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August 10, 2012 2:24 PM   Subscribe

Propaganda - A film alledged to be from North Korea about the excess of Western decadance and public relations propaganda - hits Youtube (1:35:52)
posted by The Whelk (44 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
Direct link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6NMr2VrhmFI
posted by slater at 2:28 PM on August 10, 2012


Plainly the product of a South Korean psychological operations unit out to discredit AdBusters by attributing all fnord its ideas to North Korea.
posted by mph at 2:33 PM on August 10, 2012 [7 favorites]


I was going to say this is a false-flag operation to discredit Western dissidents by lumping them in with NK.
posted by dunkadunc at 2:37 PM on August 10, 2012 [7 favorites]


If North Korea wanted evidence of the excess of Western decadence, they could just Tivo a couple of hours' worth of television while they channel-flip at random.
posted by "But who are the Chefs?" at 2:38 PM on August 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


Nice to see Noam's keeping busy.
posted by docgonzo at 2:41 PM on August 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


If North Korea wanted evidence of the excess of Western decadence, they could just Tivo a couple of hours' worth of television while they channel-flip at random.

Watch the video, it's pretty much what they did. Spoiler alert: looks like NK gets premium channels.
posted by 2bucksplus at 2:43 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can't believe I didn't see this on /r/pyongyang first.
posted by mullingitover at 2:44 PM on August 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


Well, this is fascinating.
posted by Apropos of Something at 2:49 PM on August 10, 2012


Western Consumerism is decadent. So their Propaganda is not completely off the Radar ...
posted by homodigitalis at 2:50 PM on August 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Uh... why is it in English? Am I missing something?
posted by junco at 2:54 PM on August 10, 2012


junco: "Uh... why is it in English? Am I missing something?"

It's dubbed over by the party which claims it is from North Korea.
posted by Apropos of Something at 2:55 PM on August 10, 2012


"this man has just purchased a telephone..."
posted by ennui.bz at 3:01 PM on August 10, 2012


It's dubbed over by the party which claims it is from North Korea.

Yes, I should have read the linked page better.

Still seems awfully... convenient. She just happened to be a translator with experience dubbing films (with a voice that's the norm for these sorts of "documentaries" to boot), and with access to professional recording equipment?
posted by junco at 3:03 PM on August 10, 2012


I was in DPRK recently for the 80th anniversary of the military's founding, and their propaganda is absolutely amazing. We went and checked out a "flower show" for the occasion. Shit was in a massive (isn't everything there?) two floor building. Each exhibit is donated by a foreign country or company doing business there, and many contain models of military hardware intertwined with the flowers. It really is a fantastic juxtaposition. I had my photo taken like the locals were, wearing my Kim Jong Il tailor made suit.
posted by gman at 3:04 PM on August 10, 2012 [27 favorites]


While we're playing the conspiracy game, who wants to bet that this turns out to be an attempt to associate and conflate Occupy talking points with North Korea and Trutherism?
posted by fifthrider at 3:06 PM on August 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh, looks like dunkadunc beat me to that.
posted by fifthrider at 3:07 PM on August 10, 2012


While we're playing the conspiracy game, who wants to bet that this turns out to be an attempt to associate and conflate Occupy talking points with North Korea and Trutherism?

Well, around 5 minutes in, it's already conflating criticism of consumerism with criticism of taxes, so there you go.
posted by junco at 3:08 PM on August 10, 2012


Adam Curtisy
posted by Saddo at 3:12 PM on August 10, 2012


Whatever that is, it's obviously not the work of the North Korean government - it's not in their style of film-making at all and is totally inconsistent with their ideology. For that matter, if it is some kind of false-flag operation, it's an extraordinarily amateurish one. Seems like just a garden-variety hoax to me. Maybe it's the work of some garden-variety South Korean leftist group with some title cards about the Dear Leader cut in afterwards?

Can anybody that knows Korean verify that the translation is even accurate?
posted by strangely stunted trees at 3:12 PM on August 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


I was hoping this would all be laughably out of touch, but a lot of the pop-culture criticism was pretty great:

"Most of the most famous celebrities have no talent at all. This celebrity is called Katie Price... And despite her enormous fame, she does nothing at all."

"This is called reality television, a kind of freakshow in which talentless narcissists who like to talk about themselves, and go shopping."

"This one is called my super-sweet 16, in which children are given tens of thousands of dollars, simply because they turned 16. They are showered with gifts, despite having achieved nothing."

"Tyra Banks now has a talkshow, where she pretends to be interested in people's problems, despite having no qualifications to do so. "

Otherwise, the video was a bit ridiculous. And apparently North Koreans are 9/11 truthers. Who knew?
posted by Green Winnebago at 3:15 PM on August 10, 2012


Here's some actual North Korean propaganda for comparison. The contrast is pretty stark.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 3:19 PM on August 10, 2012 [8 favorites]


Today I learned that North Koreans use HP laptops.
posted by Rat Spatula at 3:22 PM on August 10, 2012


Maybe our expectations for something hilariously awkward cloud our judgment on the video's authenticity? Like is it possible a group of North Korean propagandists watched some Chomsky-ish anti-consumerism documentaries from the West one night and were really inspired by them, resulting in this?

If not then I guess at this point the video's true author(s) and the motivation behind it are significantly more fascinating than the video itself, heh. Unless it's just some college kid who thinks he's being deviously clever, in which case I'm moving to North Korea.
posted by palidor at 3:31 PM on August 10, 2012


Adam Curtisy
I watched the first ten minutes, and that was exactly my feeling. It seems far too much like--and too inline with the same beliefs of--many Western critiques of their own society. Either there are some North Koreans who have been doing their homework, or it is somehow fake. Maybe somebody skilled in Korean could watch the original, as the language has differences in vocabulary between north and south, and it should be possible to tell.
posted by Jehan at 3:35 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Rat Spatula: Today I learned that North Koreans use HP laptops.

Annnnnd... some older computers. As for Internet and mobile phones, I learned a few things while I was there. For about $400/month plus usage charges, a journalist can access the slowest internet in the world. With regard to mobiles, there are apparently about a million people with them. Locals have special SIM cards that can't connect with anyone outside the country. Foreign guides, Embassy staff, and foreign business people have SIM cards that can only call outside the country.
posted by gman at 3:36 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Like is it possible a group of North Korean propagandists watched some Chomsky-ish anti-consumerism documentaries from the West one night and were really inspired by them, resulting in this?

That's not how North Korea works, everything is completely driven from the top down, and nothing more so than the line they take in their foreign-facing propaganda. If somebody senior enough to get a propaganda video like that made got plugged in to Chomsky and Adbusters, then it wouldn't be some one-off thing, every third story on KCNA would be about Manufacturing Consent and the Shock Doctrine.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 3:40 PM on August 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


Yeah, I'm not absolutely certain who made this but it's fake.
posted by dunkadunc at 4:43 PM on August 10, 2012


This is far too accurate an insightful to be NK propaganda.

"And the hypocritical war on drugs..."
*Picture of Nixon*
"announced by this master criminal."
posted by cmoj at 4:51 PM on August 10, 2012


This scans too "Berkeley" to be Pyongyang.
posted by gallois at 4:53 PM on August 10, 2012


It was like looking in a distorted mirror that can only reflect ugliness.
posted by double block and bleed at 5:09 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here's some actual North Korean propaganda for comparison. The contrast is pretty stark.

This is just a video manifestation of pure evil, I don't know how else to put it.
posted by eugenen at 5:09 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


I find this to be neither excellent nor horselike.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:14 PM on August 10, 2012 [8 favorites]


I was going to say this is a false-flag operation to discredit Western dissidents by lumping them in with NK.
Like a modern-day Zinoviev letter.
posted by Jehan at 5:25 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


"these consumers slaves are also forced to pay taxes to their governments..."

so far, true enough
posted by lathrop at 8:47 PM on August 10, 2012


It's too accurate to be real!
posted by R. Mutt at 8:52 PM on August 10, 2012


"Unlike the other B-grade actor, this one will not be president."
posted by The Whelk at 9:03 PM on August 10, 2012


"This celebrity is called 'Madonna'. She recently started a trend of shopping for children in third world countries."
posted by rmannion at 9:36 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


The video certainly served as a chilling reminder for me:

I have to use that half tub of kim chi in the fridge.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 9:37 PM on August 10, 2012


Just remove the commentary, the Korean titles and add a Philip Glass score and voila, Propagandaqatsi.
posted by elgilito at 9:46 PM on August 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Does Obama show up anywhere in this documentary? Seems odd. Maybe this is 4 or 5 years old?
posted by dw at 10:20 PM on August 10, 2012


From even 30 seconds, it's clearly too fluent with Western imagery to be a DPRK (not DPKR as the first title screen translates it) video. A ridiculous fake.

Example: (1:02) Voiceover says "misinform", accompanying screen image is Colin Powell saying "Trust me" with Korean subtitle. Westerners know that Colin Powell, as secretary of state of the US, added significant weight to the case for the war on Iraq by presenting "intelligence" that was later revealed to be inaccurate. North Korean citizens don't know who the fuck Colin Powell is. Would you recognize the seated gentleman on the right in this image? [1] Which report would the DPRK's propaganda ministry be more likely to make about the Iraq war: Americans are bloodthirsty imperialists who invade countries to steal their wealth, or The US government lied to its' people with false reports, subverting their basically peace-loving nature?

The video is filled with images that are iconic if you are a Westerner and meaningless if your are not; Katy Perry and Jessica Simpson are known as airheaded jigglepop performers, but they're just women in skimpy costume if you've never heard of them. Ronald McDonald ringing the opening bell of the NYSE is a statement about capitalism if you are a Westerner, it's a weirdly dressed guy with some other people standing maybe on a balcony applauding.

Right after the title, there's a collection of images of politicians prepping for camera shots. It starts with an image of Sarah Palin, who is incredibly iconic in the West, but has never held a significant office in America. Do you think Korean Central Television had wall to wall US election coverage in 2008? "Which leader will the American people freely choose?" I'm sure that's the top story. That's the only context where she's significant.

And fundamentally, the last fucking thing on Earth the DPRK leadership wants wide knowledge of amongst its' citizens is life in the West.

[1] He's Kim Yong-Nam, the Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, a member of the Politburo of the Korean Worker's Party, and the de facto head of state of North Korea. (The de jure head of state is Kim Il Sung, despite the fact that he's been dead for 18 years.) He's more important than the US Secretary of State, but not entirely dissimilar. I wouldn't know who he was if he knocked on my front door and handed me a proclamation criticizing my imperialist warmongering.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 12:04 AM on August 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


Where can I find out about life in NK with the least amount of bias? It’s either a living hell where the people walk around on fire, or paradise on earth where the buildings are made of chocolate.
posted by bongo_x at 9:37 AM on August 11, 2012


A good start would probably be Barbara Demick's Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea. It's based on interviews with defectors, and I suppose one could argue it's biased in that respect since it doesn't present the viewpoints of North Koreans who have stayed in the country, but of course any North Korean who is still within the power of their government is not allowed to give their own opinion to a foreigner.

The truth about life in the DPRK is not some media via between two equally false propaganda lines. Life really is pretty awful there. Probably the most significant change in recent years is that ordinary North Koreans are beginning to get an idea of what the outside world is actually like, since Chinese traders have supplied a thriving black market in South Korean and Western media.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 10:08 AM on August 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


bongo_x: It’s either a living hell where the people walk around on fire, or paradise on earth where the buildings are made of chocolate.

Yeah, basically it goes like this - it is a shitty place to live for those who are not in the upper echelons of the government/military, especially for people who live outside of Pyongyang. There is a tiny "middle class" who work in jobs that generally have to do with tourism, because they receive hard currency tips. Due to their interaction with foreigners, these people have access to news from the outside world, foreign movies, and other "treats". Then again, they are also very aware that there's nothing they can do about their situation. So, you have the elites who know what's going on outside DPRK, but also have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. Then you have the middle class, I spoke about, that also know what's going on, but are helpless to make changes. And finally, you have the vast majority of people who are only worried about where their next grain of rice is going to come from.
posted by gman at 10:59 AM on August 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


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