Among the many weird manifestations of Kim Il Sung’s tyranny was a prohibition of romance in the works of North Korean culture ... Growing up on the very best of Soviet and Hollywood movies, Kim Jong Il comprehended that romance could be an essential spoon of sugar to help people better swallow the bitter medicine of social mobilization and various other political campaigns. “People love love,” he once claimed in his characteristically laconic manner. “We must show it on the screen”.[more inside]
White Power and apocalyptic cults- Pro-DPRK Americans revealed: An in-depth examination by Nate Thayer of the history, ideologies and personalities of American pro-North Korea political organizations.
The Defector: Escape From North Korea, an interactive documentary. The Trailer. via. Flash required. [more inside]
"North Korea is a mythically strange land, an Absurdistan, where almost nothing is known about the people or, more important, their missile-launching leaders. There is, however, one man—a humble sushi chef from Japan—who infiltrated the inner sanctum, becoming the Dear Leader's cook, confidant, and court jester. What is life like serving Kim Jong-il and his heir? A strange and dangerous gig where the food and drink never stop, the girls are all virgins, and you're never really safe." (via @stevesilberman)
Former Great Leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Il was a noted cinephile with a personal video library of over 20,000 movies. In 1970, he said "The motion picture industry, when dealing with the socialist reality, has not yet reached the standard set by our Party." To help it reach the standard, the Dear Leader wrote a treatise On the Art of the Cinema (PDF), took an interest in minute details of film production (as recounted by film stars), revamped the Taedongmun Cinema House, and kidnapped a director (previously 1, 2.) But did this lead to better movies?.... [more inside]
North Korea has warned foreign embassies in Pyongyang that it cannot guarantee their safety from the threat of conflict after 10 April, and has advised them to consider pulling their staff out of the capital. This follows North Korea blocking South Korean Workers from the Kaesong industrial complex - a sign that this might be more material than the usual posturing, warning that a 'moment of explosion' is nearing and moving missiles with "considerable range" to its east coast. Though the US is playing down the threat and the UK and Russia have no plans of moving their diplomats the possibility of an accident or miscalculation leading to war looms. North Korea has earned the reprobation of Russia and Fidel Castro in recent days and even longtime supporter China is beginning to lose patience with it - something some say is not before time.
North Korea follows only three people on Twitter. One of them, for some reason, is 25-year-old Coldplay superfan Jimmy "Jammy" Dushku.
Welcome to Pyongyang! "Koryo Tours commissioned a DPRK (North Korea) gaming company to develop a racing game that lets you drive around Pyongyang in a locally made Pyonghwa Motors vehicle, see some of the sites and compete for a good race time! Collect fuel along the way, avoid the attentions of Pyongyang's traffic ladies, and try not to crash into any of the local cars, or the DHL vans! This unique game is currently online exclusively on Koryo Tours' website (do note that it may take some time to load properly - so do stay patient before starting)." [more inside]
Kim Han Sol is the son of Kim Jong Nam, who is the eldest son of Kim Jong Il, the recently deceased North Korean dictator. In this English interview for Finnish TV with former United Nations Under-Secretary General Elisabeth Rehn, he talks about his life, refers to his uncle and current DPRK Supreme Leader, Kim Jong Eun, as a 'dictator,' and says he never met his grandfather. [Part 1 (interview begins at 1:35)] [Part 2]
Propaganda - A film alledged to be from North Korea about the excess of Western decadance and public relations propaganda - hits Youtube (1:35:52)
A real-life 'Hunger Games' - author Blaine Harden discusses his new book about one man's escape from a North Korean labor camp. [more inside]
In a surprise announcement this week North Korea agreed to halt nuclear weapons tests, enrichment of uranium and long-range-missile launches and allow the return of international inspectors in exchange for a pledge of "no harmful intent" and 240,000 metric tons of food aid from the U.S. The announcement is seen as a major breakthrough by the State Department after years of stalled negotiations and the first major foreign policy action by Kim Jong-un. [more inside]
"This is my 24th visit to the DPRK, but it is the first time I have ever visited a polling station here." (Background here and here)
"Excuse me while I rock out to the Pochonbo Electronic Ensemble and The Wangjaesan Light Music Band." The human face of communism. It's a Pyongyang thang.
North Korea played in the World Cup in 1966 [BBC Documentary on YouTube]. The 1966 World Cup was the subject of bitter disagreement before a ball was ever kicked. Sixteen African nations boycotted the tournament in protest of a 1964 FIFA ruling that required the champion team from the African zone to enter a playoff round against the winners of either the Asian or the Oceania zone in order to win a place in the Cup. [more inside]
The Big Picture displays recent photos released by the KCNA of Kim Jong-il giving "on-the-spot" field guidance.
"The most important questions regarding North Korea are the ones least often asked: What do the North Koreans believe? How do they see themselves and the world around them?"
Hitch reads up on North Korea: "I have recently donned the bifocals provided by B.R. Myers in his electrifying new book The Cleanest Race: How North Koreans See Themselves and Why It Matters, and I understand now that I got the picture either upside down or inside out. The whole idea of communism is dead in North Korea, and its most recent "Constitution," "ratified" last April, has dropped all mention of the word. The analogies to Confucianism are glib, and such parallels with it as can be drawn are intended by the regime only for the consumption of outsiders. Myers makes a persuasive case that we should instead regard the Kim Jong-il system as a phenomenon of the very extreme and pathological right. It is based on totalitarian "military first" mobilization, is maintained by slave labor, and instills an ideology of the most unapologetic racism and xenophobia." Read the first chapter here.
North Korea's "150 Day Battle" has been extended for another 100 days. The initiative was ostensibly aimed at ramping up internal production in the face of growing external trade reductions. Some analysts think it's a ploy, combined with recent missile launches , to solidify the base for the next regime.
North Korea’s Dollar Store - Office 39, North Korea’s billion-dollar crime syndicate, pays for Kim Jong Il’s missiles and cognac. Why did the Bush White House choose not to shut it down? [via] [more inside]
North Korea's concentration camps reportedly contain over half a million citizens, and is possibly one of the worst cases of systematic human rights abuses occurring in the world today. Ahn Myong Chol, an ex-prison guard, describes the conditions of the inmates of Camp 22, in objective and chilling detail. On medical experiments being performed on prisoners: "....the glass chamber has 3 main subdivisions: one is for blood experiments, another is for poison gas, and the third is for suffocation gas. 3 or 4 people, normally a family, are experimented on. The scientists sit around the edge and watch from above...". [more inside]
North Korea announces it will no longer abide by the ceasefire that ended the Korean war. Previously. [more inside]
In September of 2008, two Austrians traveled 13,000km by rail from Vienna to Pyongyang - without asking permission and going through the official Koran travel agency. [more inside]
ViceTV takes a relaxing North Korean vacation (video, in 14 parts).
Kim Jong Il's Ringtones and Wallpaper and other fine, fashionable accessories for your digital lifestyle. (via waxy.org.)
Newsfilter: North Korea's response to a toothless UN resolution may be a second nuclear test. With military solutions pretty much off the table, it may be up to rival factions within the DPRK to topple the regime. NK coups have been discussed here before, and the end result may not be as pretty as one would hope, but maybe this time the Chinese have had enough.