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Selecting Instagram Filter "Supreme Leader Glow"
February 25, 2013 3:01 PM   Subscribe

Visitors to, and other non-residents in, North Korea are now able to tweet and instagram, as mobile data services are gradually opened up. (Probably) the first tweet sent in this way appeared earlier today.

(Probably) the first Instagram picture out of North Korea, and another one a few hours later.

Russia Today reports that "... upon arrival to North Korea tourists will be required to fill a special form to purchase a 3G SIM-card for the price of 50 euro and will have to pay hefty 0.38 – 1.43 euro per minute of talk".

...though the Wall Street Journal says that "The intial ‘set-up’ cost to enable mobile devices to connect to Koryolink’s network is 75 euros for a USB modem or 150 euros for a SIM card, according to the report. Then the charges for data usage range from 150 euros for 2 gigabytes to 400 euros for 10 gigabytes. The 2 gigabyte package appears to be the cheapest option available, meaning visitors would face a total bill of 225 euros, or around $300, if using a USB modem."

Newsday reports that: "Late leader Kim Jong Il was revealed to have been a Mac user. His Macbook Pro, or a replica, is enshrined at the Kumsusan mausoleum where his body lies in state."
posted by Wordshore (31 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Actually surprised that NK allows access to Instagram or any other social network. Is it so unknown / seen as so harmless that the censors haven't yet bothered?
posted by Foci for Analysis at 3:10 PM on February 25, 2013


It's only open to visitors, so they'll only be able to post stuff that's on the state-guided tour.
posted by Aizkolari at 3:18 PM on February 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


And it's pictures of someone's lunch.
posted by GuyZero at 3:20 PM on February 25, 2013 [13 favorites]


win-win-win situation for the ruling party (for a while):

1) They get cash from Westerners
2) They get to eavesdrop
3) They get to arrest "dissidents" for looking at a bikini-clad lady on instagram
posted by slater at 3:20 PM on February 25, 2013


The Dear Leader used a Macbook Pro,
or a replica, some would guess
He frittered away on the internet,
while his country became quite a mess
His Macbook Pro, or a replica,
is enshrined where he lies in state
the screen's still there at the site he was at,
reading 'bout himself on Slate
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:23 PM on February 25, 2013 [12 favorites]


And it's pictures of someone's lunch.

Absolutely loved that the first Instagram out of North Korea was a filtered foodie pic of American-style cornbread. Oh, Imperialistic hipster-irony...
posted by Wordshore at 3:25 PM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


1) They get cash from Westerners
2) They get to eavesdrop
3) They get to arrest "dissidents" for looking at a bikini-clad lady on instagram


And 4) your very presence there is seen as a public endorsement of the principles of Juche.

This is a big step. I had to hand over my phone to the DPRK people before landing at Pyongyang, and got it back in Dandong on arrival in Dandong, but not before my camera was scrolled through for unsuitable pictures.
posted by marvin at 3:27 PM on February 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


(Probably) the first Instagram picture

Dunno if Wordshore deliberately picked those, but if not, isn't it interesting that both the first and the second pictures that they posted are about food?

In the Potemkin Country mindset, the idea is to try to make the other side think you're as prosperous as possible. They're told that any pictures they see of us are propaganda. So the very first propaganda they send back under this channel is showing North Koreans eating delicious food.

If we were trying to do that, we'd probably be posting pictures of the monstrous houses we live in, all on the ocean of course, and our super expensive cars.

The North Korean version of extreme prosperity would appear to be having lunch.
posted by Malor at 3:27 PM on February 25, 2013 [8 favorites]


Yeah it's only open to visitors and seems like a cash grab more than anything else (NK is always looking for hard currency from foreigners). The officials there aren't stupid and know that visitors take pictures and post them online after their trips. If that's happening anyway, the state would prefer to profit from the practice a little.

If there's something they don't want people to see, they can always not allow foreigners to see it, and I suspect that they have a way to shut the whole network down in a hurry if military officials desire.
posted by zachlipton at 3:44 PM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm as big of a fan of the Vice documentary and all of the stuff on Youtube and the pieces on Netflix as the next guy, and in theory I would absolutely love to visit the place and see for myself what exactly it is that weird isolationist policies will do to a select number of citizens that have been pre-approved by the powers that be. However, maybe rich westerners should think twice and then a third time and then like fifty times after that and then refrain from visiting the DPRK and slipping cash directly into the pockets of the most oppressive regime in modern human history this side of the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei. There's a better chance that the zombified corpses of Il Sung and Jong Il will reanimate and begin leading tour groups of underprivileged American college students over the Chinese border than there is that any of that money is going towards anything other than new DVD box sets for Our Great Pudgy Offspring Kim Jong Un.
posted by item at 3:46 PM on February 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


That's precisely my problem, item. I've long been thinking about visiting (and I understand it's more difficult with a US passport anyway), and besides the fear of being held captive and needing Bill Clinton to have to fly out and beg for my release, it's also not a cause I want to support. While it's not like my expenditures would add up to very much, it would still be handing cash to a group of people I'm interested in funding.
posted by zachlipton at 3:59 PM on February 25, 2013


2) They get to eavesdrop

If you don't ignore SSL warnings like an idiot you should be protected from eavesdropping for many services such as gmail. But if you don't want to worry about it there's always the option of a $5/month VPN.

His Macbook Pro, or a replica, is enshrined at the Kumsusan mausoleum where his body lies in state.

If the MacBook is enshrined, does that mean it's on display? If so, what do the local visitors make of it?
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 4:19 PM on February 25, 2013


Maybe that's a stupid question, actually.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 4:21 PM on February 25, 2013


People complain about the heavy filtering in America...
posted by just_another_crowd at 4:22 PM on February 25, 2013


It's only open to visitors, so they'll only be able to post stuff that's on the state-guided tour.

Thing is Vice already took photos in NK, so it's already been done by the hipster crowd. Though Instagramming those giant decaying buildings would be cool.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:24 PM on February 25, 2013


That looks like an awful lot of salt being dumped into those noodles.
posted by maryr at 4:36 PM on February 25, 2013


flapjax, for some reason I read your lyrics with a very Robert Frost rhythm.

Dear Leader used a Macbook Pro.
It's in his mausoleum though;
He will not see me stopping here
To take a filtered phone photo.

My polite guide must think it queer
To stop without an MP near
Between Pyongyang and Heaven Lake
Along the Kŭmgangsan frontier.

She gives her little head a shake
To say that this is a mistake.
My cell phone makes a little beep.
I've sent a digital keepsake.

This data plan was far from cheap.
But we've a schedule to keep,
And miles to go yet in the jeep.
And miles to go yet in the jeep.
posted by maryr at 5:05 PM on February 25, 2013 [10 favorites]


However, maybe rich westerners should think twice and then a third time and then like fifty times after that and then refrain from visiting the DPRK and slipping cash directly into the pockets of the most oppressive regime in modern human history this side of the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei.

I went to DPRK, after thinking a few times.

My first flight connection was through a nuclear-armed state that has the world's largest prison population and highest incarceration rate, was actively torturing people against the Geneva Conventions, and that uses police violence to crack down on unarmed protesters, and robots to kill people without regard to national sovereignty.

My second flight connection was through a nuclear-armed dictatorship that has the second largest prison population, largest numbers of executions and a very active internal program of censorship and cracking down on dissidents.

And yet you never see people being demonized for travelling through San Francisco or Beijing. Sure, the DPRK probably leads the world in oppression-per-capita, but not in total oppression. And the only good way the Korean War ever ends is if the DPRK citizenry realize that they are being lied to, that Westerners are people just like them and not demons to be afraid of. That cracks begin to let in the outside, which will lead to the pressure from the inside.

I think there's a valid moral argument to be made on either side of the equation; going there is a tiny step in a very long road of openness, but it contributes to the government. There are lots of things people do that puts them in a moral grey zone, like buying anything from China. Chinese trade with the DPRK is on the order of 3000 times the economic value of western tourism, so it's a much larger if indirect source of funding, not to mention the terrible human rights abuses taking place in China.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 5:44 PM on February 25, 2013 [10 favorites]


posted by Homeboy Trouble

Eponysterical.

(also in full agreement)
posted by whyareyouatriangle at 5:50 PM on February 25, 2013


My first flight connection was through a nuclear-armed state that has the world's largest prison population and highest incarceration rate, was actively torturing people against the Geneva Conventions, and that uses police violence to crack down on unarmed protesters, and robots to kill people without regard to national sovereignty.

As a United States citizen, I am comfortable saying that this place has its faults. As a citizen of the world, I am comfortable saying that North Korea has many, many more, and as much as I have issues with my homeland I wouldn't trade those issues with the problems that those who are entrapped under the Juche philosophy face for all of anything in the world. If you would, well, that's your right. Have fun. You needn't bother letting me know how that works out for you.
posted by item at 6:08 PM on February 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


One of the strangest internet artifacts I've ever found is (what seems to be) the Twitter account of James Dresnok, the last surviving US serviceman who defected to the DPRK following the Korean War. He's the subject of an interesting documentary called "Crossing the Line" (available on Netflix).

He tweets once every few months, and though he has since unfollowed a bunch of accounts, for a while it was clear that the first one he followed was a bad Kim Jong-Il parody. The mind reels. Didn't he know? Couldn't he know?
posted by ecmendenhall at 6:15 PM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


My first flight connection was through a nuclear-armed state that has the world's largest prison population and highest incarceration rate, was actively torturing people against the Geneva Conventions, and that uses police violence to crack down on unarmed protesters, and robots to kill people without regard to national sovereignty.

The difference comes when you look at the flow of money: visiting America, patronizing local shops, taking tours, renting a phone- all of these things contribute in some way to the livelihood of an American, whether its profits for a small shop or someone's paycheck.

I'm uncomfortable with the wealth imbalance here in the U.S., and with many other aspects of the place. But I guarantee no one profits from DPRK tours except The State.

(Not to say you were wrong in going- I can't really place that kind of judgment on someone I've never met.)
posted by maus at 6:35 PM on February 25, 2013


Macbook Pro:

North Korea has unveiled the embalmed body of Kim Jong-il, still in his trademark khaki jumpsuit, on the anniversary of his death.

....

North Korea also unveiled Kim's yacht and his armoured train carriage, where he is said to have died. Among the personal belongings featured in the mausoleum are the parka, sunglasses and pointy platform shoes he famously wore in the last decades of his life. A MacBook Pro lay open on his desk.

posted by thewalrus at 6:55 PM on February 25, 2013


A MacBook Pro lay open on his desk.

And above his tomb, till the end of time...
posted by Wordshore at 7:17 PM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


You're probably in a very interesting place when you use the #internet hashtag in a tweet, non-ironically.
posted by rollbiz at 8:03 PM on February 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


They've had a presence on reddit for a while now.
posted by empath at 10:18 PM on February 25, 2013


Oh god, the three portraits in the upper right.

"One of these is not like the others..."
posted by dunkadunc at 11:00 PM on February 25, 2013


That's satire empath.
posted by panaceanot at 12:17 AM on February 26, 2013


no shit
posted by empath at 12:30 AM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hey, just providing a heads up for anyone delving into a potentially confusing subreddit.
posted by panaceanot at 4:51 AM on February 26, 2013


Late leader Kim Jong Il was revealed to have been a Mac user

Think Different
posted by atomicmedia at 9:24 AM on February 26, 2013


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