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hbcat
December 19th, 2011, 01:05 AM
Kim Jong-il, North Korean leader, dies

Kim Jong-il is understood to have suffered a heart attack on Saturday due to physical and mental over-work

Tania Branigan (http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/taniabranigan)
guardian.co.uk (http://www.guardian.co.uk/), Monday 19 December 2011 03.42 GMT
http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Technology/Pix/pictures/2007/10/26/kimjongil-ap-1.jpgKim Jong-il, North Korea's leader, has died aged 69

Kim Jong-il (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/kim-jong-il), the "dear leader" venerated in North Korea (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/north-korea) but reviled abroad, has died aged 69, state media announced this morning.
The official KCNA news agency said he suffered a heart attack on Saturday due to physical and mental over-work. He was on his train, travelling to offer "field guidance" to workers, when he died.

While Kim is thought to have suffered a stroke in 2008, he had apparently recovered and Monday's announcement was unexpected. But he had begun grooming his young son Kim Jong-un to take control of the "hermit state", appointing him a general last year and giving him several high profile roles.
"It is the biggest loss for the party ... and it is our people and nation's biggest sadness," a tearful anchorwoman clad in black Korean traditional dress told viewers as she announced Kim's death.

She urged the nation to "change our sadness to strength and overcome our difficulties."

The death will be felt far beyond North Korea's 24 million population. The country has long been a source of international concern because of its nuclear and missiles programmes and there will be widespread anxiety about potential instability and the implications of the change in leadership.

Seoul's Yonhap news agency said South Korean military leaders had declared an emergency alert following Kim's death. A spokesman for Japanese prime minister Yoshihiko Noda said he had set up a crisis management team on North Korea, while in the US the White House said Barack Obama was monitoring reports of the death.

"We remain committed to stability on the Korean peninsula, and to the freedom and security of our allies," a spokesman added.

While there were some suggestions the new leader might sabre-rattle in the region to help establish himself, Dr Leonid Petrov of the University of Sydney argued that Pyongyang was likely to use the transition as an opportunity to reach out to the international community.

"They will try to use it to resume negotiations with the US, saying there is a new leader so why not go and talk," he predicted.

Kim Jong-un's name headed the long list of officials on the funeral committee, indicating he will lead it. KCNA said the funeral will take place in Pyongyang on 28 December, with the mourning period lasting until 29 December.

But there have long been doubts about how easy it will be for the younger man - thought to be in his late 20s - to continue the Communist dynasty founded by his grandfather Kim Il-sung, who died in 1994.

"I think the North has done quite a bit to accelerate the succession process so I think at least in the short term they will coalesce around the next generation of leadership and watch and see whether his son will be able to consolidate power. But there will be a lot of uncertainty ahead," said Daniel Pinkston of the International Crisis Group.

Chung Young-tae, of the Korea Institute of National Unification, told Reuters: "Any prospect for a strong and prosperous country is now gone. Kim Jong-un is not yet the official heir, but the regime will move in the direction of Kim Jong-un taking centre stage.

"There is a big possibility that a power struggle may happen. It's likely the military will support Kim Jong-un. Right now there will be control wielded over the people to keep them from descending into chaos in this tumultuous time."

KCNA said that Kim had been receiving treatment for heart disease for a long time. He suffered a major heart attack on Saturday due to "great mental and physical strain caused by his uninterrupted field guidance tour for the building of a thriving nation" while travelling on his train.

"Every possible first-aid measure was taken immediately but he passed away at 08:30," it said, adding that an autopsy had confirmed the diagnosis.

The last public sighting of Kim was reported by North Korea's state news agency on Thursday. He reportedly visited a supermarket and music centre, accompanied by his son.

The news is likely to be a particular shock in North Korea - where Kim has been revered as much as he has been vilified by the outside world - because his death comes days before the beginning of 2012. The regime has long promoted next year at the point at which the country would achieve development and prosperity.

For years it has been struggling with food shortages and an economy in crisis.

"It is an extremely convenient time for the North Korean leadership: they don't need to honour the promise that North Korea will become a strong, powerful and prosperous state," said Petrov, an expert on the country at the University of Sydney.

"The population will be required to work hard for long hours with very few celebrations of Kim Il-sung's centenary.

"North Korea is going to have a three year mourning period during which Jong-un will be consolidated as leader - exactly as happened [with his father] when Kim Il-sung died.

He added that while many citizens in North Korea would be genuinely distraught at the news, "it will not be as dramatic as it was in 1994 when Kim Il-sung died. That was real trauma, exacerbated by the famine...political cynicism is growing."

hbcat
December 19th, 2011, 01:13 AM
North Korea -- the world's only Communist monarchy. Kim's 27 (or 28) year old son, Kim Jong-un, will probably the new leader.

Great Leader
Dear Leader
__?__ Leader

hbcat
December 19th, 2011, 01:16 AM
Kim Jong Il, North Korean leader, is dead at age 69


http://www.washingtonpost.com/rf/image_606w/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2011/04/07/Foreign/Images/PHO-08Sep09-128897_kim03-302--606x404.jpg (http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/kim-jong-il-dead-at-69/2008/09/09/gIQA5uvP3O_gallery.html)
View Photo Gallery —  After years of speculation on his declining health, North Korean television has reported its leader, Kim Jong Il, has passed away. He was 69. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/kim-jong-il-dead-at-69/2008/09/09/gIQA5uvP3O_gallery.html)

By Chico Harlan (http://www.washingtonpost.com/chico-harlan/2011/02/28/ABQsisM_page.html), Monday, December 19, 12:21 PM

TOKYO — Kim Jong Il, the North Korean leader who threatened the world with his nuclear weapons ambitions and suppressed his own people with imprisonment and isolation, left in the wake of his death Saturday an antiquated country with a power vacuum.
Kim’s death raises immediate questions about the future — and the stability — of perhaps the world’s most isolated state, which for six decades has held its country together with the Kim family personality cult. Kim was deified by state media, described as the “Dear Leader.” A weeping television anchor Monday told North Korea of Kim’s death.
Video
http://img.wpdigital.net/rf/image_296w/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2011/12/19/Foreign/Videos/12182011-24v/12182011-24v.jpg (http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/north-korean-leader-kim-jong-il-dies-at-69/2011/12/18/gIQA3p2V3O_video.html)
FILE FOOTAGE: Kim Jong Il, North Korea's mercurial and enigmatic leader whose iron rule and nuclear ambitions for his isolated communist nation dominated world security fears for more than a decade, has died at the age of 69 from an apparent heart attack. (Dec. 18)

Security analysts and officials from Seoul to Washington have long believed that Kim’s death would double as a pivot point on the Korean peninsula. But that poses a threat of its own — as North Korea tries to pass power to Kim’s youngest son, Kim Jong Eun, who is in his 20s.

Until late last year, the younger Kim ad lived his life almost entirely behind a wall of privacy. But as his father struggled with his health, he accelerated a controversial power transfer, and in late September 2010 named Kim Jong Eun to several top military and political posts. This year, when the elder Kim made his customary visits to military camps and factories across the country, his son often accompanied him — not as an equal, but as a trainee.

One concern, described by numerous Korean security experts, is that the younger Kim could face opposition from more senior North Korean officials, including Jang Song Thaek, who had been acting as a caretaker for the transition. In recent years, Kim Jong Il tried to minimized the power of other older party members, often demoting them — sometimes even banishing them to the countryside — so they wouldn’t form allies of their own.

Since taking over from his own father, Kim Il Sung, in 1994, Kim kept a tight hold on North Korean society, using the so-called “juche” ideology — emphasizing national self-reliance to rationalize strict crackdowns against political opposition. Those who spoke out against the Kim family were sent to prison camps, defectors say, along with their parents and children.

The country’s leadership maintained a ban on most communication: Most North Koreans, even now, have no access to the Internet. Several hundred thousand North Koreans now have cellphones, but they can make only domestic calls.

As a result, North Korea dealt with almost no dissent — a stark contrast to Arab countries that this year revolted against authoritarian rulers. For almost two decades now, North Korea has defied predictions of its demise. Kim’s death sparked new concerns that the country could become less stable.

In Tokyo, Japanese leaders held an emergency security meeting. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff put its front-line military on emergency alert, with heightened concern about a provocation along the contested maritime border. Seoul’s stock market dipped more than 4.5 percent amid the news of Kim’s death.

In recent years, particularly since his apparent August 2008 stroke, U.S. intelligence agencies had monitored Kim’s health closely. But it was not clear whether they knew his death was imminent. Kim took several trips this year to China and Russia, traveling by heavily armored train.


Gallery
http://www.washingtonpost.com/rf/image_296w/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2011/11/09/Foreign/Images/NKOREA 032_1320868440.jpg (http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/north-koreas-unusual-experiment-in-tourism/2011/11/11/gIQA4ledPN_gallery.html)
The normally closed, secretive country is trying to open its doors a crack to foreign tourists, particularly from China, as a way of earning hard currency. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/north-koreas-unusual-experiment-in-tourism/2011/11/11/gIQA4ledPN_gallery.html)

Ninjahedge
December 19th, 2011, 12:50 PM
Yeah. He died from "hard work".


Despotism is so difficult..


I think he suffered a heart attack when a boot flung off one of his asian goose-steppers at a local mall opening.

lofter1
December 19th, 2011, 10:03 PM
사상 최고의 연설 (The Greatest Speech Ever Made) - Korean Subtitles


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SR8Y7tO8yrI

ZippyTheChimp
December 21st, 2011, 12:04 PM
North Korea -- the world's only Communist monarchy. Kim's 27 (or 28) year old son, Kim Jong-un, will probably the new leader.

Great Leader
Dear Leader
__?__ Leader

Will he be a YouTube Celebrity like dad?


http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=UEaKX9YYHiQ#!



http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=SjEpw-XJjX4#!

GordonGecko
December 21st, 2011, 02:32 PM
No worries, a rogue world nuclear power with 90% of its GDP going into the military is in good hands with this guy:


http://media.salon.com/2011/12/nkorea-kim-jong-il-460x303.jpg


doh!!!

eddhead
December 21st, 2011, 06:45 PM
I know. I mean, what could go wrong?

ZippyTheChimp
December 21st, 2011, 07:07 PM
http://www.caglecartoons.com/media/cartoons/197/2011/12/19/103282_600.jpg

eddhead
December 21st, 2011, 07:30 PM
Jesus Christ.

hbcat
December 21st, 2011, 10:47 PM
Okay, you guys can poke fun all you want, but Kim Jong-un *is* a four-star general, after all, with nearly 16 months of military experience.


Kim Jong Il death: Powerful uncle could overshadow Kim's son (http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/world_now/2011/12/kim-jong-un-overshadow-uncle-kim-jong-il-dead.html)


December 19, 2011 | 10:57 am

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/.a/6a00d8341c630a53ef01543889a6e6970c-600wi


REPORTING FROM SHENZHEN, CHINA -- The death of Kim Jong Il leaves his family's business -- running North Korea -- in terrible shape.

Under his leadership, North Korea lost 2 million people, about 10% of the population, to starvation. It sank ever deeper into poverty and isolation, all the more striking next to the economic miracle that is China.

His youngest son and chosen successor, Kim Jong Un, still in his 20s, has before him what appears to be the nearly impossible task of trying to rescue a failed state and perpetuate the family dynasty into its third generation.

PHOTOS: Kim Jong Il | 1942-2011 (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-kim-jong-il-pictures,0,5892980.photogallery)

North Korea is an anachronism of a country, more so than ever at the end of a year when the world has witnessed the collapse of undemocratic regimes in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia.

"Kim Jong Il was the glue that held the system together. We don’t know how the system will respond in his absence," said Scott Snyder, Korea expert with the Council on Foreign Relations.

"Everything could potentially change," said Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing. "The only person who had the experience and who held the exclusive power is gone."

North Korean media extolled Kim Jong Un on Monday as the “great successor” and the “outstanding leader of our party, army and people.”

But it’s not so simple. The young man is likely to be overshadowed by a powerful uncle, Jang Sung Taek.

Jang, 65, is married to Kim Jong Il’s younger sister and has spent three decades in the ruling Workers’ Party, holding key positions in the military and secret police and running North Korea’s special economic zones. His family members also hold powerful jobs with the military.FULL COVERAGE: Kim Jong Il | 1942-2011 (http://www.latimes.com/kimjongil)

In contrast, the chosen successor has a thin resume. He attended a German-language public high school in Bern, Switzerland, where he was registered as the son of a North Korean diplomat. His classmates described him as crazy about basketball and computer games.

Until September 2010, when the overweight young man with a dimpled face was named a four-star general, he was almost entirely unknown to the North Korean public. Even the exact spelling of his name was a state secret.

"Kim Jong Un has had only two years. It is not enough time to become crown prince," said Shi.

Mindful of the future leader’s inexperience, the North Korean regime appears to be trying to set up a more collective leadership, with the military taking a more prominent role. The announcement Monday of Kim’s death was signed by the four separate entities from the party, military and people’s assembly.

The younger Kim doesn't seem likely to be able to count on his siblings for much support.

His oldest brother, Kim Jong Nam, was assumed to be the heir, but fell from favor after being arrested at Tokyo’s Narita airport, trying to sneak in under a fake passport to take his son to Disneyland. Kim Jong Nam, who now lives in Macao, told Japanese television last year that he opposed the “hereditary succession into a third generation.”

Kim Jong Nam’s own son, Kim Han Sol, 16, has posted photos of himself wearing a cross on Facebook and comments on YouTube expressing concern about the hunger in North Korea.

hbcat
December 21st, 2011, 10:59 PM
Cousin, Han Solo?

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/f/f4/HanSolo.jpg/220px-HanSolo.jpg

Web Postings Stir Interest in Teenager’s Relation to North Korean Leader

By CHOE SANG-HUN (http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/author/choe-sang-hun/)
http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2011/10/08/homepage/08lede-kim/08lede-kim-articleInline.jpg
An image said to have been taken from the Facebook page of a teenager that South Korean reporters believe is related to North Korea’s leader.

The sharply dressed 17-year-old might be any fashionable South Korean teenager: bleached blond hair, an earring and a necklace with a cross-shaped pendant.

Or he might be the grandson of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

A frenzy of speculation (http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/northkorea/2011/10/03/33/0401000000AEN20111003004100315F.HTML) about the teenager, named Kim Han-sol, has gripped South Korean news organizations this week as reporters scour the Internet for any shred of evidence connecting the seemingly loquacious youngster with the deeply secretive man atop North Korea.

It began when officials at a school in Mostar, Bosnia, told reporters that they had accepted a North Korean named Kim Han-sol.

By this week, reporters had zeroed in on a teenager with the same name living in Macao who said on YouTube that he was from North Korea and was “related” to the North Korean leader. Mr. Kim’s eldest son and half brother of Kim Jong-un, the senior Kim’s designated successor, lives in Macao.

The teenager appears to have also left a string of North Korea-related comments on the Web.

‘‘Actually i eat like an average person, i can’t eat even if i had good food, cuz like i feel sorry for my ppl,’’ a user by the name of kimhs616 (http://www.youtube.com/all_comments?v=FERGk9L8lvI&page=4) wrote three years ago, in stilted English, in response to comments under a YouTube video clip of the North Korean national anthem. ‘‘I know my people are hungry.’’

On another video clip (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jp3IrUAZPoQ), the user appears less conflicted, writing “LONG LIVE DPRK,” or the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, North Korea’s official name, and, in another (http://www.youtube.com/all_comments?threaded=1&v=y7VqBv5FFzA), calling Americans “fat,” “brainwashed” and “dumb.”

South Korean news organizations have also uncovered what they believe to be photographs of the teenager, gleaned from a Facebook account that is no longer accessible.

In one, he has his arm around a girl (http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2011/10/03/2011100300523.html) and in the accompanying text she calls him “yeobo,” a term that Korean husbands and wives use in referring to each other. That is the kind of language, from a teenager, that would make a Korean grandfather turn in his grave.

Park Soo-jin, a spokeswoman at the Unification Ministry, the South Korean government agency in charge of North Korea-related affairs, said her agency was following reports about Kim Han-sol but so far had no definitive evidence that he was Kim Jong-il’s grandson.

The family name Kim is the most common among Koreans.

If the teenager is indeed Mr. Kim’s grandson, the small trove of details they have uncovered by tracing the his Internet footprints offers glimpses into what appeared to be a generational gulf inside the North’s ruling family.

Kim Han-sol had a publicly accessible Facebook profile (http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2011/10/05/2011100501487.html), two blogs and two Twitter accounts. He followed 99 Twitter accounts, including National Public Radio in the United States, Bill Gates, a Pyongyang-based propaganda Web site and South Korea’s conservative daily Chosun Ilbo, a critic of the North Korean government. His favorite movies included ‘‘Love Actually,’’ and his personal interests focused on ‘‘food, winery and spa.’’ He asked his Facebook friends whether they preferred communism or democracy — and said that he opted for the latter. But elsewhere on the Internet, he also identified his beliefs as ‘‘anti-capitalist’’ and ‘‘pro-communism.’’

He sang the praises of Kim Il-sung, the North Korean founding president and Kim Jong-il’s father. He also channeled a typical North Korean tirade against the United States, again in English: ‘‘How dumb can you americans be? like seriously, there has got to be a limit, now go drop your cigarette and your cheeseburger and go read a book.’’

But in response to a YouTube video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTxlcP7PAzg) showing hundreds of people holding candles in Seoul, the South Korean capital, he said, ‘‘North Korea is not that bright at night.’’

After South Korean media had a field day with his Internet activities, the teenager blocked access or terminated his accounts, but not before news Web sites captured and spread his photos, his Twitter postings and his Facebook and YouTube comments.

‘‘Contrary to the outside world’s general perceptions, the top North Korean elite and especially their children are very open and know a lot about the outside world,’’ said Cheong Seong-chang, a longtime researcher on the Kim Jong-il family at Sejong Institute in South Korea. ‘‘It’s safe to say that the boy we see in media is indeed Kim Jong-il’s grandson.’’

All three known sons of Kim Jong-il had studied in Europe when they were teenagers. The North Korean leader’s second son, Jong-chol, was spotted in Singapore in February attending an Eric Clapton concert.

Kim Jong-nam was born from a marriage his grandfather reportedly never approved, an issue that handicapped him when Kim Jong-il was considering which son he would designate as successor, analysts in Seoul said. Whatever chances Kim Jong-nam might have had to succeed his father evaporated when he was caught trying to enter Japan on a fake Dominican Republic passport in 2001.

He has since lived in semi-exile in China. He is believed to have one son and two daughters by two women.

This week, South Korean media discovered a Facebook account they believed belonged to Kim Jong-nam. The account posted digitally altered photos ridiculing Kim Jong-il and his half-brother, Jong-un.

The account opened under the name Kim Chol — a pseudonym South Korean media said Jong-nam uses for hotel reservations in Singapore, Hong Kong, and elsewhere in Asia — was blocked this week.

The Bosnian school, United World College, did not explicitly confirm that the student it was accepting was a grandson of Kim Jong-il. ‘‘The entry of a student from North Korea, furthermore from a very well-known family, has understandably generated surprise and comment, some of it critical,’’ it said in a statement.

But the United States-financed broadcaster Voice of America quoted a former head of the school on Thursday as confirming that he was Mr. Kim Jong-il’s grandson. The student applied for the Bosnian school after its Hong Kong affiliate could not accept him after its immigration authorities refused to give him a visa.

By Thursday, South Korean media reported that Kim Jong-nam, together with his son, might move to Europe.

‘‘By getting farther away from North Korea, his half-brother and South Korean media, he might feel safer,’’ Mr. Cheong said.

Kevin Drew contributed reporting from Hong Kong.

hbcat
December 21st, 2011, 11:05 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5TEvacFETvM

GordonGecko
December 22nd, 2011, 11:10 AM
Holy crap that would be awesome. Kim Han Sol-"o" comes in to save the day, brings freedom and nourishment to his oppressed country and re-unites with the South. The chosen one comes in - too good to be true hollywood script

GordonGecko
December 22nd, 2011, 11:24 AM
The US needs to vet this Kim Han-sol guy out then give him a visa to study at whatever school he wants

ZippyTheChimp
December 23rd, 2011, 01:08 PM
Gulag of the Mind: Why North Koreans Cry for Kim Jong Il

By Max Fisher


Shows of mass sorrow for the leader's death, whether genuine or staged,
show how this regime holds such unlikely power over a people who should hate them

http://cdn.theatlantic.com/static/mt/assets/international/nk%20dec22%20p.jpg
North Koreans cry in front of the Statue of the Sun in Pyongyang / KCNA


It doesn't really matter whether the thousands of North Koreans meant it when they wept openly, convulsively, and often convincingly in front of cameras over the death of Kim Jong Il. A New York Times article (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/21/world/asia/north-korean-mourning-blends-emotion-and-coercion.html?_r=1) on the mass mournings suggested much of it was genuine, though many may have cried "as they think they should or because they are being watched," according to a South Korean analyst. Some writers dismissed the grieving as staged obedience, others saw it as an effect of "airtight propaganda." (http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/kim-jong-ils-death-stirs-genuine-emotions/2011/12/19/gIQA0pEH5O_story.html)

The distinction is academic. Mourners who acted earnestly were shaking with grief for a man who had devastated their society several times over and made everyone who does not share his last name dramatically worse off. Those who played along, many of them so skillfully that even the most unconvincing acts seemed to rapidly become authentic, were surrendering even their own emotions to the implicit commands of the state. Whether someone is aware that he is enslaved, not just in action but in thought, to a family that has done more harm to him them than any other individual or group in the world, he is still a slave.

The power and totality of North Korean propaganda is so transformative that even the small number of people who are so disillusioned with their country that they risk their lives to escape will, once free, often continue to praise Kim Il Sung, the country's Soviet-installed founder and architect of its Orwellian police state. Last year, activists arranged a meeting between New Yorker writer Barbara Demick (http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/07/12/100712fa_fact_demick) and a North Korean who had just escaped into China. Though the young woman had abandoned her home country, she could not leave a lifetime of propaganda behind so easily. On meeting Demick, she panicked: "evil Americans are our enemies," she said.


Life in the camps is a metaphor for life on the outside

North Korea is saturated with state propaganda and little else (http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/04/north-korea-8217-s-digital-underground/8414/). Outside radio signals are jammed, while radios blasting state messages are installed in every home and impossible to turn off. Fax machines and internet access are both illegal except for a small cadre of trusted elite. Computers must be registered with the police as if they were hunting rifles. Schools double as indoctrination centers; children are taught songs with titles like "We Have Nothing to Envy In the World" as soon as they can speak. Many towns in North Korea have no cars or little food beyond cornmeal, but every single one has a movie theater (http://nothingtoenvy.com/nothing-to-envy-excerpt/), where the 40 films produced every year by state-run studios depict the greatness of the Kim family and the awfulness of the outside world.

Expression is so limited that even certain colors are off-limits for personal use. Without exposure to any ideas or version of events from outside North Korea or even from fellow North Koreans not directly involved in disseminating propaganda, people have no reason to doubt the official version: they are living in the happiest, richest country on Earth, and they are constantly beset by an external threat that could end everything if they are not vigilant. The American threat is portrayed within North Korea as ever-present and horrifying (http://theoriens.com/anti-american-propaganda-from-north-korea/). Even if you have doubts about the Kim family's rule, surely they are preferable to the American monsters who, the murals and broadcasts remind North Koreans at every opportunity, will commit unspeakable crimes if the regime lets down its guard to, for example, address the 2009 currency devaluation crisis that saw most North Koreans lose all of their savings overnight.

The regime's most powerful instrument of control is not propaganda, however, but the loyalty, often unwitting, it has painstakingly engineered into every level of society. All citizens are divided into three classes -- the "core" of loyalists at the top, the middle half or "wavering" class," and the bottom "hostile" class -- and from there into 51 sub-classes. You are demoted at the slightest disloyalty (many are worked to death in camps for failing to prevent a relative from defecting) and may be promoted for service to the state, for example by informing on a neighbor or family member. Few things are too small or too basic to be held back as "privileges" for certain classes: enough cornmeal to feed your family, a rice cooker if you prosper in government, or perhaps just knowing you are less likely to be sent to the camps.

North Korea's forced labor camps sprawl over areas the size of Houston or Los Angeles and hold an estimated 200,000 prisoners, or one percent of the North Korean population, although no one can know for sure. Many are never told why they were arrested, though a common cause is having a relative who defects; some are born in the camps and will die there. Life in the camps is an exaggerated metaphor for life on the outside. People are imprisoned with their families but turned against one another by the relentless competition for food; informing is the surest form of currency. Inmates are told that their only allies are their jailers, who though brutal are the only reliable providers of food and shelter. If an inmate commits an offense, everyone associated with him is punished severely; so cooperation with fellow inmates is dangerous and uncertain, but cooperation with the guards is safe and profitable.

Much as members of North Korea's elite "core" are driven to cutthroat competition over fear of descending to the middle "wavering" class, and likewise members of the "wavering" class over fear of bring driven to the utterly destitute "hostile" class, even concentration camp inmates have something to lose. There is an underground prison beneath at least one of the camps (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/10/AR2008121003855_pf.html), where inmates are starved and tortured over petty offenses or to force confessions against family. When Shin Dong-hyuk, the only person to ever escape from Camp 14, was dragged out of the underground prison to watch his mother and brother executed for attempting to escape, his response was not grief for his family or anger at his torture, but relief to be returning the camp. Back above ground, he continued informing on other inmates because it was the only life he knew.

The prison guards probably think of themselves as the masters, but they could be called inmates themselves. Most are on the fringes of their own class, exiled to work at the remote camps rather than in Pyongyang. Resources at the camps are scarce and competition between guards is fierce. Like the inmates, they must turn against one another if they want to advance or even be certain of survival. Like most in this country, only the state has ever provided for them. Loyalty to friends and family is conditional in a way that the state's hand is not. The stories it tells them about Dear Leader's virtue and the outside threat he protects them from must resonate in a way that little else -- often, not even family allegiance -- could. To lose the state would be to lose everything, and Kim Jong Il was the state.

A scheme as massive and complicated as North Korea could not possibly function without the consent of most of its 25 million people. That's not to say that North Koreans support Kim Jong Il's regime or like watching his son take over. Their consent comes in the smaller, day-to-day ways that an authoritarian society functions: when a farmer sends his grain to the state-run markets (http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2011/12/how-kim-jong-il-starved-north-korea/250244/), when a member of the middle "wavering" class buys a jacket produced by slave laborers, when a child informs on her peer to get a few extra kernels of corn for her hungry siblings, when someone ambivalent about Kim Jong Il's rule cries at his death anyway. None of them are necessarily seeking to bolster the Kim regime. North Korean society has been so carefully engineered that simple survival can often require consenting to Kim's rule in the small, hourly ways that seem insignificant in isolation but, taken together, continue the regime's unlikely rule uninterrupted.

Copyright © 2011 by The Atlantic Monthly Group

hbcat
December 23rd, 2011, 07:16 PM
Kim Jong-Il: "Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish"

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-12-22/chinese-bloggers-say-stay-hungry-stay-foolish-north-korea-adam-minter.html (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-12-22/chinese-bloggers-say-stay-hungry-stay-foolish-north-korea-adam-minter.html)

>>>On Dec. 20, Weibo microbloggers began to generate what some on the service quickly labeled China's joke of the year (http://weibo.com/1614868223/xCVywm5Ih). They took the line from Steve Jobs (http://topics.bloomberg.com/steve-jobs/)’s now-famous 2005 Stanford University commencement address (http://news.stanford.edu/news/2005/june15/jobs-061505.html) -- "Stay hungry. Stay foolish." -- and applied it (http://weibo.com/1819955133/xD1VIieTY) to North Korea: "Kim Jong Il’s last words to the Korean people: 'Stay hungry. Stay foolish.'"<<<

hbcat
December 23rd, 2011, 07:24 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ms4NIB6xroc

hbcat
December 23rd, 2011, 07:27 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1y0yhV6IT7o&amp;feature=related

GordonGecko
December 24th, 2011, 01:03 AM
Somebody needs to post a youtube video of a South Korean kid taking a leak on a large size photo of Kim Jung "mentally" Il

hbcat
December 24th, 2011, 03:23 AM
North Korea at Night (and not just during this period of mourning) --

14644

WizardOfOss
December 24th, 2011, 12:54 PM
Interesting story about this Kim Han-Sol kid...

Andrei Lankov also wrote an interesting article about the future of the DPRK under the leadership of Kim Jong-Un:


North Korea's Choice: Collapse or Reform
Why Demise is the Most Likely Option

The death of Kim Jong Il came unexpectedly this past weekend. Although he has visually aged much in recent years and was clearly in poor health, the news of his demise was almost a complete surprise. Indeed, in recent months, Kim Jong Il appeared to have recovered somewhat; he travelled extensively, seeming to slow the pace of dynastic transition to his son. Obviously, he did so on the assumption that he had more time to groom his heir, Kim Jon Un, to become the new leader of North Korea.

With the transfer of power now at hand, Kim Jong Un finds himself in a challenging and dangerous position without much training. Success, above all, will mean survival -- political, and, perhaps, physical as well.

Kim Jong Un’s most immediate task is to prevent any challenge from members of the top leadership. In most dictatorships, the chief bureaucrats and generals would feel ashamed to recognize a 29-year-old as the Supreme Leader, but North Korean leaders understand that instability in their divided country is likely to bring a crisis which, in turn, could provoke a popular revolution and eventual unification with the South. In such a scenario, the current elite would have no future.

With that fear in mind, North Korea’s top brass is unlikely to threaten Kim Jong Un’s claim to power. Of course, some contenders might emerge, and reports may appear in the coming days and weeks of unexpected troop movements or disappearances of prominent generals and party leaders. But most of the leadership will likely stomach the rise of Kim Jong Un in return for maintaining internal stability, a necessary condition of their position.

Should Kim Jong Un succeed in establishing himself over the next few months, policymakers and analysts will express hope that he will usher in an era of reform. But as long as he wants to remain alive and in control of North Korea, he will have little choice but to continue his father’s policies. To survive, the North Korean state will have no choice but to remain what it is now -- an anachronistic, nuclear-armed dictatorship whose population lives in an abject poverty.

It has often been suggested that North Korea can cure its economic problems by implementing Chinese-style reforms and market openings. Although such changes worked well for China and Vietnam, both ostensibly communist states, neither country encountered the political difficulties that North Korea faces -- namely, that it remains part of a divided country. Indeed, the existence of a rich and free South Korea makes the situation in North Korea unique from that in China or Vietnam. The affluence and freedom of the South represent a dire threat to North Korea, whose rulers realize that the spread of knowledge in their country about the prosperity of the outside world, particularly of their fellow Koreans in the South, would deliver a heavy blow to the legitimacy of the regime. Chinese leaders, in contrast, do not have to contend with a similarly successful capitalist twin to its communist regime (Taiwan is too small to make a difference). Had nationalist forces retained control over the entire area south of the Yangtze River and fostered the living conditions of modern-day Taiwan, no Chinese Communist leader would dare to initiate reforms.

Of course, the Chinease are aware of the prosperity enjoyed by those in the United States or Japan. But this success is seen as politically irrelevant, given that those are two other countries. With regard to North Korea, the competing model comes from fellow Koreans. The per capita income in the South is at least 15 times higher than that in the North (some claim that it is actually 40 times higher). In comparison, the income ratio between West and East Germany during the Cold War was merely 1:3.

Given these disparities, North Korean leaders recognize that they must isolate their populace from the outside world (the country might be the last nation left to ban possession of a tunable radio set). And reform will make such isolation unsustainable. Any amount of liberalization is impossible without a considerable relaxation of the information blockade and daily surveillance of civilians throughout the country. A large number of North Koreans would then be exposed to dangerous knowledge of the outside world -- above all, South Korea. Should North Korea attempt economic reforms, it would most likely not lead to a Chinese-style boom but a total collapse of the ruling elite.

Kim Jong Il seemingly recognized the threat of reform. His son might be seduced by the dreams of emulating China, but given the dire consequences that such changes would pose to himself and to his regime, it seems more likely that Kim Jong Un will heed his father’s advisers and avoid them.

If that is the case, it is also likely that Kim Jong Un will follow the counsel of those advisers with regard to North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. They are sure to instruct the new leader to maintain the country’s nuclear technology, both as an effective deterrent and diplomatic leverage. North Korean military leaders see their possession of nuclear weapons as the ultimate deterrent and believe that as long as they maintain it, foreign powers -- especially the United States -- are unlikely to attack Pyongyang. Fear of such a strike rose in the wake of U.S. interventions in Europe and the Middle East over the last two decades. After the war in Iraq, North Korean diplomats and politicians frequently told to their foreign counterparts that had Saddam Hussein truly had nuclear weapons, he likely would have stayed in power. Western intervention in Libya only further reinforced their suspicion, especially since Muammar al Qaddafi’s willingness to surrender his nuclear program did not spare him.

North Korea's ruling class also believes that it needs nuclear weapons for diplomatic purposes. Pyongyang does not want starve its population to death; Kim Jong Il probably would have preferred to see North Koreans alive and well, but he sacrificed the common people to maintain stability. And since modernization would undermine that stability, the regime cannot pursue it. The only way for North Korea’s elite to stay afloat is to squeeze aid from the outside world, and the nuclear program allows it to do so. With nuclear weapons as its blackmail, North Korea has managed to attract far more international attention and aid than countries of similar size and per capita GDP.

Under these circumstances, Kim Jong Un is likely to continue his father’s legacy. But that doesn’t mean that the current system will continue indefinitely. No country with a hyper-centralized, Stalinist economy has remained efficient for longer than two or three decades. It is difficult to see how or why North Korea could disprove this rule. The regime may maintain its centrally planned economy and political repression for now, but this will only prolong the country’s unsustainable stagnation. The longer North Korea's rulers holds on to power, the greater the gap between Pyongyang and its neighbors will be -- creating greater potential for future turmoil.
www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/136966/andrei-lankov/north-koreas-choice-collapse-or-reform?page=show (http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/136966/andrei-lankov/north-koreas-choice-collapse-or-reform?page=show)

WizardOfOss
December 24th, 2011, 01:11 PM
Something completely different, as you might have heard earlier this year a Dutch stamp trader disappeared in the DPRK, he was arrested for until recently unknown reasons, and released after some two weeks. A few days there was an interview with him in a Dutch newspaper, as it turns out he was running a business of illegally exporting propaganda paintings, with the help from people within the country.

Some of those paintings:

http://img714.imageshack.us/img714/104/2212webapppostzegel1198.jpg

http://img819.imageshack.us/img819/4891/2212webapppostzegel1051.jpg http://img27.imageshack.us/img27/4748/2212webapppostzegel1559.jpg

http://img233.imageshack.us/img233/7743/2212webapppostzegel8980.jpg

http://img696.imageshack.us/img696/4663/2212webapppostzegel2976.jpg

More pictures here (http://www.nrc.nl/inbeeld/2011/12/22/de-collectie-noord-koreaanse-staatskunst-van-de-spionerende-utrechtse-postzegelhandelaar/)

WizardOfOss
December 24th, 2011, 01:39 PM
North Korea at Night (and not just during this period of mourning) --

14644
You see that one big bright spot in the northern part? That's obviously Pyongyang, but still in better times I guess.

I made this video at the Kaeson Youth Park in the center of Pyongyang. On the left you'll see the Arch of Triumph (which of course is just a little bit taller than the one in Paris...). In daylight, you would also see lots of buildings, including the 330 meter tall Ryugyong Hotel (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ryugyong_Hotel) in the distance. At night however, there's only darkness...


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TKv84X3N784

scumonkey
December 24th, 2011, 07:09 PM
Some of those paintings are amazing -as well as your posts (keep 'em coming)!

WizardOfOss
December 24th, 2011, 08:26 PM
I've visited the Mansudae Art Studio where most of the paintings, mosaics, sculptures and other stuff are made. Amazing to see some of those artists at work, their skills are incredible. Too bad most of their talent is wasted on propaganda.

I just found out they actually have a website (http://www.mansudaeartstudio.com/) where you can order paintings, though only "light" propaganda at most. How about this one, "Liberated South":

http://img834.imageshack.us/img834/5694/kimbyongnamliberatedsou.jpg

A funny fact: there's just one single artist allowed to paint the faces of the leaders. Others paint everything around it, but not the face, that one man has to finish every painting.

hbcat
December 25th, 2011, 10:03 PM
@ WizardOfOss -- I've seen your posts here and on other North Korea threads. Your photos are special. Keem 'em coming. Any plans for another trip to the DPRK?

hbcat
December 25th, 2011, 10:07 PM
Something completely different, as you might have heard earlier this year a Dutch stamp trader disappeared in the DPRK, he was arrested for until recently unknown reasons, and released after some two weeks. A few days there was an interview with him in a Dutch newspaper, as it turns out he was running a business of illegally exporting propaganda paintings, with the help from people within the country.

Some of those paintings:

http://img27.imageshack.us/img27/4748/2212webapppostzegel1559.jpg



This one brings to mind this fellow's horrific story (an unintended effect, I am sure) --


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Jq0mZENBa0

WizardOfOss
December 26th, 2011, 07:56 AM
@ WizardOfOss -- I've seen your posts here and on other North Korea threads. Your photos are special. Keem 'em coming. Any plans for another trip to the DPRK?I was planning to go again in August, with the same small group I went with this year. One of the places we wanted to visit would be Mt. Paektu, the official birthplace of Kim Jong-Il (while in reality he was born in Russia). Unfortunately, two of them had to cancel those plans because of financial reasons, so those plans have to wait for another year. I might however go for a few days in April, during the 100th birthday celebrations of Kim Il-Sung.

By the way, you're living in Taiwan I guess? That's still on top of my "to go"-list. I should have went about a year ago, because of trouble at the office I had to cancel that. But maybe next year...

WizardOfOss
December 26th, 2011, 08:31 AM
Interesting video also. I knew of the story of Hyok Kang, there's a book (This is Paradise! (http://www.amazon.com/This-Paradise-North-Korean-Childhood/dp/0316729663)) about his childhood in the DPRK. It starts like just some kind of adventure story, but more and more turns into pure horror. But I never heard of the story of Shin Dong-hyuk, which is even more terrifying. Just absurd things like this can still happen in the 21st century, while the world hardly seems to care.

Merry
December 27th, 2011, 01:29 AM
A 7-Mile Rainbow for Kim Jong-il

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-18mSUobuM6Y/TvNPffmxnrI/AAAAAAAADsU/GnFZDud04Mw/s1600/rainbowover.jpg
.

Ben Masterton-Smith, recipient of the inaugural RIBA Norman Foster Traveling Scholarship in 2007, visited North Korea for a period of architectural and spatial research. One of the many outcomes of that trip was Ben's diploma project, part of which proposed a farcical realization of a 7-mile rainbow reportedly seen on the occasion of Kim Jong-il's birth.

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Cca1oo50MHU/TvNPUjLdS_I/AAAAAAAADrM/ZB4CcIq0hbw/s1600/vinyldelivery.jpg

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-xYFHwbstLj0/TvNPe05Pw0I/AAAAAAAADr8/FwkVx8VCj-w/s1600/rainbowsegmentconstruction.jpg
[Image: Assembling the rainbow; images by Ben Masterton-Smith].

Truckloads of vinyl are delivered to the capital city; teams of "volunteers" pump vast amounts of air into the unfolding structures—the [I]imperial inflatable as architectural type; and, lo, the titanic pink and purple form ascends to its nostalgic place in the public firmament, assembled ring by ring across the sky.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-61fTY1V-M9M/TvNPUVbvwYI/AAAAAAAADrA/BlrobRczYkU/s1600/riverrainbow.jpg
[Image: The glorious 7-mile rainbow takes form].

While I have cherry-picked only one aspect of Ben's overall North Korean research project, and thus this might seem like a bit of a one-note flute, I have to say that the absurdly over-the-top scale of the proposal actually seems spot-on for an architectural critique of Kim Jong-il's surreal stage-managing of North Korean life.

In many ways, this spatial realization of the state's own ridiculous mythology serves as a sadly necessary—because totally delirious—over-compensation for the otherwise monumentally vacuous cityscapes (http://www.behance.net/gallery/Welcome-to-Pyongyang/827508) of North Korean urbanism, as if the grotesque political spectacle of a pink rainbow soaring seven miles over the city might retroactively justify that city's empty stagecraft.

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-99q-vZB_UbM/TvNPVL7pQNI/AAAAAAAADrg/YnRmwoInCuI/s1600/rainbowconstructiondrawing.jpghttp://2.bp.blogspot.com/-rdhemhxoxEw/TvNPVT5zVzI/AAAAAAAADrw/ytIoZg8W7n4/s1600/rainbowconstructiondrawing2.jpg
[Images: Rainbow diagrams by Ben Masterton-Smith].

In the annals of dictatorial natural history—where, apparently, "even nature is mourning (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-16297811)" the death of Kim Jong-il—the tongue-in-cheek architectural manifestation of an otherwise impossible worldly phenomena acts not as celebration but as spatial parody. It is sarcasm, we might say, given architectural form.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-kfpWQVn-ftY/TvNPU1ERvgI/AAAAAAAADrY/RsBlsGF2KH0/s1600/rainbowconstruction.jpg
[Image: The rainbow under construction; image by Ben Masterton-Smith].

In any case, a few more images from the project are available on Ben's Flickr page (http://www.flickr.com/photos/benms/sets/72157608531439590/).

http://bldgblog.blogspot.com/2011/12/7-mile-rainbow-for-kim-jong-il.html

ZippyTheChimp
December 29th, 2011, 11:23 AM
Kim Jong Un was officially declared "Supreme Leader"

after it was discovered that Fearless Leader (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fearless_Leader) was already taken.

hbcat
December 29th, 2011, 12:23 PM
14658

lofter1
December 29th, 2011, 01:18 PM
The One and Only Supreme Leader ...

http://www.chartstats.com/images/artwork/25237.jpg

ZippyTheChimp
December 29th, 2011, 01:20 PM
The DPRK really needs the Book of Titles and Appellations.

Meanwhile, here's the world's record for largest photo atop a funeral limo.

http://images.ctv.ca/archives/CTVNews/img2/20111228/800_kim_jong_il_funeral_pyongyang_ap_111228.jpg


EDIT: Hey. That's a 1970s Lincoln Town Car.

lofter1
December 29th, 2011, 01:27 PM
Somebody elsewhere noted that almost every car in the funeral procession is American made, and vintage.

Kind of like what's found in Cuba, but from a more unfortunate era. And the weather is far worse.

WizardOfOss
December 29th, 2011, 03:29 PM
No matter how much they hate American Imperialist Aggressors, they even like the Hummer:

http://img812.imageshack.us/img812/7915/hummerpyongyang2.jpg

Hof
December 30th, 2011, 01:56 PM
I watched a raw live China TV feed that showed the miles of black-clad mourners, actually mourning, who seemed to weep uncontrollibly as Kim's Lincoln passed. The station would switch to a Pyongyang newsperson who would repeatedly sob and break down as she read the story to the camera, a gloomy, ponderous funerial dirge playing in the background. A man in a suit came on-scene and consoled her, then HE began massively weeping and they both exited stage left. Unfortunately, none of this was translated, so I have no idea what was said, but it began to look phony. This went on for a long time, the cameras catching groups of schoolgirls or guys in neckties who would exhibit open, often graphic compulsive grief as they followed the cortege carrying the Dear Leader's corpse along Pyongyang's snowy streets. They were ALL dressed in Black and semed to stand in nice, neat rows as they lined the street by the thousands. Episodes of mass weeping or moaning would occur and the cameras would go there, LIVE!!!
I'm sure there were SOME among them who were genuinely saddened by his death, but, come on!!
It was over the top, almost light comedy.
What did Kim DO to his people??? How can this kind of semi-ridiculous mass hysteria be so common and widespread as the N. Koreans would like us to believe and accept?? Were they all forced to go to the funeral and act out in public if they wanted to get their daily rice allotment, or what???
The entire society needs immediate psychiatric help, it would seem.
The power of the graphic lie, propaganda, is strong in Democratic North Korea. Look what it can do.

WizardOfOss
December 30th, 2011, 02:41 PM
Did you have a look at the people not directly in front of the camera? I got the impression people only started to act hysterical right in front of the camera. And for good reason: as long as you seem just a little more devastated than the person next to you, you're probably safe. Most people in the back looked sad (even the slightest smile probably would be reason enough to send you to the gulag), but not hysterical.

On the other hand, let's not forget everything we saw was from Pyongyang. Even when that's far below our western standards, living there is not that horrible. It's considered a huge privilege to be allowed to live there, as there still is some decent housing, no serious food shortages, shops that actually sell something, public transportation, restaurants, theaters, and sometimes even electricity at night. It's the good life of North Korea. A lot of those people probably are a little higher ranking party members who have (or at least think so) everything to loose when the regime collapses. In Korea they are the elite, all thanks to Kim Jong-Il. In the real world they won't stand a chance.

Fabrizio
December 30th, 2011, 03:07 PM
There is no difference between the '75 and '76 grille... but the wheelcovers say Kim's Lincoln is a '75:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v33/ronaldo/6202877426_63083b54b0_b.jpg

ZippyTheChimp
December 30th, 2011, 03:08 PM
In Korea they are the elite, all thanks to Kim Jong-Il.I suppose a military-family is high up the social ladder.

WizardOfOss
December 30th, 2011, 04:58 PM
Depends on the rank or achievements, but definitely.

hbcat
December 30th, 2011, 07:04 PM
North Korea is my Room 101. It is my vision of hell. The violence to these people's minds is unimaginable.

ZippyTheChimp
December 31st, 2011, 09:14 AM
9-Foot-Tall Supersoldier Mourns Kim Jong Il

By J.J. Gould

At the Wire today, Dashiell Bennett highlights the North Korean state news agency's apparently random manipulation of an image (http://www.theatlanticwire.com/global/2011/12/north-korea-doctored-photo-kim-jong-ils-funeral-no-reason/46754/) from yesterday's funeral procession for Kim Jong Il -- a crude photoshop job done, Bennett notes, "in such a minor and pointless way that it underscores the paranoid insanity of totalitarian regimes." Meanwhile, over on Reddit, a user links to an Imagur upload of another photo containing a remarkable detail: what appears to be a member of the military in the back row of an orderly formation of mourners, as Kim's funeral procession passes near the Kumsusan Memorial Palace in Pyongyang, standing at least nine feet tall.


http://cdn.theatlantic.com/static/mt/assets/international/korean%20supersoldier.jpg

You might think it's another sign of the North Korean regime's posturing mania that it would want to doctor-in an image like this. But the photo comes straight from the Associated Press, with no credit noted to KCNA (the notoriously creative North Korean news agency), and was, as it happens, included in Alan Taylor's post (http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2011/12/north-korea-mourns-kim-jong-il/100215/#img26) on the Kim funeral here at The Atlantic yesterday.

Bear in mind, endemic malnutrition has meant that the average adult North Korean male is more than two inches shorter (http://blogs.wsj.com/numbersguy/the-korean-height-gap-431/) than the average South Korean, who's in turn a couple of inches shorter than the average American. Factoring that into a close look, this serviceman of the Democratic People's Republic, whoever he is, would still clear 8-and-a-half feet.

Update 1: Taylor has sent over a closer crop of the image, with the exposure brightened so you can better make the figure out. Behold:


http://cdn.theatlantic.com/static/mt/assets/international/1%20supersoldier%20zoom.jpg

Update 2: Theories! They're ranging from everyone's natural first guess (Alex Fleck, below: "It's obviously three children stacked one atop the other Little Rascals-style"), to the terrifying possibility that Slender Man (http://ufosearchonline.com/ufo/2010/09/slender-man-sightings/) has joined North Korea (per Evan Plant Bradley), to the less-terrifying (at least for non- basketball fans) plausibility that our peripheral mystery figure is none other than Ri Myung Hun / Michael Ri (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ri_Myung_Hun) (well done, Matt Delaney).



http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=koKcUDFVkFY

Copyright © 2011 by The Atlantic Monthly Group

dougm
January 2nd, 2012, 01:54 AM
Did you have a look at the people not directly in front of the camera? I got the impression people only started to act hysterical right in front of the camera. And for good reason: as long as you seem just a little more devastated than the person next to you, you're probably safe. Most people in the back looked sad (even the slightest smile probably would be reason enough to send you to the gulag), but not hysterical.

On the other hand, let's not forget everything we saw was from Pyongyang. Even when that's far below our western standards, living there is not that horrible. It's considered a huge privilege to be allowed to live there, as there still is some decent housing, no serious food shortages, shops that actually sell something, public transportation, restaurants, theaters, and sometimes even electricity at night. It's the good life of North Korea. A lot of those people probably are a little higher ranking party members who have (or at least think so) everything to loose when the regime collapses. In Korea they are the elite, all thanks to Kim Jong-Il. In the real world they won't stand a chance.

It all depends on them blocking information from the outside. Then they can make people think it is a privaledge to live in Pyongyang, not realizing how pathetic that is compared to even the most mediocre existance in most modern countries. It's pretty sad that the people think that they are lucky to live somewhere you can actually get electricity most of the time, and there is usually food to buy.

WizardOfOss
January 2nd, 2012, 04:16 PM
Partly true. Most if not all North-Koreans know they're being lied to. They just don't know the extent of the lie. Even the Koreans who make it across the border and end up in remote, rather poor parts of China (most of them return to Korea after earning some money, otherwise their families would pay the price) consider that true paradise. They simply cannot imagine something like the wealth we just take for granted.

GordonGecko
January 3rd, 2012, 12:55 PM
Exactly, they probably have no idea to what extent they are being lied to. There have been full generations now who have been raised within this cult, and it truly is a cult. Everyone is told how to act, under real and present threat of severe punishment. Everyone is expected to tow the line, and there is so little to go around that people will eagerly turn eachother in to get any tiny reward they can.

If one day a cruise missile wiped out the entire leadership of NK and the South Koreans came in to fill the vacuum, the whole populace would wander out dazed and confused like some abused kid who was kept in the closet for 20 years. They would be mentally damaged for decades to come on a scale magnitudes worse that East Germany. Maybe the best result for them would be to be overtaken by China, where they would at least be in a quasi-free economic system yet under strict control that could transition them out

Ninjahedge
January 3rd, 2012, 05:20 PM
GG, they would fight the SK's and blame them ,and the Evil baby-burning Americans for all that was ill in their world.

Humans are not the most rational critters on this planet.

I think Bacteria are, but I have not asked their opinion.

ZippyTheChimp
January 12th, 2012, 11:54 AM
Kim Jong Il - a.k.a. Ramesses (the Dear?)



Late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's body to lie in state in perpetuity in palace

Published January 12, 2012

PYONGYANG, North Korea – North Korea announced Thursday that the body of Kim Jong Il will lie in state in perpetuity in a Pyongyang palace and memorial towers will be built nationwide, as part of plans to honor the late leader.

Kim died on December 17, 2011 of a heart attack at age 69 after 17 years in charge of the impoverished but nuclear-armed nation. His son Kim Jong Un has taken over the leadership.

The ruling Communist Party, describing the late Kim as its "eternal leader," announced that his body would lie in state at the Kumsusan Memorial Palace, AFP reported.

Kim's corpse was on display at the palace before an elaborate funeral on December 28. The embalmed body of his father, founding president Kim Il Sung, is on view to favored visitors at the building.

The party, in a report carried by the official news agency, announced plans for a statue to Kim Jong Il. It also said smiling portraits "and towers to his immortality" would be built nationwide.

His birthday on February 16, "the greatest auspicious holiday of the nation," would be named the Day of the Shining Star, according to the decision made by the political bureau of the party's central committee.

The late Kims were the subject of a massive personality cult that bestowed near-godlike status on them. Kim Il Sung, whose birthday on April 15 is known as the Day of the Sun, was declared eternal president after his death in 1994.

The North is now burnishing the image of Kim Jong Un, who is aged in his late 20s.

Paik Hak Soon, of Seoul's Sejong Institute think tank, said Thursday's announcement indicated that Kim Jong Il's body would be embalmed and put on display, just like his father.

"It shows the absolute authority of the past leaders and is also aimed at boosting Kim Jong Un's status as their direct descendant," he said.

The announcement gave few details on what kind of statue would commemorate Kim Jong Il.

A towering bronze statue of Kim Il Sung, unveiled in 1972 to mark his 60th birthday, is customarily the first stop for foreign visitors to Pyongyang. Tour groups or individuals are expected to lay flowers at its feet.

Thursday's statement came in the wake of a report that North Korean authorities had begun to punish citizens who did not display enough sadness at Kim Jong Il's death.

"The authorities are handing down at least six months in a labor training camp to anybody who didn't participate in the organized gatherings during the mourning period, or who did participate but didn't cry and didn't seem genuine," The Daily NK said, citing a source in North Hamkyung province in North Korea.

The online paper -- which is based in South Korea and run by opponents of the North Korean government -- said that the source reported that those critical of the country's dynastic system were being sent to re-education camps or banished with their families to remote areas.

GordonGecko
January 12th, 2012, 12:30 PM
"memorial towers will be built nationwide, as part of plans to honor the late leader."

Makes sense to me. When your country has little economic activity and your populace is starving, the logical thing to do is put all your efforts into building memorial towers for the man who put you in that position. They should probably burn all their grain to heat the smelter fires so they can cast extra large statues to inspire everyone into building more memorial towers

Ninjahedge
January 12th, 2012, 01:08 PM
I am wondering just how much pressure you can put on the people before they simply get completely crushed underneath and the institution that is crushing them finds itself with no real foundation.

I do not think they face a threat of rebellion at this point, just self induced destruction.

Hof
January 15th, 2012, 05:06 PM
I caught a brief moment on one of the news channels. The newsperson mentioned that the N Korean mind police have been reviewing the films from Kim's weepy cortege, and they have been able to identify some in the crowds who were NOT weeping. Those people have been taken into custody and will be forced to attend a 6-month "re-education camp" so they can reacquaint themselves with the teachings of the Great Leader.
I am not making this up.

GordonGecko
January 15th, 2012, 11:04 PM
makes sense, a state of mental patients can't exist if everyone isn't crying mindlessly like a mental patient

hbcat
January 16th, 2012, 01:34 AM
Kim Jong-nam Resurfaces in Beijinghttp://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2012/01/16/2012011601009.html

http://english.chosun.com/site/data/img_dir/2012/01/16/2012011600769_0.jpgFormer North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's eldest son Kim Jong-nam is bombarded with questions from reporters at an airport in Beijing in February 2007 (file photo). /Kyoto-Yonhap
Former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's eldest son Kim Jong-nam has resurfaced in Beijing a month after his father's death. He was spotted by South Koreans including Park Seung-jun, a professor of Chinese Language and Literature at Incheon University, waiting at Terminal 3 of Beijing Capital International Airport for an Air China flight to Macau on Saturday afternoon.

Kim Jong-nam was wearing a padded navy blue jacket, jeans and a light-blue baseball cap. He was alone.

Witnesses spotted Kim in the Air China business lounge searching the Internet on a computer. Asked if he had ever visited South Korea, Kim answered, "How can I go to [South] Korea?" Badgered by a businessman to write the words "peaceful reunification" on a piece of paper, Kim wrote in English, "peace."

Park and his companions ran into Kim again at the gate before he boarded Air China flight 3603 to Macau at 4:15 p.m. When Park asked him, "Aren't you Kim Jong-nam?" he replied, "Yes. Yes, that's right." Asked if he was on his way to Macau and whether he usually traveled alone, Kim replied, "I usually do. I travel by myself." The group asked him if he had been surprised by his father's sudden death, and Kim said, "It's only natural."

In response to the question whether he had attended his father's funeral, he mumbled a response. The group put it to him that as the eldest son he now finds himself with a responsibility to take care of his younger brothers, including heir to the leadership Kim Jong-un, and Kim Jong-nam replied, "I guess so."

Kim was said to have perspired a lot even though it was not very hot in the airport. He appeared nervous, constantly looking around as he waited in front of the gate and clutching a brown bag. His Korean sounded awkward and stilted. There were no bodyguards.

Kim is a frequent visitor to Beijing, where his first wife and son Kum-sol (15) live.

Diplomatic sources in Beijing say Kim Jong-nam was holed up at his home in Macau after his father's death and did not attend the funeral. His name was certainly not on the list of officials who attended. But his first wife Shin Jong-hui, who had apparently found favor in Kim Jong-il's eyes, and his son Kum-sol did apparently attend.

Last week, Japan's Tokyo Shimbun daily quoted an e-mail from Kim Jong-nam denouncing the dynastic power transfer in North Korea.

ZippyTheChimp
February 10th, 2012, 07:51 PM
The Un-Leader?

Tweets flying around today that Kim Jong Un was assassinated in Beijing, and a coup is underway in North Korea. Seems like nonsense, except that if it were true, this is probably how it would play out as news in North Korea and China - very little, if any, information released until an acceptable story is formulated.

It started at Weibo (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microblogging_in_China), and got picked up by others and went viral. Here's a Google translation of the Weibo source. (http://translate.google.com/translate?sl=zh-CN&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&u=s.weibo.com%2Fweibo%2F%2525E9%252587%252591%2525 E6%2525AD%2525A3%2525E6%252581%2525A9%3Ftopnav%3D1&act=url)

GordonGecko
February 11th, 2012, 12:58 AM
Is Weibo the Asian version of Incarcerated Bob

scumonkey
February 11th, 2012, 01:07 AM
http://a.abcnews.com/images/ThisWeek/abc_luis_martinez_090309_2_cutout.jpg (http://abcnews.go.com/author/luis_martinez) By Luis Martinez (http://abcnews.go.com/author/luis_martinez)
@LMartinezABC (http://twitter.com/LMartinezABC)
Follow on Twitter (http://twitter.com/LMartinezABC)

Feb 10, 2012 7:14pm
US Officials Say Kim Jong Un Assassination Rumors Untrue

http://a.abcnews.com/blogs/politics/wp-content/themes/abc/img/transparent.gifEmail (http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/02/us-officials-say-kim-jong-un-assassination-rumors-untrue/#) http://a.abcnews.com/blogs/politics/wp-content/themes/abc/img/transparent.gif (http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/02/us-officials-say-kim-jong-un-assassination-rumors-untrue/#) 8 (http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/02/us-officials-say-kim-jong-un-assassination-rumors-untrue/#comments) Smaller Font (http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/02/us-officials-say-kim-jong-un-assassination-rumors-untrue/#) Text (http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/02/us-officials-say-kim-jong-un-assassination-rumors-untrue/#) Larger Text (http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/02/us-officials-say-kim-jong-un-assassination-rumors-untrue/#) | Print (http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/02/us-officials-say-kim-jong-un-assassination-rumors-untrue/#)

http://abcnews.go.com/images/International/gty_kim_jong_un_lunar_new_year_thg_120210_wblog.jp gKNS/AFP/Getty Images

The Internet was abuzz with rumors today that North Korea’s newly installed leader, Kim Jong Un, was assassinated during a trip to Beijing, but U.S. officials are debunking the reports as not true.
Several U.S. officials contacted by ABC News said there was no validity to the reports that originated on a Chinese social media site and soon spread to Twitter.
“There’s nothing to this, ” said one U.S. official, who added that there were no indications that the reports were true.
Another U.S. official said, “Our experts are monitoring the situation and we see no abnormal activity on the [Korean] peninsula and nothing that credits that tweet as accurate.”
North Korean troop movements on the North Korean side of the border are often an indicator that the country’s leadership is preparing for tense situations, much as what happened when Kim Jong Un assumed power late last year.
Sina Weibo, a Chinese equivalent of Twitter, saw a spike in traffic repeating uncorroborated reports that Kim had been assassinated during a visit to Beijing.
The story gained traction on Twitter with re-tweets of what appeared to be confirmation of the reports by two BBC Twitter accounts. However, a BBC Web article reported those twitter handles were fakes and have since been closed.
Today’s Internet rumors were not the first time that Kim has been the focus of social media rumors. In early January, postings to Sina Weibo began to appear claiming that Kim had been overthrown in a military coup. Since then, the Chinese government has been eliminating those postings from the site. The same is happening with today’s rumors on the social media site.
There were also rumors that Kim Jong Un had ordered the assassination of his half-brother, Kim Jong Nam, the eldest of Kim Jong Il’s children, who was passed over as his successor.

http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/02/us-officials-say-kim-jong-un-assassination-rumors-untrue/

ZippyTheChimp
November 27th, 2012, 10:25 AM
Taking a joke to the next level.



Kim Jong-Un Named The Onion's Sexiest Man Alive For 2012 (http://www.theonion.com/articles/kim-jongun-named-the-onions-sexiest-man-alive-for,30379/)

The news was duly reported in China's People's Daily Online:


U.S. website The Onion has named North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong Un as the "Sexiest Man Alive for the year 2012". (http://english.people.com.cn/102774/8036938.html)

Kim Jong Un
http://english.people.com.cn/mediafile/201211/27/F201211271422583922539620.jpg

Kim Jong Un after reading People's Daily Online
http://english.people.com.cn/mediafile/201211/27/F201211271114166345172583.jpg

GordonGecko
November 27th, 2012, 10:36 AM
gangnam style baby

eddhead
November 27th, 2012, 02:35 PM
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHHAHAHAHA - wheeze, gasp - HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

ZippyTheChimp
December 4th, 2012, 11:58 PM
http://cdn.theatlantic.com/static/infocus/2012yip120412/s_y43_24020184.jpg

A jumbo screen backdrop at a concert held in Pyongyang on April 24, 2012, celebrating the 80th anniversary of the founding of the North Korean army.

As a photo, the imagery is something else.

Ninjahedge
December 5th, 2012, 10:15 AM
/me hears Monty Python theme song.....

GordonGecko
December 5th, 2012, 10:51 AM
In Sadam's Iraq the guy at the end of his finger would be lying in a ditch face down by now

ZippyTheChimp
December 5th, 2012, 11:13 AM
/me hears Monty Python theme song.....


In Sadam's Iraq the guy at the end of his finger would be lying in a ditch face down by now

That reminds me of that bug-eyed comedian, Marty Feldman (Igor in Young Frankenstein), who died way too young. He had a show in the 1070s called The Marty Feldman Comedy Machine. It didin't last long, and I don't remember it being good, except for the opening and closing credits by Terry Gilliam.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XrQxODmd6NY

Ninjahedge
December 5th, 2012, 03:03 PM
Terry was an absolute psycho.

Very funny, very creative, but you look at his animations and movies (Brazil, 12 Monkeys) and just have to wonder.....

GordonGecko
December 12th, 2012, 10:23 AM
North Koreans Launch Rocket in Defiant Act
http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2012/12/13/world/asia/13nkoreaspan/13nkoreaspan-articleLarge.jpg
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/13/world/asia/north-korea-rocket-launching.html

I bet you that video mosaic is made up of SAMSUNG flat panels :P

Ninjahedge
December 12th, 2012, 04:01 PM
Important to have a control room that looks like something out of a 1980's Bond flik......

hbcat
December 15th, 2012, 10:32 PM
Terry was an absolute .

Terry Gilliam "was"? I saw an interview with him not so very long ago.

Ninjahedge
December 17th, 2012, 01:44 PM
Now he is just old.

For some reason, when you get old, your "crazy factor" gets demoted... ;)