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February 5, 2013 7:53 AM   Subscribe

To the tinkly piano tune of "We are the world", a video released last weekend from Uriminzokkiri, North Korea's official website, shows a dream sequence involving various rockets, Korean unification, a sparkle-powered North Korean Space Shuttle, and the apparent missile-based destruction of Manhattan.

More from The Guardian, The Telegraph and the Washington Post.

The original "We are the world" video.
posted by Wordshore (45 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Reddit says that the NY footage is cribbed from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. I found that almost funnier than their using "We Are the World."
posted by fiercecupcake at 7:58 AM on February 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's very hard to take North Korea seriously.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:58 AM on February 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Weird.
posted by glhaynes at 8:02 AM on February 5, 2013


One thing unites us: North Korean video directors also have no clue about there not being sound in space.
posted by MartinWisse at 8:07 AM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


*sighs, adds to growing bottle cap collection*
posted by The Whelk at 8:08 AM on February 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's very hard to take North Korea seriously.

Bond villains have always been a bit on the comical side.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:09 AM on February 5, 2013


Worst karaoke ever.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:14 AM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bond villains have always been a bit on the comical side.

As have Doctor Who monsters.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 8:15 AM on February 5, 2013


*sighs, adds to growing bottle cap collection*

Unfortunately for you, I've modded reality to make me pretty much unstoppable with the AER14. So maybe let's just hand over the caps now, hm?
posted by aramaic at 8:16 AM on February 5, 2013


Whatever they take for a good night's sleep in North Korea, it looks like it certainly isn't NyQuil.
posted by Wordshore at 8:18 AM on February 5, 2013


For some reason, I originally parsed "We Are the World" as "It's a Small World", and actually felt a little solidarity with our North Korean comrades. The might be a bit of cultural destruction we can all get behind.
posted by Curious Artificer at 8:24 AM on February 5, 2013


In general this kind of propaganda is written for the local audience, so North Koreans are proud of their country and don't resent the lack of electricity or food. So it's weird to see this on Youtube, since the DPRK citizens have no Internet access. So I guess this was intended internationally? So clumsy looking to an American audience, but maybe it seems a bit more chilling to South Koreans.

Here's the original video post on Uriminzokkiri, the official DPRK news site. It lists 2566 views.
posted by Nelson at 8:25 AM on February 5, 2013


2,566 views? That's about on par with the new Red Dawn remake.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 8:28 AM on February 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


that music is killing me.
posted by Substrata at 8:33 AM on February 5, 2013


So I'm not convinced that the video is depicting a missile attack of Manhattan. It appears to be celebrating DPRK technological "victories" with an extrapolated eye toward a future, and saying that the west will burn by virtue of its own misdeeds.

Is there someone here who can read the Korean in the video and comment on this?
posted by hanoixan at 8:34 AM on February 5, 2013


Anywhere I can read a translation of the titles? All the articles quote one or two lines, but I'd be interested in a full translation.
posted by RobotHero at 8:41 AM on February 5, 2013


I was just thinking as watching this that it's funny that fictinoal propaganda from one of our video games is more convincing and scary than actual propaganda from the actual dictatorship in question
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 8:43 AM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Revenge fantasies of the impotent. Always fun.

These also appear to be the special effects samples that were rejected for use in Team America World Police for being "too unrealistic."
posted by 1adam12 at 8:46 AM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


How do we know this is real?
posted by lalochezia at 8:58 AM on February 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


At this moment, the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa is quickly assembling a mash-up of in-game footage from Homefront, set to a version of Tears Are Not Enough played on a Casio.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:13 AM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's stuff like this that always makes me really feel for South Korea and Japan. It strikes me as just like being an ordinary person living on an ordinary street anywhere in the world and having a neighbor who 1) is paranoid schizophrenic, 2) hates you and your kids, and 3) spends all of his time building a death ray on his lawn. The death ray never works, but he's constantly tinkering with it. You know he collects guns. There's never enough reason for the cops to do anything about him, but every once in a while, a neighborhood cat goes missing.

It's like Pacific Heights or something. Unbearable.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:14 AM on February 5, 2013 [14 favorites]


Try it buttheads. If your missiles get anywhere near Manhattan they'll probably get headhunted & end up as CFOs of startups within 6 hours.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:19 AM on February 5, 2013


Actual what bugs me about North Korea is not so much that they have fantasy dreams of sending their space plane over to do a quick strafing run of Manhattan, but rather that they are banning their own women from bicycling.

Talk about an evil repressive dictatorship!
posted by flug at 9:20 AM on February 5, 2013


Anywhere I can read a translation of the titles? All the articles quote one or two lines, but I'd be interested in a full translation.

There's a full translation at the top of the Reddit thread that fiercecupcake linked to.

It looks like hanoixan's thoughts are probably right, if the translation is correct:

I was able to see a dark smoke rising somewhere in America.
It looked like the land of authority, tyranny, and warmongering den of evil was burning in the fire they started.

posted by Kosh at 9:20 AM on February 5, 2013


Anywhere I can read a translation of the titles?

Oh, it turns out the answer to my question is the reddit link fiercecupcake provided.
posted by RobotHero at 9:21 AM on February 5, 2013


Or what Kosh said.
posted by RobotHero at 9:22 AM on February 5, 2013


BTW I can't read Korean but if I were guessing I would say the message of the video is "We're using our wonderful space technology to explore space and open up fabulous new vistas for humanity while America/the West is using their technology to blow each other up."*

But visually, it sure does look like, "Hey, we're going to send our space plane over for a quick bombing/strafing run of Manhattan. Aren't we hot stuff!"

*And checking the translation, yeah, that's pretty much it.
posted by flug at 9:23 AM on February 5, 2013


Is that North Korean space shuttle powered by the sparkles from the unicorn lair they recently um discovered?
posted by Wordshore at 9:27 AM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


One of my favorite blogs, Tech in Asia, has a post about the video. It notes that Uriminzokkiri has a Youtube channel with 5000+ videos on it. I had no idea! (BTW, this is how we know this video is really from North Korea; they posted it to their official news dispatch channels.)

Bonus TiA links: North Korea's first computer game: Pyongyang Racer (Flash, play it here, only it's broken) and Kim Jong-un carries a HTC smartphone.
posted by Nelson at 9:34 AM on February 5, 2013


> Bonus TiA links: North Korea's first computer game: Pyongyang Racer

"Hi! Run this software freely provided by a country sworn to obliterate you!" is totally not going to trigger any computer security concerns. Nope.
posted by ardgedee at 9:46 AM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Man, for a patrilineal totalitarian dictatorship with a reputation for misallocating recourses and a longstanding Hollywood fixation, North Korea sure sucks at propaganda. Pretty sure you can make out a Shmoo flying that space shuttle.

I mean, say what you want about the tenets of Socialist Realism, dude, at least it's a propaganda style that told you its makers knew what winning looked like.
posted by gompa at 9:59 AM on February 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Local news appears to be running with the "DPRK attacks Manhattan" angle, at least as far as the headlines go. Content includes a literal translation, but it's written in the context of an attack.

I suppose it was too much of me to hope for objective journalism.
posted by CancerMan at 10:26 AM on February 5, 2013


So it's weird to see this on Youtube, since the DPRK citizens have no Internet access

So in a country with a food shortage bad enough to stunt growth they can afford waveguides to each TV set VS over the air broadcasts?

Pull the other one - it plays the star spangled banner.
posted by rough ashlar at 10:37 AM on February 5, 2013


No, of course North Korea can't afford Internet access for citizens, it can't even manage electricity or food. The country so badly mismanages its own economy that millions of its citizens starved after the end of Soviet fuel subsidies in the 90s and currently is allocating 700 calories / day for citizens.

However the government does have enough money to build ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons. And make Youtube videos for the outside world, threatening us with space-based attacks. It's a horrorshow all around.
posted by Nelson at 11:42 AM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, shit, more dongs airborne over Manhattan. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 11:50 AM on February 5, 2013


I am not in favor of a nuclear armed North Korea. But they might have caught on to the fact that nuclear armed nations tend to get a pass on things....
posted by digitalprimate at 12:00 PM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


North Korea should outsource their propaganda to the Internet. Reddit or 4chan or random tumblr blogs, anybody could do a better job than that, even using the same sources.
posted by Kevin Street at 12:24 PM on February 5, 2013


Okay. Now I KNOW they're just trolling the world.
posted by snottydick at 12:26 PM on February 5, 2013



It looked like the land of authority, tyranny, and warmongering den of evil


Well, we certainly can't argue with that.
posted by waving at 1:06 PM on February 5, 2013


Revenge fantasies of the impotent. Always fun.

Until they get their ICBM platform working.
posted by Edgewise at 2:08 PM on February 5, 2013


But they might have caught on to the fact that nuclear armed nations tend to get a pass on things....

They already have a "pass" on things. It's called China.
posted by aramaic at 2:32 PM on February 5, 2013


They already have a "pass" on things. It's called China.

It also used to be called the Soviet Union. Things change. Juche means self-reliance.
posted by scalefree at 11:46 PM on February 5, 2013


The America is "burning in the fire they started" thing is interesting to me, in terms of cultural contexts and unspoken assumptions.

I should conclude that it must be a pervasive idea within North Korean culture. This would explain why they thought it went without saying how America started this fire and how it will lead to their own demise. But then Americans, absent the pervasive cultural beliefs that allowed the claim to pass unjustified in NK, try to find an explanation within the video itself, and so take it that it is meant to occur as a direct result of the NK space program.
posted by RobotHero at 10:48 AM on February 6, 2013


I'm not convinced that the video is depicting a missile attack of Manhattan.

Nor am I.
posted by Rash at 1:10 PM on February 6, 2013


I'm not convinced that the video is depicting a missile attack of Manhattan.

But it was released on the eve of testing a nuclear weapon so at the very least, mixed messages.
posted by scalefree at 3:50 PM on February 8, 2013


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