On the Spot with Kim Jong-il
March 13, 2010 6:56 AM   Subscribe

The Big Picture displays recent photos released by the KCNA of Kim Jong-il giving "on-the-spot" field guidance.
posted by gman (66 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
The livestock (especially the cows) all seem so... sad and depressed. Maybe that's just me.
Also, why does he wear sunglasses ALL the time?
posted by yeoz at 7:00 AM on March 13, 2010


He haz a bucket. (Obligatory.)
posted by Malice at 7:01 AM on March 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


#23 - with a smile that big, I assume he's looking at some sort of alcohol?
posted by gman at 7:02 AM on March 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


I saw this earlier today and that first shot had me primed for some weirdness. It looks like the railing he is holding has been wrapped in some kind of red carpet just for his visit. It sure looks out of place. Actually, looking at it again, his right hand and the area where he is holding the rail looks kind of off to me. I know almost nothing about image manipulation though.
posted by Jenga at 7:06 AM on March 13, 2010


I've been reading a remarkable amount lately about North Korea. It really is basically just a country-sized cult, and it's fascinating to read about the way that actually winds up working.

Hell, it's incredible to think that Kim Jong-Il may not even be alive, and yet nobody has any real way of knowing for sure.
posted by DoctorFedora at 7:09 AM on March 13, 2010


In this one respect at least, I guess life is pretty much the same for heads of state the world over.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 7:12 AM on March 13, 2010 [11 favorites]


> 31. Kim Jong-il visits Jagang Provincial Library.

Kim Jong-il would definitely be on my short list of the last people I'd want hanging over my shoulder as I checked my email.

It would appear as though Dear Leader has four distinct faces:

1. I find this most delightful!
2. I'm old and I'm not quite sure what's going on.
3. I'm bored.
4. Check out this biscuit! Is this a great fucking biscuit, or what?
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:14 AM on March 13, 2010 [10 favorites]


I didn't know you could grow cotton in winter.
posted by R. Mutt at 7:17 AM on March 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


The livestock (especially the cows) all seem so... sad and depressed.

Some of the ones in uniform seem pretty happy.
posted by gman at 7:17 AM on March 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


I believe this dictatorial cult leader is shopped. I have seen many shops in my time.

Hell, it's incredible to think that Kim Jong-Il may not even be alive, and yet nobody has any real way of knowing for sure.

A huge hat, a generic parka, gloves, the same shirt, wide sunglasses and suspiciously photoshoppy-looking photos? If these are the best official photos available, there's no way Jong-Il is actually making public appearances, assuming he's alive at all. It's body doubles and junta-a-gogo over there.
posted by mhoye at 7:20 AM on March 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


Woooooonnnnnnweeeeeeee...
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:22 AM on March 13, 2010


I have this weird idea that in an alternative universe Kim Jong-Il was an incredibly talented but flawed pop star, and Michael Jackson the ruler of a basket-case pseudo-communist country.
posted by Sova at 7:23 AM on March 13, 2010 [13 favorites]


He's not wearing the jacket/parka/gloves getup in the one where he's inspecting fruit at a fake-looking store, though. That one looks like the Kim Jong Il we've seen all along.
posted by DecemberBoy at 7:30 AM on March 13, 2010


I believe this dictatorial cult leader is shopped. I have seen many shops in my time.

Communists use GIMP.
posted by Jenga at 7:38 AM on March 13, 2010 [6 favorites]


Wow, 15 years later and North Korea is still using .jp instead of .kp for its KCNA website.
posted by crapmatic at 8:11 AM on March 13, 2010


I don't think of manipulation when I see the fur hat/gloves/heavy jacket combo — I think of Glenn Gould, who had mental problems and packed on layers and wool gloves in the dead heat of summer.
posted by argybarg at 8:19 AM on March 13, 2010


What are the odds someone would set out to make a pictorial record of all of the food in North Korea and the same guy shows up in the shots? He could be the North Korean equivalent of Domino's noid.

And I am not drinking whatever is in #11. Eau de Supreme Leader.
posted by yerfatma at 8:20 AM on March 13, 2010


On the Spot with Kim Jong-il
or
A History of Dear Leader Feigning Interest in Mundane Things
posted by Anything at 8:24 AM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


The story for me was in reading the eyes of the group of people (almost always all men) hovering behind him in each photo. The local manager type and his assistants always look somewhere between worried and terrified. Please don't let him get upset at something here. Please don't let him look at me. Please don't let him notice that my ceramics factory has only ever made one big block of low grade cement.
posted by Babblesort at 8:47 AM on March 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


Does the Supreme Leader own the only pair of sunglasses in North Korea? He wears them indoors as well, which means HE'S GONE HOLLYWOOD, PEOPLE!
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 9:25 AM on March 13, 2010


Those big bulky CRT monitors in the last picture really does tell it all.
posted by cazoo at 9:28 AM on March 13, 2010


CAN YOU FEEL THE CHARISMA!?!!??



Those who cannot feel the charisma will be re-educated.
posted by Panjandrum at 10:06 AM on March 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Pineapple Clogs!!
posted by gman at 10:10 AM on March 13, 2010


Panjandrum - I often think the same thing when I see pictures of Kim Jon-Il. To me it looks like the man is completely lacking charisma, but it does not seem to adversely affect his ability to manufacture the image of himself as a god-like, all powerful benevolent leader in North Korea from what I've read. Despite the fact he looks like the old guy on the bus downtown who won't stop clearing his throat and smells a bit like pee.
posted by Kirk Grim at 10:21 AM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Kim Jong-il inspects pork products at the October 7 Pig Farm under Korean People's Army Unit 534 at undisclosed place in North Korea. Photo released on January 16, 2010. (KNS/AFP/Getty Images) "

Didn't they disclose earlier in the caption that he was at the October 7 Pig Farm? Are they implying that they have no idea where this pig farm is? I am confusion.
posted by reformedjerk at 10:35 AM on March 13, 2010


Not only are those grocery stores fake, but I'd wager that the factories themselves are fake and only staffed on days when KJI comes in for a visit.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:41 AM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


If one of those poor fuckers around him could just assassinate him...
posted by vito90 at 10:41 AM on March 13, 2010


Yeah, the staged opulence is really delightfully transparent.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:47 AM on March 13, 2010


Note the break in the sunglasses in shot 10. Ah, Photoshop.
posted by Tsuga at 10:52 AM on March 13, 2010 [12 favorites]



A huge hat, a generic parka, gloves, the same shirt, wide sunglasses and suspiciously photoshoppy-looking photos?


Let's not go overboard here - there's probably only one working hat factory, shirt factory and parka factory left in the entire country. Whenever anybody else out of military uniform is wearing a jacket in any of those pictures, it's either the same-tan-with-purple-lapels parka, or one of those dark-green-with-black-fake-fur-collar overcoats.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 10:54 AM on March 13, 2010


Kim Jon-il is probably a sadistic pedophile which makes these wholesome images disturbing but explains the dark shades and chuckling over rows of empty children's shoes and bottles of booze.
posted by stbalbach at 10:54 AM on March 13, 2010


I have this weird idea that in an alternative universe Kim Jong-Il was an incredibly talented but flawed pop star, and Michael Jackson the ruler of a basket-case pseudo-communist country.

So that's why he's wearing only one glove in photo 13.
posted by Tsuga at 10:57 AM on March 13, 2010


Every picture seems so empty. Two photos of libraries, and only a handful of books. A grocery store, with produce evenly placed to take the most space with a few pieces of fruit. An iron factory, with seven workers shown; textile mill with two workers. A shoe factory with a display on a temporary board, a few pairs of shoes on a table, in an otherwise empty room. And the background in #30 looks... old? faded? is it a photo-mural?
posted by Houstonian at 11:00 AM on March 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


For somebody who has a reputation for rolling in massive amounts of ill-gotten cash, it's kind of wierd that the guy only owns one coat and one hat.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 11:09 AM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Not only are those grocery stores fake, but I'd wager that the factories themselves are fake and only staffed on days when KJI comes in for a visit.

Yeah, look at the case in the background of this picture - one single product, in one single layer, on every single shelf. I wonder if it's even real food. The wasted space in all of these locations is very creepy - look at all the 'factory' pictures where there's one conveyor belt or counter top in a huge, empty, painfully clean room. The pig farm with pigs only in the first few cages... I know these pictures are propaganda meant to convince the viewer of something, but what? Who could possibly look at these without seeing that things are very wrong?
posted by frobozz at 11:11 AM on March 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


When this regime collapses, it is going to be the worst humanitarian disaster since WWII.
posted by geoff. at 11:17 AM on March 13, 2010 [7 favorites]


so who starved to fill those shelves with food?
posted by TrialByMedia at 11:18 AM on March 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh, and something I've wondered after watching a few documentaries and now this...where, exactly, are all the people in North Korea? I know there's several million citizens tucked away somewhere, but all the pictures that they let out - including those from the 'official tours' of Pyongyang and surrounding areas - make the place look like a ghost town (except when a hundred thousand or so of them pop out of the woodwork to do some mass acrobatics, of course). Are they not allowed to leave their homes for the most part? Are they all shoved into other cities we never see?
posted by frobozz at 11:20 AM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]



For somebody who has a reputation for rolling in massive amounts of ill-gotten cash, it's kind of wierd that the guy only owns one coat and one hat.


I imagine he dresses rather better in private, but it would hardly do for him to take a propaganda photo wearing non-DPRK-made clothing. Remember the party line is still that due to its policy of self-reliance and socialist development, North Korea is one of the most prosperous countries in the world. If the Dear Leader were seen in public wearing foreign-made clothing it would strike to the heart of all that. And seriously, North Korean winter wear is that outfit, and the two other outfits that dignitaries are wearing in those pictures.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 11:23 AM on March 13, 2010


Kim Jong-Il

Christopher Walken playing Bruce Dickinson

They are looking more and more similar. In the end when the DPRK collapses, will we find out that Juche really means "more cowbell" in Korean?
posted by dw at 11:23 AM on March 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hasn't anyone ever told thgis guy that it's rude to wear sunglasses inside?
posted by Effigy2000 at 11:39 AM on March 13, 2010


When this regime collapses, it is going to be the worst humanitarian disaster since WWII.

Not so much a "feed the people" kind of task, but a psychiatric problem on a scale never seen before. Don't expect anyone to be welcomed with open arms...
posted by fcummins at 11:45 AM on March 13, 2010


Also, why does he wear sunglasses ALL the time?

KIM JONG-IL, the BLOATED TYRANT, avatar of Nyarlathotep

[...]
The belt of the Bloated Tyrant's tunic holds six sickles and the enchanted Black Glasses which, when worn over the eyes, permits the deity to take on the semblance of a dumpy, elderly Korean man. The Black Glasses draw all attention to the strange, potato-like garments and somehow shield its true hideous form.
[...]

Sanity loss: 1d10/1d100 to see the Bloated Tyrant, no loss if seen wearing the Black Glasses.

(It is becoming increasingly disturbing how easy it is to see the world entirely in terms of the Call of Cthulhu role-playing game.)
posted by JHarris at 12:02 PM on March 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Didn't they disclose earlier in the caption that he was at the October 7 Pig Farm? Are they implying that they have no idea where this pig farm is? I am confusion.

There's an October 7 Pig Farm in every town, like a House of Pizza or that one place that's been Going Out Of Business since 1989.
posted by Spatch at 12:17 PM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


where, exactly, are all the people in North Korea?... Are they not allowed to leave their homes for the most part? Are they all shoved into other cities we never see?

Have you seen Welcome to North Korea (documentary from 2001)? It's excellent, and discusses some of this. A really short answer is: Yes. Just under an hour long, and worth watching.
posted by Houstonian at 12:43 PM on March 13, 2010 [6 favorites]


In this one respect at least, I guess life is pretty much the same for heads of state the world over.
:) That's exactly what I was thinking about when I looked at these.
It's interesting that the grocery photos may be faked. That's something that didn't cross my mind. Also, what are they looking at in this picture?
posted by bluefly at 1:09 PM on March 13, 2010


Vinalon is a synthetic fiber, produced from polyvinyl alcohol using anthracite and limestone as raw materials.
posted by gman at 1:13 PM on March 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


For somebody who has a reputation for rolling in massive amounts of ill-gotten cash, it's kind of wierd that the guy only owns one coat and one hat.

In some respects he's not that different than Karl Lagerfeld, minus the hat. He's the most stylish dictator in the world.
posted by l2p at 1:21 PM on March 13, 2010


He's no Mobutu.
posted by gman at 1:27 PM on March 13, 2010


Kim Jong-il very wise man know many things. Kim Jong-il go cow farm, say "the stiff gait of that cow may indicate hypomagnesaemia." Kim Jong-il go cornstarch factory, say "this machine requires re-calibration of the extrusion sequencer." Kim Jong-il go footwear factory, say "penny loafers are out this year, pumps are in". Kim Jong-il go grocery shop, say "higher returns will be possible if this display is moved to the end cap."

Write words of Kim Jong-il. He very wise man know many things.
posted by twoleftfeet at 1:30 PM on March 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


For somebody who has a reputation for rolling in massive amounts of ill-gotten cash, it's kind of wierd that the guy only owns one coat and one hat.

He blows all his money on cognac and building his massive movie library.

Also, corn starch looks like gummi bears?
posted by Shesthefastest at 2:00 PM on March 13, 2010


The livestock (especially the cows) all seem so... sad and depressed.

Unlike Western livestock, which is super happy?
posted by chunking express at 2:53 PM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Huhuhu, bukkit
posted by dirigibleman at 2:56 PM on March 13, 2010


Soylent White is made out of North Korean people! You've gotta tell them. You've gotta tell them!
posted by Ratio at 3:07 PM on March 13, 2010


Only the guy nearest the camera gets a keyboard for his computer. He also gets three mice, so he must be fairly high-ranking.
posted by bakerybob at 3:22 PM on March 13, 2010 [7 favorites]


I like how genuinely afraid he looks of the pigs in #29. It's like he's haunted by Brick Top from "Snatch."
posted by Dr. Zira at 3:32 PM on March 13, 2010


INVISIBLE PITCHER
posted by gottabefunky at 3:33 PM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Apparently there is an official Library Computer Usage uniform. And along with no talking, there is no smiling in the library.
posted by filthy light thief at 5:18 PM on March 13, 2010


(Also: Mr. Library User has an invisible keyboard. Ms. Library User might have a keyboard, but it's hard to tell from behind that giant monitor. I think the file cabinet behind them is just cardboard with labels adhered to make it look like drawers.)
posted by filthy light thief at 5:20 PM on March 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think the file cabinet behind them is just cardboard with labels adhered to make it look like drawers.

WTF. I think you're right. The upper left hand corner looks kind of like it's peeling upwards.
posted by elizardbits at 5:54 PM on March 13, 2010


Dear Leader smiles in only two pictures: broadly in Inspecting Shoes, knowingly in Inspecting The Hard Liquor. I'm drawing conclusions about his erotic fantasies here. "Stop me," as Updike says in "The Music Lesson."
posted by kozad at 6:26 PM on March 13, 2010


This factory is just about the only thing in those pictures that I don't already have less crappy versions of. It might be useful for making speaker cabinets or custom stone counter tops for my kitchen.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:50 PM on March 13, 2010


frobozz: "where, exactly, are all the people in North Korea?"

According to Max Brooks, "North Korea is completely empty, the entire population thought to have relocated underground though no one is certain whether the tunnels may be home to 23 million zombies."
posted by mrbill at 7:29 PM on March 13, 2010


These on-the-spot visits have been surreptitiously recorded, and the tapes have been smuggled out of the country. The tapes have made their way into my possession (I can't say any more about that), and I'd like to share Kim's quotes with you now. From the first 10 photographs:

1. "This red velvet along the guardrail isn't even halfway plush enough for my fingers! You see my gloves are still on, right? To the re-education camp with everyone in this factory!"

2. addressed to cow, in hushed and solemn tones "You will be my heir. You will lead our country into the next Shining Era of Juche. Your friend here, though, will be on my dinner table tomorrow night."

3. "This does not, I repeat, does NOT look or taste even REMOTELY like a Pringle! It's re-education camp for you nitwits!!

4. "Heh heh! You know, I drank so much takju the other night, I peed two buckets worth! I tell ya, I was pissing like a goddam racehorse! Haha!"

5. You tap this just right, and it's an E flat. You hear that? E flat."

6. "Lessee... you got 'The Michael jackson Story'? I hear he was fond of wearing one glove, too."

7. "When dem cotton balls get rotten, you cain't pick verrry much cotton!"

8. "How in the hell am I supposed to reach the apples with this piece of plastic in the way? To the re-education camp with you!"

9. "No no, you're holding the cue all wrong! And aren't there supposed to be balls on a pool table? These little ships don't look like they'll roll well at all! To the re-education camp with you!"

10.artist: "Your excellency, it's made entirely from the extracted teeth of loyal workers and peasants, who were overjoyed at donating them for your new monument. I call it, 'the Dear Leader's Eternal Inspiration'. Kim: "..." (but thinking: "it's camp for this bozo."
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:32 PM on March 13, 2010


My thoughts on the coat are that it looks like a lot of North Korea is very poorly heated -- no real surprise, given their acknowledged energy shortage.

The second thought on these is that I really have to wonder if this is one of his alleged doubles. He was known to have been absent from public view for well over one year, and when he reappeared in a conspicuously released video, he appeared gaunt and frail. How interesting that he now appears ruddy and hale. On the other hand, these are posed photographs, and yet few of them show him animated in any way.

The sunglasses are a fairly recent innovation -- older photos show him using clear glasses -- but the double-armature thing is apparently quite deliberately unique. But it certainly makes it easier to hide what are usually one of a face's more distinct features.

I'm sure that CIA biometrics experts are carefully measuring earlobes.
posted by dhartung at 9:54 PM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


You can tell his left arm/hand has been f*cked up by the stroke. It just hangs down in all but one photo, and often the left glove stays on (and hangs with open fingers) even though he's not wearing his right glove. He's also got his left hand awkwardly jammed into his pocket in one the photos.
posted by furtive at 10:00 AM on March 14, 2010


« Older From the Borough of Brooklyn comes Dollar Van Demo...  |  The September 2008 colapse of ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments