A photoblog with pictures I've taken of graffiti and street art in Moscow (and anywhere else I happen to travel).

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Political graffiti in North Korea?

While I hesitate to stray from this blog's stated topical focus (Moscow graf and street art) and genre (photoblog), this article is interesting and tangentially relevant:

"A little light shines on North Korea's blackout"
By James Brooke, The New York Times, March 16, 2005 [from the Int'l Herald Tribune]

SEOUL - Halfway through a video from North Korea, the camera pans to a propaganda portrait of Kim Jong Il, North Korea's leader, magnificent in his general's dress uniform with gold epaulets. Scribbled in black ink across his smooth face is a demand for "freedom and democracy."

If genuine, the graffiti speaks of political opponents willing to risk execution to get their message out. If staged, the video means that a North Korean hustler was willing to deface a picture of the "Dear Leader" to earn a quick profit by selling it to a South Korean human rights group.

Either way, the 35-minute video is the latest evidence that new ways of thinking are stealing into North Korea, perhaps corroding the steely controls on ideology and information that have kept the Kim family in power for almost 60 years. [...]

Kim ordered the formation of a special prosecutor's office last November to arrest people who deal in South Korean goods, largely videotapes, or who use South Korean expressions or slang, analysts in South Korea say. To crack down on home viewing of imported videotapes, the North Korean police developed the strategy of encircling a neighborhood in the evening, cutting off electricity, then inspecting players to find videotapes stuck inside, according to Young Howard, international coordinator of the Network for North Korean Democracy and Human Rights, a Seoul-based group.

OK, so the last para is not even tangentially relevant to what's usually covered here, but you have to admit it is interesting in a scary way.

2 Comments:

Anonymous naz said...

Jeez, it does sound scary, until you realise that here in the UK the TV Licensing authority sends people around in vans to see who is watching the telly without having paid their licence fees. Perhaps only I see the connection 'cause i haven't paid. I object to the fee on moral and conscientious grounds, and because I'm a cheapskate ;)

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