the Central Military Commission of the Workers’ Party of Korea, the National Defence Commission of the DPRK, the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly and the Cabinet of the DPRK on Saturday announced the following notice to all party members, servicepersons and people:

The Central Committee and the Central Military Commission of the Workers’ Party of Korea, the National Defence Commission of the DPRK, the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly and the Cabinet of the DPRK notify with bitterest grief to all the party members, servicepersons and people of the DPRK that Kim Jong Il, general secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, chairman of the National Defence Commission of the DPRK and supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army, passed away of a sudden illness at 08: 30 on December 17, Juche 100 (2011) on his way to field guidance. Continue reading

Kim Jong Il

19 Dec

Want to occupy? #Occupy Pyongyang. #Occupy Kim Il Sung Square. #Occupy Juche Tower. Now, a 28 year-old product of a Swiss boarding school is in charge of a dangerous, mercurial nuclear power with a disproportionately large army. Time will tell whether he’s an agent of change, or if the system is so tightly controlled that change is impossible without a coup.

Best Page of Propaganda, Ever

9 Jul

North Korean Markets – wait, what?

4 Feb

One of the oddest articles I’ve read in a long time, for this reason:

Some analysts say the main reason for the currency revaluation was rein in the newly emerging middle class, many of whom have made their money trading in the free markets.

I wonder what it will take to blow the lid off the tyrannical Kim dynasty. If Albania could do it, the DPRK can, too. Plus, it has a really wealthy brother living just next door.

Daily Life in the DPRK

8 Nov

You can truly travel the world thanks to Flickr.  A lot of really stupid people have used North Korea as some sort of example of what life is like under Obama.  You know who else had free health care?  Hitler.

Anyhow, this set I stumbled on tonight via this site shows what life looks like in Kim Jong-il’s Stalinist paradise in a way that goes beyond the standard government-sanctioned photography that’s been prevalent for the past 50 years.

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Flip Flops

27 Jun

George W. Bush in May:

As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: ‘Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.’ We have an obligation to call this what it is – the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.”

(Note that the senator in question was a Republican Senator from Idaho

George W. Bush in June:

In more than two years of negotiations, the man who once declared North Korea part of an “axis of evil” with Iran and Iraq, angrily vowing to confront, not negotiate with, its despotic leader, in fact demonstrated a flexibility that his critics at home and abroad once considered impossible.

That is why Mr. Bush is likely to receive only grudging credit, if any, for the accomplishment, which could turn out to be the last significant diplomatic breakthrough of his presidency.

North Korea’s declaration — and the administration’s quid pro quo lifting of some sanctions — faced criticism from conservatives who attacked it as too little and from liberals who said it came too late.

“The regime’s nuclear declaration is the latest reminder that, despite Mr. Bush’s once bellicose rhetoric, engaging our enemies can pay dividends,” Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, whom Mr. Bush defeated in the 2004 presidential election, said in a statement after the declaration on Thursday.

“Historians will long wonder,” he continued, “why this administration did not directly engage North Korea before Pyongyang gathered enough material for several nuclear weapons, tested a nuclear device and the missiles to deliver them.”

For the record, I fully support the Bush administration’s efforts diplomatically to engage North Korea and Iran. It’s important to talk to our enemies in an effort to make the world a safer place. We cannot refuse to speak to certain countries out of some respect for morality or human rights – American history is replete with evidence that we are quite happy to speak with despotic regimes of all shapes and sizes, if not engage in full diplomatic relations with them.

I only wish that Bush wouldn’t trot out “appeasement” and Chamberlain and Munich and 1938 and Hitler as an adjective for talks with other enemies that aren’t North Korea. It is counterproductive, ignorant, and stupid. Also, KCNA doesn’t have anything up about it yet.

Oftentimes, diplomacy and moderation can trump aggression and extremism.

Something to Watch

10 Jun

All 14 episodes of the “Vice Guide to North Korea“. It’s simply indescribable.

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(The embedded video is from episode 3 – Welcome to Pyongyang)

UPDATE: I want to promote this a little more because I’m simply fascinated by it, and because I gave it short shrift yesterday when in a hurry to post it.

Any sort of hermit kingdom/crazy nation always fascinates me, as does the prospect of travel to a country to which travel is prohibited. When I was a kid, I’d spend summers in Yugoslavia and wish I could go to then-forbidden Albania, just to see what a Stalinist paranoid kingdom looked like. I’d love to go to Cuba to see what Marxism-Leninism looks like in the 21st century. Are there resorts on Iran’s shore of the Caspian Sea?

North Korea, however, is the ne plus ultra of crazy, strange, paranoid, passive-aggressive Stalinist hermit kingdoms. I have scoured the internet for travelogues and photographs. I recall distinctly how East and West Germany progressed differently in the post-war era, but the difference was that most East Germans could get Western TV and radio, so they knew exactly what they were missing. Not so North Koreans, who are kept dirt-poor and ignorant. TVs show nothing but propaganda, and an errant aerial probably gets you thrown in jail. Radios get only official stations. Tourism is tightly controlled or non-existent. Journalists are let in sporadically.

The tale of Shane Smith’s visit – and internet documentary of it – is unbelievable, and I really urge you to watch it. Someday North Korea will be no more, and it will somehow, someday rejoin its richer brother to the South. Hopefully someday the people of North Korea will know some semblance of freedom as we know it – freedom to, rather than freedom from.

What makes this so amazing is its irreverence. Smith gets threatened with jail a few times during the video for perceived or real slights against the regime and Dear Leader. He refers to the famous Arirang mass gymnastic display as an “eyefuck” – a better description I’ve never read. He is brought down to an elaborate banquet hall on his first night at the hotel, and is the only guest. Despite that fact, the waitresses bring food to all the tables, and then carefully remove it shortly thereafter. It is all a choreographed show – to prove that the western lies and propaganda about North Korea’s food shortages are just that. Smith calls the food inedible, fried “matter”, and comments after a few days that his tour is little more than “crazy food, politics, crazy food, politics.”

He dances with a lonely tea shop girl along an empty four-lane highway. He visits a school where kids put on creepy, robotic shows. He sees the desks with adjustable height that was invented by the Dear Leader. He visits the Panmunjon DMZ from both the South and North, and shows you the differences. He sings karaoke – first trying out a North Korean song, which he pokes fun at, deeply insulting his host. He calls his political minder “Speedy Gonzalez”. He sings karaoke on his last night there – Anarchy in the UK. Totally surreal.

If you think of North Korea in the abstract, or you know of it only as a caricature of its real self (I’m thinking Team America World Police), take the time to watch all 14 episodes of this unique, groundbreaking, funny, and heartbreaking documentary. Seriously, it should be shown on Frontline or sold on DVD. It’s that incredible.

Also, make sure to read the bit on the website about how, exactly, Smith finagled himself a visa to visit the North.