posts about or somewhat related to ‘north korea’

Our party’s timely, accurate decision to purge the anti-party, anti-revolutionary elements helped greatly cement solidarity within our party.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on the execution of his uncle, Chang Song-thaek, during a new year’s address broadcast on state television, via The BBC. Korean leader Kim Jong-un hails execution of uncle.

FJP: We’re sure it did.

Uncensored Instagram Photos from North Korea
via Just Something:

David Guttenfelder is the Associated Press Chief Photographer for Asia, almost a legend in photojournalism. He’s been traveling the world for the most part of his life documenting events like the genocide in Rwanda, the Israeli Palestinian conflict, three different Olympic games and many other historical events. He is a seven-time World Press Award winner and has gained various other awards during his brilliant career.
He’s recently been documenting North Korea and since their authorities loosened a bit their restrict policies about photojournalism he’s been one of the first photographers allowed to bring a smartphone inside the country. A 3G network is now available for visitors, so he’s been able to take pictures with his camera phone on the streets of Pyongyang like he could have done in any other part of the world and for the first time he had the chance to upload them on Instagram while still in the country, marking a milestone in the history of photojournalism.
The event is momentous and thanks to David we can now watch for the first time ever some uncensored real life moments directly from North Korea. In the following gallery you will see our favorites among the pictures he took there.

Check them all out here.
Image: Students at a concert (via David Guttenfelder on Instagram).

Uncensored Instagram Photos from North Korea

via Just Something:

David Guttenfelder is the Associated Press Chief Photographer for Asia, almost a legend in photojournalism. He’s been traveling the world for the most part of his life documenting events like the genocide in Rwanda, the Israeli Palestinian conflict, three different Olympic games and many other historical events. He is a seven-time World Press Award winner and has gained various other awards during his brilliant career.

He’s recently been documenting North Korea and since their authorities loosened a bit their restrict policies about photojournalism he’s been one of the first photographers allowed to bring a smartphone inside the country. A 3G network is now available for visitors, so he’s been able to take pictures with his camera phone on the streets of Pyongyang like he could have done in any other part of the world and for the first time he had the chance to upload them on Instagram while still in the country, marking a milestone in the history of photojournalism.

The event is momentous and thanks to David we can now watch for the first time ever some uncensored real life moments directly from North Korea. In the following gallery you will see our favorites among the pictures he took there.

Check them all out here.

Image: Students at a concert (via David Guttenfelder on Instagram).

How We Talk About North Korea
Via Alex Pareene:

[North Korea] is the sort of story that our news media is absolutely awful at covering. Most people on cable news are brainless idiots hired primarily for their ability to talk on camera for long periods of time without saying “uh” that often, and even when they have a simplistic-but-workable grasp of domestic affairs they rarely know shit about the rest of the world. North Korea is a secretive hermit state that even the CIA can’t penetrate, and every report on the capabilities and motivations of the primary actors there will by necessity involve a lot of guesswork…
…This rampant uninformed speculation seems harmless until you recall the sort of effect hysterical uniformed speculation has had on America’s foreign policy in the past. It became clear in the run-up to the Iraq War that the news media was a very useful tool to get the public on board with wars. Through insinuation and misdirection, the false notion that Saddam Hussein was in some way responsible for 9/11 was spread with very few examples of actual lies from the administration — they just made the suggestions and let the idiot-media run with it.

Via Jack Shafer:

Like sportswriters, political reporters, financial news staffers, reporters on the police beat, and other breaking-news artists, foreign correspondents must tell their story with economy and describe what has happened as opposed to why something happened. “Typical Mindbending $#*! By the North Koreans” may accurately describe the latest provocation or retreat by Pyongyang, but it’s not the way breaking news generally gets framed…
…A brief survey of North Korea news clips reveals a spate of clichés… Pyongyang reliably remains defiant; talks have resumed or been proposed, canceled,or stalled, while a U.S. envoy seeks to lure the North back to those talks to restart the dialog; North Korea is bluffing,blustering, or is engaging in brinksmanship; tensions are grim, rising, or growing—but rarely reduced, probably because when tensions go down it doesn’t qualify for coverage; North Korea seeks recognition, respect, or improved or restored relations, or to rejoin the international community, or increased ties to the West that will lead to understanding; deals with North Korea are sought; North Korea feels insulted and is isolated by but threatens the West; the Japanese consider the North Koreans “untrustworthy“; the West seeks positive signs or signals or messages in North Korean conduct but worries about its intentions; diplomats seek to resolve, solve, respond to, overcome, defuse, the brewing, serious, real crisis; the escalating confrontation remains dangerous; the stakes are high, but the standoff endures.
The reliance on stock phrases indicates a lack of imagination on the part of foreign correspondents (and their editors), who if they are serving old wine they should find some new bottles from which to decant it. But it also confirms Shafer’s First Law of Journalistic Thermodynamics, which states, “Copy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only change form.” North Korea coverage reiterates itself in language that is as pale as dead coral because, of course, the North Koreans insist on echoing themselves, even when acquiring new weapons, such as nuclear bombs and missiles. We’re in no position to ask the North Koreans to speak their minds more articulately (or honestly) but we’re within our rights to ask our favorite hacks to dump the hackneyed.

Alex Pareene, Salon, Pretending to Know about North Korea.
Jack Shafer, Reuters, The Enduring Cliche’s of North Korea Coverage.
Image: Korean peninsula at night, 2012, via NASA/Wikimedia Commons.

How We Talk About North Korea

Via Alex Pareene:

[North Korea] is the sort of story that our news media is absolutely awful at covering. Most people on cable news are brainless idiots hired primarily for their ability to talk on camera for long periods of time without saying “uh” that often, and even when they have a simplistic-but-workable grasp of domestic affairs they rarely know shit about the rest of the world. North Korea is a secretive hermit state that even the CIA can’t penetrate, and every report on the capabilities and motivations of the primary actors there will by necessity involve a lot of guesswork…

…This rampant uninformed speculation seems harmless until you recall the sort of effect hysterical uniformed speculation has had on America’s foreign policy in the past. It became clear in the run-up to the Iraq War that the news media was a very useful tool to get the public on board with wars. Through insinuation and misdirection, the false notion that Saddam Hussein was in some way responsible for 9/11 was spread with very few examples of actual lies from the administration — they just made the suggestions and let the idiot-media run with it.

Via Jack Shafer:

Like sportswriters, political reporters, financial news staffers, reporters on the police beat, and other breaking-news artists, foreign correspondents must tell their story with economy and describe what has happened as opposed to why something happened. “Typical Mindbending $#*! By the North Koreans” may accurately describe the latest provocation or retreat by Pyongyang, but it’s not the way breaking news generally gets framed…

…A brief survey of North Korea news clips reveals a spate of clichés… Pyongyang reliably remains defiant; talks have resumed or been proposed, canceled,or stalled, while a U.S. envoy seeks to lure the North back to those talks to restart the dialog; North Korea is bluffing,blustering, or is engaging in brinksmanship; tensions are grim, rising, or growing—but rarely reduced, probably because when tensions go down it doesn’t qualify for coverage; North Korea seeks recognition, respect, or improved or restored relations, or to rejoin the international community, or increased ties to the West that will lead to understanding; deals with North Korea are sought; North Korea feels insulted and is isolated by but threatens the West; the Japanese consider the North Koreans “untrustworthy“; the West seeks positive signs or signals or messages in North Korean conduct but worries about its intentions; diplomats seek to resolve, solve, respond to, overcome, defuse, the brewing, serious, real crisis; the escalating confrontation remains dangerous; the stakes are high, but the standoff endures.

The reliance on stock phrases indicates a lack of imagination on the part of foreign correspondents (and their editors), who if they are serving old wine they should find some new bottles from which to decant it. But it also confirms Shafer’s First Law of Journalistic Thermodynamics, which states, “Copy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only change form.” North Korea coverage reiterates itself in language that is as pale as dead coral because, of course, the North Koreans insist on echoing themselves, even when acquiring new weapons, such as nuclear bombs and missiles. We’re in no position to ask the North Koreans to speak their minds more articulately (or honestly) but we’re within our rights to ask our favorite hacks to dump the hackneyed.

Alex Pareene, Salon, Pretending to Know about North Korea.

Jack Shafer, Reuters, The Enduring Cliche’s of North Korea Coverage.

Image: Korean peninsula at night, 2012, via NASA/Wikimedia Commons.

North Korean Political Rallies are Mesmerizing

Via The Telegraph:

Chanting “Death to the US imperialists” and “Sweep away the US aggressors,” soldiers and students marched through Kim Il Sung Square in central Pyongyang on Friday during a 90-minute rally…

…State media reported early on Friday that leader Kim Jong-un had called an emergency military meeting to order the army’s rocket unit to prepare to strike the US and South Korea in case of a “reckless provocation” by Washington or Seoul.

FJP: The video comes via the Associated Press which opened the first Western bureau in North Korea last January.

Korean Central News Agency Relaunches Web Site
North Korea’s state news agency redesigned its Web site. It’s kept some of the scrolling text that’s long been a trademark, and added animated gifs.
Part of the newly designed home page is dedicated real estate for International Relations. Here are some end-of-year headlines of note:



Floral Basket to Kim Jong Un from Family of Zhang Weihua Pyongyang, December 29 (KCNA) — The dear respected Kim Jong Un Saturday received a floral basket from the family of Zhang Weihua, Chinese anti-Japanese revolutionary martyr, on the occasion of the first anniversary of his assumption of supreme commandership of the Korean People’s Army and the New Year 2013.
Kim Jong Un Sends Floral Basket to Cuban Embassy Pyongyang, December 31 (KCNA) — The dear respected Kim Jong Un sent a floral basket to the Cuban embassy here on the occasion of the 54th anniversary of the victory of the Cuban revolution. The floral basket was conveyed to Cuban Ambassador to the DPRK German Hermin Ferras Alvarez on Monday.
Floral Basket, Congratulatory Letter to Kim Jong Un from Military Attaches Corps Pyongyang, December 31 (KCNA) — The dear respected Kim Jong Un received a floral basket and a congratulatory letter from the military attaches corps here on the occasion of the New Year 2013.



Here’s what the Korean Central News Agency site used to look like, courtesy of the Way Back Machine.
Image: Screenshot, KCNA Home Page. Select to embiggen.

Korean Central News Agency Relaunches Web Site

North Korea’s state news agency redesigned its Web site. It’s kept some of the scrolling text that’s long been a trademark, and added animated gifs.

Part of the newly designed home page is dedicated real estate for International Relations. Here are some end-of-year headlines of note:

Floral Basket to Kim Jong Un from Family of Zhang Weihua
Pyongyang, December 29 (KCNA) — The dear respected Kim Jong Un Saturday received a floral basket from the family of Zhang Weihua, Chinese anti-Japanese revolutionary martyr, on the occasion of the first anniversary of his assumption of supreme commandership of the Korean People’s Army and the New Year 2013.

Kim Jong Un Sends Floral Basket to Cuban Embassy
Pyongyang, December 31 (KCNA) — The dear respected Kim Jong Un sent a floral basket to the Cuban embassy here on the occasion of the 54th anniversary of the victory of the Cuban revolution. The floral basket was conveyed to Cuban Ambassador to the DPRK German Hermin Ferras Alvarez on Monday.

Floral Basket, Congratulatory Letter to Kim Jong Un from Military Attaches Corps
Pyongyang, December 31 (KCNA) — The dear respected Kim Jong Un received a floral basket and a congratulatory letter from the military attaches corps here on the occasion of the New Year 2013.

Here’s what the Korean Central News Agency site used to look like, courtesy of the Way Back Machine.

Image: Screenshot, KCNA Home Page. Select to embiggen.

First I need to completely guard the place where I’m watching the show. I have to block the windows with curtains and closely guard the entrance door. Then I lock the door and listen with an earphone on a low volume so that no one outside can hear what I’m watching. Because there are frequent inspections, I make sure I can move the moment the inspectors come. The whole scene of me watching drama is worthy of a real drama show.

This Freedom House report on North Korean’s secret consumption of foreign media is pretty damn compelling. (via onthemedia)

FJP: Actually it’s not a Freedom House report; it’s by Intermedia’s AudienceScapes project and you can read about it here. It’s a fascinating report complete with anecdotes on how North Koreans consume foreign media—where they get it, how they watch or listen to it, how they share it. And as the report explains, though changes in North Korea’s information environment remain quite small by international standards, they are illustrative of the potential of long-term change. 

Although the regime can and will likely continue to crack down on the influx of outside information, it seems true retrenchment is not possible. South Korean entertainment media will continue to enter through traders moving back and forth across the border, and the U.S. government and others will have the opportunity to provide important information about the outside world not supplied by the market.

Read it here.

Bonus: We’ve tumbled some things about North Korea before. 

Pyongyang, November 29 (KCNA) — Archaeologists of the History Institute of the DPRK Academy of Social Sciences have recently reconfirmed a lair of the unicorn rode by King Tongmyong, founder of the Koguryo Kingdom (B.C. 277-A.D. 668).

The lair is located 200 meters from the Yongmyong Temple in Moran Hill in Pyongyang City. A rectangular rock carved with words “Unicorn Lair” stands in front of the lair. The carved words are believed to date back to the period of Koryo Kingdom (918-1392).

North Korean News Agency, Lair of King Tongmyong’s Unicorn Reconfirmed in DPRK.

FJP: Unicorns!

H/T: Atlantic Wire

The Onion Picks Kim Jong Un as Sexiest Man Alive, China Believes It
From China’s People’s Daily newspaper, largely quoting the Onion announcement, which describes the leader as follows:

With his devastatingly handsome, round face, his boyish charm, and his strong, sturdy frame, this Pyongyang-bred heartthrob is every woman’s dream come true.

Also of note: a commenter at Buzzfeed found the article reposted at The Korean Times. And of one more note: remember, this has happened before.
H/T: Buzzfeed.

The Onion Picks Kim Jong Un as Sexiest Man Alive, China Believes It

From China’s People’s Daily newspaper, largely quoting the Onion announcement, which describes the leader as follows:

With his devastatingly handsome, round face, his boyish charm, and his strong, sturdy frame, this Pyongyang-bred heartthrob is every woman’s dream come true.

Also of note: a commenter at Buzzfeed found the article reposted at The Korean Times. And of one more note: remember, this has happened before.

H/T: Buzzfeed.

North Korea Opens Hotel after Decades of Construction
Authorities very recently opened the Ryugyong, that triangle-shaped hotel that’s long been the tallest building in the Pyongyang skyline. Despite having never hosted a guest, it is older than most j-school students.
From NKNews:

Construction on the Ryugyong began in 1987 and was due to be completed two years later, however delays and mis-management prevented Kim Il Sung’s dream of building the tallest building in the world from being realised. Building work halted in 1992 and for nearly two decades it remained a dormant triangle on Pyongyang’s skyline, treated by many as a symbol of North Korea’s economic failure.


If this looks like the place for you, consider contacting Koryo Tours. They supplied the above pictures and are promising to offer a way to visit once the building is finished.
From their blog:

The view was incredible and breathtaking indeed! The inside of the building still has substantial work to be done but the structure of the lobby and dining area and conference room (all on the ground floor) were visible, sources at the site suggest 2 or 3 more years until projected completion at which time hotel rooms, office space, and long term rentals will be available.

H/T: The Atlantic Wire

North Korea Opens Hotel after Decades of Construction

Authorities very recently opened the Ryugyong, that triangle-shaped hotel that’s long been the tallest building in the Pyongyang skyline. Despite having never hosted a guest, it is older than most j-school students.

From NKNews:

Construction on the Ryugyong began in 1987 and was due to be completed two years later, however delays and mis-management prevented Kim Il Sung’s dream of building the tallest building in the world from being realised. Building work halted in 1992 and for nearly two decades it remained a dormant triangle on Pyongyang’s skyline, treated by many as a symbol of North Korea’s economic failure.

If this looks like the place for you, consider contacting Koryo Tours. They supplied the above pictures and are promising to offer a way to visit once the building is finished.

From their blog:

The view was incredible and breathtaking indeed! The inside of the building still has substantial work to be done but the structure of the lobby and dining area and conference room (all on the ground floor) were visible, sources at the site suggest 2 or 3 more years until projected completion at which time hotel rooms, office space, and long term rentals will be available.

H/T: The Atlantic Wire

North Korea unveils statues of former leaders Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il on Friday. Pedro Ugarte, Agence France-Presse/Getty Images. Via the New York Times.

North Korea unveils statues of former leaders Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il on Friday. Pedro Ugarte, Agence France-Presse/Getty Images. Via the New York Times.

"The press bus took a wrong turn Thursday," or, Western journalism’s first real look at North Korea’s capital
While on a tour of Pyongyang, NK for the centennial of founder Kim Il Sun’s birth, AP journalists were given a rare opportunity to photograph something other than the elaborate, weird showcases they’re normally subjected to. The bus took a wrong turn and, for just a few minutes, took photojournalists somewhere new.
from the AP report:

A cloud of brown dust swirled down deeply potholed streets, past concrete apartment buildings crumbling at the edges. Old people trudged along the sidewalk, some with handmade backpacks crafted from canvas bags. Two men in wheelchairs waited at a bus stop. There were stores with no lights, and side roads so battered they were more dirt than pavement.

But the biggest surprise was that it wasn’t that bad.

It’s not clear why the regime hides places like the dusty, potholed neighborhood, which is just a mile or so from the center of town, across the trolley tracks and just off Tongil Street.
It doesn’t look like a war zone, or even like a particularly rough New York City neighborhood. Many streets in New Delhi, the capital of one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, look far more battered and far poorer.

FJP: What a sort of nice, unexpectedly humane look at the country.
For more pictures, see this Atlantic Wire article.

"The press bus took a wrong turn Thursday," or, Western journalism’s first real look at North Korea’s capital

While on a tour of Pyongyang, NK for the centennial of founder Kim Il Sun’s birth, AP journalists were given a rare opportunity to photograph something other than the elaborate, weird showcases they’re normally subjected to. The bus took a wrong turn and, for just a few minutes, took photojournalists somewhere new.

from the AP report:

A cloud of brown dust swirled down deeply potholed streets, past concrete apartment buildings crumbling at the edges. Old people trudged along the sidewalk, some with handmade backpacks crafted from canvas bags. Two men in wheelchairs waited at a bus stop. There were stores with no lights, and side roads so battered they were more dirt than pavement.

But the biggest surprise was that it wasn’t that bad.

It’s not clear why the regime hides places like the dusty, potholed neighborhood, which is just a mile or so from the center of town, across the trolley tracks and just off Tongil Street.

It doesn’t look like a war zone, or even like a particularly rough New York City neighborhood. Many streets in New Delhi, the capital of one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, look far more battered and far poorer.

FJP: What a sort of nice, unexpectedly humane look at the country.

For more pictures, see this Atlantic Wire article.

Foreign Journalists Photograph North Korea
via The Atlantic:

The government of North Korea recently invited dozens of foreign journalists into its secretive country to cover the 100th birthday celebration for founder Kim Il Sung on April 15. Among pageants and openings, the event drawing the most attention is the scheduled launch of a three-stage Unha-3 rocket carrying a weather satellite. The launch is already drawing criticism from Western governments: If successful, it could demonstrate North Korea’s capacity to produce an intercontinental missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead. Despite their official invitation, foreign photographers are still restricted — escorted wherever they go and unable to photograph more than they can see within selected facilities or from the windows of buses and trains. 

Click-through to view the set.
Photo Caption: 

North Koreans commute to work in Pyongyang on April 8, 2012. North Korea is counting down to the 100th anniversary of its founder’s birth on April 15 with top-level meetings and a controversial rocket launch scheduled in coming days to bolster his grandson’s credentials. (Pedro Ugarte/AFP/Getty Images)

FJP: The photos are fascinating, illuminating, and a bit haunting. 

Foreign Journalists Photograph North Korea

via The Atlantic:

The government of North Korea recently invited dozens of foreign journalists into its secretive country to cover the 100th birthday celebration for founder Kim Il Sung on April 15. Among pageants and openings, the event drawing the most attention is the scheduled launch of a three-stage Unha-3 rocket carrying a weather satellite. The launch is already drawing criticism from Western governments: If successful, it could demonstrate North Korea’s capacity to produce an intercontinental missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead. Despite their official invitation, foreign photographers are still restricted — escorted wherever they go and unable to photograph more than they can see within selected facilities or from the windows of buses and trains. 

Click-through to view the set.

Photo Caption: 

North Koreans commute to work in Pyongyang on April 8, 2012. North Korea is counting down to the 100th anniversary of its founder’s birth on April 15 with top-level meetings and a controversial rocket launch scheduled in coming days to bolster his grandson’s credentials. (Pedro Ugarte/AFP/Getty Images)

FJP: The photos are fascinating, illuminating, and a bit haunting. 

Central Pyongyang At Dusk
The New York Times’ Lens blog profiles David Guttenfelder, an AP photographer who is the only Westerner able to shoot in North Korea on a regular basis.
Guttenfelder’s work is a part of “Window on North Korea,” a photography exhibit taking place in New York City that places images by AP photographers next to those taken by Korea State Media (KCNA) photographers.
Via the New York Times:

[The show] has some of the best of the North Korea images by Mr. Guttenfelder and his A.P. colleagues.
But the photos by the KCNA are most telling. They are highly idealized images: everyone is well fed, and smiling. The workers are heroic and the leaders have a heavenly glow.  There are no traces of the hunger, hardships and repression that exist in North Korea. They may be propaganda but they do provide insight into how the North Korean government officials want — and need — their people to see their country.

A slideshow of images from the exhibit is available at the Lens blog.
Image: Central Pyongyang At Dusk by David Guttenfelder, AP. Via the New York Times.

Central Pyongyang At Dusk

The New York Times’ Lens blog profiles David Guttenfelder, an AP photographer who is the only Westerner able to shoot in North Korea on a regular basis.

Guttenfelder’s work is a part of “Window on North Korea,” a photography exhibit taking place in New York City that places images by AP photographers next to those taken by Korea State Media (KCNA) photographers.

Via the New York Times:

[The show] has some of the best of the North Korea images by Mr. Guttenfelder and his A.P. colleagues.

But the photos by the KCNA are most telling. They are highly idealized images: everyone is well fed, and smiling. The workers are heroic and the leaders have a heavenly glow.  There are no traces of the hunger, hardships and repression that exist in North Korea. They may be propaganda but they do provide insight into how the North Korean government officials want — and need — their people to see their country.

A slideshow of images from the exhibit is available at the Lens blog.

Image: Central Pyongyang At Dusk by David Guttenfelder, AP. Via the New York Times.

Soldiers, Yelling About Things
Pyongyang, North Korea — North Korean soldiers chant denunciations of South Korean President Lee Myung-bak as a morale-building exercise at a military base on their country’s southwest coast, opposite South Korea’s Baengnyeong Island.
Via the LA Times Framework Blog.
Bonus Points: The photo is by Kim Kwang Hyon of the Associated Press which now has the West’s first news bureau in North Korea.

Soldiers, Yelling About Things

Pyongyang, North Korea — North Korean soldiers chant denunciations of South Korean President Lee Myung-bak as a morale-building exercise at a military base on their country’s southwest coast, opposite South Korea’s Baengnyeong Island.

Via the LA Times Framework Blog.

Bonus Points: The photo is by Kim Kwang Hyon of the Associated Press which now has the West’s first news bureau in North Korea.