Posts Tagged ‘Propaganda’

SMUGGLER:  Didn’t a flock of doves appear with plump grains of rice in their beaks to drop on the heads of your loyal family so your son would grow robust and strong and one day be chosen as a gymnast for the Mass Games on the Dear Leader’s birthday?

You for Me for You, scene 15 by Mia Chung

For anyone interested in learning more about the Mass Games referenced in scene 15– the following article is quite spectacular.  It provides a rare glimpse into the one time each year that North Korea opens its borders to outside scrutiny.  The result is a fantastic (and staggering) display of color, spectacle, and cultural pride.

From the GlobalPost.com:

The Mass Games, or Arirang Festival, is a gargantuan gymnastics show that takes place in North Korea every year between August and October.

The event provides a rare and colorful glimpse into a country largely sealed off from the outside world.

It is only during the staging of the mass games that North Korea opens its borders to American tourists.  This year Sam Gellman visted during this period.

Bringing along his camera, Gellman photographed the awe-inspiring blend of music, acrobatics and synchronized motion.

“The background image may be the most interesting of all as it is a constantly changing mural created by the flip-cards held by 30,000 children,” Gellman said.

“One message that was clear to me throughout was the communist tenant of the group over the individual, which shines through every aspect of the 90-minute show.”

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As stated elsewhere in this blog, through the use of propaganda, the North Korean government is able to provide a sense of national pride in its people while simultaneously completely limiting their personal freedoms.  They are able to do this by maintaining complete control over all media:  Film, art, television, and music…

Footsteps

Song of General Kim Jong Il (no subtitles)

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It is estimated that a full one third of all North Koreans live in chronic hunger.  The countries juche philosophy of self-reliance prevents North Korea from trading with other countries and bolstering their own economy.

Simply put, North Koreans do not have the resources or infrastructure in place to provide for their more than 24 million citizens.  As such, many of them, the pampered elite in Pyongyang notwithstanding, suffer from malnutrition and hunger.

This hunger problem came to a head in the mid-90’s as a terrible famine plagued the Korean peninsula turning the hunger problem into a full-blown human rights disaster.  Called The Arduous March, the famine occurred from 1994 – 1998.  Due to the isolation of the country and complete lack of transparency on the part of the regime, death estimates vary widely.  Lower estimates place the death due to complications of the famine between 240,000 and 800,000 people.  More severe estimates are much higher:  1.5 to 3.5 million.

Regardless of the total number of deaths, the North Korean response to the Arduous March was a gross example of economic mismanagement by the Kim regime.

The country pulled through the famine by opening its borders to international relief from countries such as China, Japan, South Korea (as a part of the Sunshine Policy), and ironically enough– the United States.

The famine also gave rise to a series of propaganda art calling for the country to pitch in and help with the food shortage.  Such slogans as “let’s all work and eat two meals a day” and “we have lots of food” found their way into circulation.

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It is well established that North Koreans are taught from birth to loathe the United States, which they see as capitalist oppressors who (falsely) began the Korean War.  These ideas are constantly being reinforced by propaganda posters plastered throughout the country.  Below is a slide show of many such propaganda posters depicting strongly anti-American sentiments.

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