[KS] KCTV's hour-long paean to Kim Jong-un yesterday can now be seen in full by all

Ruediger Frank ruediger.frank at univie.ac.at
Tue Jan 10 03:07:16 EST 2012

I agree; if there is no image, there is no news, be it starving children in Africa or in North Korea - no difference. What really surprises me is how persistent NK is in local news outlets here in Austria (and I suspect elsewhere, too), and I am not talking just about the "quality" media, but also the free papers with lots of sports, gossip and half-nude girls that you get on a subway. Clearly, neither the authors nor the readers have much of an idea about what is really going on in NK, but they are attracted by the visiual images (funny hairstyles, 1980s glasses, chubby faces, obscure cults, goose-stepping soldiers, exstatic mourners etc.) that are attractive because they are different and thus provide a welcome distraction in our globalized and harmonized stream of stimuli. Zoo animal is a pretty good description, in many regards.

on Montag, 9. Januar 2012 at 23:24 you wrote:

> An afterthought relating to the article by Rüdiger Frank (thanks for the link):

> The intro basically describes what we so nicely 
> put as "unsere Befindlichkeit" in German 
> language, our current constitution, mentally, 
> economically, politically, health-wise, and the 
> current state of all our senses. What is true for 
> the perception of news from North Korea is true 
> for everything else--isn't it?

> Paraphernalia:
> My real point is this: as we have all noticed 
> "North Korea" has been converted to some sort of 
> -- how to put it best? -- well, some sort of 
> Manga theme. The visual representation of North 
> Korea and the reception of visual representations 
> received from North Korea has completely changed 
> in the past few years! Just look at the many 
> exhibitions of North Korean art and other images 
> everywhere. North Korea is now as much part of 
> "communist chic" as is Che Guevara ... while Che 
> Guevara is long dead, North Korea has become a 
> living zoo animal. The interest in North Korea, 
> as Professor Robinson expressed and also Rüdiger 
> Frank, is an interest in the countries icons, and 
> how those can entertain us in rather cheapish 
> ways. It is a truly voyeuristic situation that we 
> have there, no more, no less.
> What I now wonder is, if that does not also apply 
> to North Korea itself, to the situation in North 
> Korea? North Koreans are to a very amazing degree 
> reduplicating their propaganda art works, 
> posters, etc. ... they market all this as good as 
> they can, even advertise museum shows overseas 
> (that is, offer for example ANYONE to become an 
> official représentant of NK interests to e.g 
> organize museum shows). Those dry TV 
> documentaries maybe one thing, but posters and 
> other colorful propaganda items ... it seems to 
> me that the 'revolution' that we see happening 
> (maybe) in North Korea could be one caused by 
> their sell-off, making themselves into some sort 
> of living cult paraphernalia that make them look 
> like former Soviet officers selling their own war 
> decorations and uniforms at flee markets. Aren't 
> we all in a way selling all our 20th century 
> belongings at flee markets now? VISUAL CULTURE, 
> and the changes in the role of visuality could in 
> this way be decisive in the change -- influencing 
> not just Western or other Asian audiences, but 
> changing the players' minds on stage.

> Frank

>>Don and Aidan:

>>I just watched the balance of the video, and 
>>must say that however much we try to cast the 
>>North Koreans as real people, the DPRK state 
>> propaganda machine is always producing  such 
>>material that works more to undermine a serious 
>>discussion of the state, society, and 
>>leadership.   Such is the power of the visual, 
>>most people don¹t see it necessary to go beyond 
>>the quick laugh.  I thought Ruediger Frank¹s 
>>recent essay in Japan Focus was a good 
>>corrective on the video.

>>Or perhaps this has already been mentioned:


>>Happy New Year All,

>>Mike Robinson

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