North Korean paintings of contemporary China as a socialist utopia
07:27 am


North Korea

CCTV Tower with Bountiful Harvest
“CCTV Tower with Bountiful Harvest”
In their exhibition “The Beautiful Future” at Beijing Design Week a few weeks ago, westerners Nick Bonner (Koryo Tours) and Dominic Johnson-Hill (Plastered8) pulled something of a Komar and Melamid when they commissioned paintings of contemporary China from North Korean artists.

The remarkable canvases that resulted challenge one’s notions of irony or protest—they seem incredibly pointed but may have been meant sincerely. One suspects that the fantastic juxtapositions—Maoist uniforms and karaoke, or socialist flags and office cubicles—were at a bare minimum prompted as compelling subjects by Bonner and Johnson-Hill. It’s a little unclear.

Several of the paintings feature notable architectural gems of the recent past, including the Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei, the Beijing National Aquatics Center by PTW Architects, and the CCTV Headquarters by the Office for Metropolitan Architecture.

As a deadpan provocation, it’s pretty fabulous.
Office Culture for Prosperity
“Office Culture for Prosperity”
City Migration
“City Migration”
Bird's Nest, Home of the People
“Bird’s Nest, Home of the People”
Water Cube for Clean Air and Healthy Life
“Water Cube for Clean Air and Healthy Life”
KTV Gives Us a Voice
“KTV Gives Us a Voice”
Disco Night to Enhance the Day
“Disco Night to Enhance the Day”
Glorious CCTV Tower
“Glorious CCTV Tower”
via designboom

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Zany North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un gives gifts of Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ to senior officials
01:24 pm

Current Events
Stupid or Evil?

North Korea
Kim Jong Un

Kim Jong Un gave a lecture to high-ranking officials earlier this year where he mentioned that Adolph Hitler had managed to rebuild Germany in just a short time after it had been defeated in WWI and has directed his subordinates to study which aspects of the Third Reich’s rule would have implications for North Korea. He has reported also given gifts of Mein Kampf to senior officials.

A source told New Focus International, a North Korean news organization that sources from both defectors and anonymous citizens from within the country that the boy dictator wants to see if there are “practical applications” for North Korea to learn from Hitler’s successes and bolster the desperately poor state. Shirley Lee, New Focus’s international editor told The Washington Post by email that some of her sources think North Korea, a country heavy on race-baiting and its supposedly charismatic dictators, has a lot in common with Germany, although it’s probably the Nazis’ propaganda machine that is being the most closely studied, not the Final Solution (who would they pogrom against in NoKo anyway?):

“One source says there have been many overt attempts to imbue Kim Jong Un with an ‘intimidating charisma,’ such as having him shout very forcefully at associates (Kim Jong Il was never seen to do such a thing) and even throwing things at people. According to another source, this may explain why the [official state newspaper] Rodong Sinmun has been showing photos of Kim Jong Un looking angry and scary – again, unprecedented in the history of Kim presentation.”

Yeah, you, Mister Totalitarian Dictator, butch it up!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Americans are bird-eating, gun-crazed, kid-killing junkies says North Korean propaganda
12:19 pm


North Korea

Unidentified American drinks a cuppa snow

Life in modern day America according to North Korean propaganda…

“This man, a former Republican candidate for Oregon who now has to get coffee, made from snow, from these trucks.”

“The weather is freezing, but the hot snow tastes nice.”

“These telephones do not work. There is no one to call.”

I’d give this one Pinocchio…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Introducing The-Dear-Leader-To-Be: Kim Jong-Un?

(Kim Jong-Un, left, beside his father, Kim Jong-Il)
How do you know you’re being groomed for something higher in North Korea?  Rather than feed your own people, you organize a pricey fireworks display!

The Mainichi newspaper printed a photo of a round-faced and well-dressed man accompanying North Korea’s “Dear Leader” on a visit to a steel mill in North Hamgyong Province in March.

Kim Jong-un is being groomed to take over from his father, whom some experts believe to be suffering from the after-effects of a stroke that has been worsened by long-standing diabetes as well as kidney and heart disease.  Little is known of his third son and the last photos confirmed to have been of Kim Jong-un were taken when he was in his early teens. Now believed to be in his late 20s, North Korea’s state-run media has been gradually raising his profile over the last 18 months, since his two other brothers apparently fell out of favour.

Kim Jong-un last week organised the fireworks display along the Taedong River in Pyongyang to mark “The Day of the Sun,” the 98th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il-sung, the founder of the nation and Kim Jong-il’s father.  Kim Jong-il was himself entrusted with the event shortly before assuming a more important role in the Central Committee of the North Korean Workers’ Party.
The lavish fireworks display is estimated to have cost $5.4 million (£3.5 million).

This week, China, North Korea’s closest ally, predicted serious food shortages in North Korea in May due to a poor harvest last year. The regime reportedly requires 2 million tons of corn and other foodstuffs to stave off another famine.

North Korea: Rare Photograph of Kim Jong-il’s Heir Apparent Emerges

Posted by Bradley Novicoff | Leave a comment
North Korea’s Not So Funny “It’s So Funny”

If you’re left unamused by the shameless mugging on Friends, you won’t be laughing much at this either.  Who knew North Korea had a long-running sitcom on the…oh my God, beans?  Hysterical!
(via HuffPo)

Posted by Bradley Novicoff | Leave a comment
What North Korean Children Sing About When They Sing About Us
12:48 pm

Current Events

North Korea

Three new books on North Korea were given a great round-up by Dwight Garner in today’s New York Times.  But I did find one detail in the review particularly compelling.  It was from Barbara Demick’s book (excellent, according to the NYT), Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea:

How are North Koreans taught to think about us?  Well, here?

Posted by Bradley Novicoff | Leave a comment
Holding Hands In The Dark: Finding Love In North Korea
02:22 pm


North Korea
Hand Holding

Who would have thought there might be a romantic upside to living under a repressive regime?  Barbara Demick, the Beijing Bureau Chief at the LA Times, had an excerpt from her upcoming book, Nothing To Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea running in the magazine over the weekend.

Pretty much the entire country is starved for not just food but power (see map above).  A lack of electricity, though, makes it much easier to choreograph a romantic rendezvous—especially when being seen in public might damage a career prospect, or, in the case of the woman discussed in Demick’s account, damage a virtuous reputation.

...their dates consisted of long walks in the dark. There was nothing else to do anyway; by the time they started dating in the early 1990s, no restaurants or cinemas were operating because of the lack of power.

They would meet after dinner.  The girl had instructed her boyfriend not to knock on the door and risk questions from her older sisters or younger brother.  The clatter of the neighbors masked the sound of his footsteps.  He would wait hours for her.  It didn?

Posted by Bradley Novicoff | Leave a comment