"Nothing better defines Kim than how little we actually know about him. When asked, even the most respected outside experts on North Korea in the United States and in South Korea—not to mention inside the White House—invariably provide details that turn out to be traceable to Dennis Rodman or to a Japanese sushi chef named Kenji Fujimoto, who was employed by the ruling family from 1988 to 2001, and who now peddles trivial details about them (such as how Kim II once sent him to Beijing to pick up some food at McDonald’s)."
North Korea has published 310 new patriotic slogans which, as translated by the BBC, are a mix of classic socialist pontification ("Wage the class struggle dynamically by relying on the masses!"), insight into the country's multitude of perpetual problems ("Bring to completion the rehabilitation of the northern railways as early as possible!") and frequent WTF-ness ("Read the minds of producers first before measuring the quantity of their products!")
Redditor CSMastermind composes an epic timeline of the Sony information breach. Well sourced, and in laymans terms. [more inside]
Shin Dong-Hyuk, the only person born in a North Korean political prison camp known to have escaped, discusses the shock and guilt he feels upon learning that his elderly father, also a political prisoner, is still alive and is being used by the North Korean government to spread misinformation about Shin Dong-Hyuk. [more inside]
HEAVEN'S COUNTRYLAND: your 8-bit animated guide to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. (MLYT) [more inside]
Park Yeonmi shares the story of her treacherous escape from North Korea to South Korea. (Video - transcript available). Also interviewed is Mrs. Lee, a defector who attempted to escape North Korea 9 times before finally succeeding; she describes her brutal experience in the prison camps. [more inside]
A Beijing-based tour company commissioned a moving time-lapse video of Pyongyang, the capital of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
Cracked interviews a NK escapee, an ambassador to NK's grandson, and a journalist covering NK. Want more, without any humor (Cracked is pretty restrained for their piece)? BBC on the people smuggling industry, Yeonmi Park on growing up in North Korea, the Guardian on an ordinary day in Pyongyang, Al-jazeera explains how the Kims rule with an iron fist and some recent photographs of ordinary people in North Korea.
Although North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is supposedly a big fan of American pop culture, his celebrity crushes no longer include Seth Rogen and James Franco. The country has threatened to inflict a "merciless countermeasure" on the United States if they don't ban upcoming comedy The Interview, in which the actors play characters who become entangled in a plot to assassinate the North Korean leader (Randall Park). "The act of making and screening such a movie that portrays an attack on our top leadership... is a most wanton act of terror and act of war," said a spokesman for the North Korean Foreign Ministry.
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.
There's some confusion surrounding Dennis Rodman's most recent visit to North Korea and his espoused 'Basketball Diplomacy' mission. He sung Happy Birthday (potential auto-play sound) and bowed deeply to 'Dear Leader', before his team of ex-NBA players scored 39 points to 47 against the NK team. Rodman played only in the first half and then sat next to Kim during the second half. [more inside]
This is The Big Picture, an official television report of the United States Army, produced for the armed forces and the American people. Now to show you part of The Big Picture here is Master Sargent Stuart Queen
The series consists of ~822 documentaries produced by the United States Army Signal Corps Army Pictorial Service from 1951 to 1971 to educate both soldiers in uniform and the American public about military concerns as well as things like historical battles, world geography, famous soldiers, the latest weapons, space exploration, strategic objectives, peaceful initiatives, and the life of a soldier. Being a product of the Federal Government it belongs to the the American people, and is thus freely available to all to copy and distribute. Most can now be viewed on archive.org[more inside]
Ask a North Korean, a periodic special feature from nknews.org (about) in which North Korean expatriates discuss their experiences living in the most oppressive nation on Earth. [more inside]
"For experts and those who want to join this illustrious group, the Samjiyon can easily develop into one of their major research tools. The DPRK-specific dictionaries and the encyclopedia are tremendously useful as reference works.It does not take much imagination to see all the future Ph.D. theses written about the North Korean educational system based just on the textbooks available on a single Samjiyon (don’t forget to give credit to the one who provided you with this idea). The selection of eBooks in the literature section is equally remarkable." -- Ruediger Frank reviews the ideologically correct North Korean Samjiyon tablet (PDF), an alternative to degenerate capitalist tablets like the Ipad which can't even receive analog tv broadcasts. All part of the relentless forward march of North Korean IT technology.
The RAND Corporation's National Security Research Division has released a 297-page report on the likely consequences of a collapse of the North Korean regime, within the Korean Peninsula, as well as to China, Japan, the US and others (PDF).
Hyon Song-wol, North Korean pop star and rumoured lover of Kim Jong Un, has reportedly been executed by firing squad. The singer, previously noted on Mefi for her 2005 video Excellent Horse-Like Lady, was reportedly arrested on August 17 and was executed with others on August 20.
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]
But the protestors only had their voices – for none of them had banners or signs to highlight their grievances. Aliou remembers, ”There were no such materials. Where could we even purchase the materials for a riot in North Korea?” -- That day in 1984 that a group of African students went on a demo in North Korea, part three of the memoirs of "Aliou Niane, a Guinean who studied at Wonsan agricultural college in North Korea from 1982-1987". Part 1, part 2.
A former top female North Korean spy gives an exclusive interview, saying Kim Jong-un is posturing on the world stage because he is too young and too inexperienced to gain control of the military. [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.
The Pirate Bay has announced via a blog post that they will be using North Korea as a haven to serve pages without facing prosecution from copyright authorities. [more inside]
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. [more inside]
North Korea has been called the world's most repressive state [previously], but every year, two to three thousand North Koreans manage to escape to South Korea. Recognizing the potential for disorientation among the refugees and disruption for South Korean society, in 1999 the government's Unification Ministry set up a mandatory resettlement program called Hanawon--"one people". (It also screens the newcomers carefully for spies.) Last year, due to growing need, the government opened another Hanawon centre. [more inside]
Sophie Schmidt's (Ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt's daughter) photo and text impressions of their recent visit to North Korea. As part of the American Delegation that visited North Korea a few days ago (headed by former governor of New Mexico, Bill Richardson) Eric Schmidt invited his daughter Sophie, who took some snapshots and posted them with her impressions of the trip. [via HN]
You might be surprised by what we’re about to say: the most tight-lipped, conservative and controlling country in the world is also a weed-smoker’s paradise
North Korea follows only three people on Twitter. One of them, for some reason, is 25-year-old Coldplay superfan Jimmy "Jammy" Dushku.
"Q: What kind of comparisons can be drawn between Asia’s underground railroad and the one in pre-Civil War America? A: The way it’s set up is similar. The safe houses and transit routes are kept secret and vary a lot. There is another similarity in that many of the people who operate on the underground railroad are ethnically Korean, just as many of the operators on the original underground railroad were free blacks." -- an interview with Melanie Kirkpatrick, author of Escape from North Korea: The Untold Story of Asia's Underground Railroad
As this research report will show, North Koreans today are learning more about the outside world than at any time since the founding of the country. North Korea is consistently ranked by Freedom House and Reporters Without Borders as the country with the least free media in the world. This ranking reflects the country's complete lack of an independent domestic media, its legal restrictions against accessing foreign media and the harsh punishments it metes out against citizens who violate those restrictions. Yet, since the late 1990s the information environment in North Korea has undergone significant changes. Although the media environment remains extremely restricted by international standards, North Koreans' access to outside media has grown considerably over the past two decades. Many inside the country continue to develop new ways to access information while avoiding the ever-present risk of detection and punishment.
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)
North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has been appearing in public lately with a mysterious female companion. Speculation (and apparently gambling) continues to surround the matter of her identity, but the prevailing theory at present seems to be that she is one Hyon Song-wol, of Bochonbo Electronic Music Band fame. The internet presents us with her 2005 single "Excellent Horse-like Lady", offering a rare glimpse into the world of North Korean pop music.
Despite the White House's stern warning on Tuesday that a rocket launch would end U.S. food aid, North Korea launched its "Unha-3" rocket at 7:39am local time, only to watch it fail roughly a minute later.
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]
Extracts from Escape From Camp 14 - How one man escaped from a North Korean prison camp. There was torture, starvation, betrayals and executions, but to Shin In Geun, Camp 14 – a prison for the political enemies of North Korea – was home. Then one day came the chance to flee…
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]
1. Find 5 very cute children.
2. Teach them how to play the guitar, and play it well.
3. Find a catchy little song for them to play.
2. Teach them how to play the guitar, and play it well.
3. Find a catchy little song for them to play.
North Korean Accordion quintet covers "Take On Me." (SLYT) Part of a project by Morten Traavik, a Norwegian theatre and film director, (previously featured on Metafilter). [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)