Previous “North Korea” posts

Inside North Korea 

Photographer Fabian Muir has visited North Korea five separate times, and he’s brought back photos that are much more revealing than usual.

Artist Statement

This is a selection of the many images I collected over my two years in the DPRK. Working within the constraints placed upon visitors there, the series seeks to offer a fair, honest and intimate portrayal of the country and its people.

See Muir’s site for much more.

One Score and Eight Websites 

I initially missed this while traveling, but given my love for the bizarre world that is North Korea, it’s well worth posting now. It appears that thanks to a server configuration error, we now know that North Korea has just 28 websites.

Knockoff North Koreans 

Speaking of bizarre stories out of China, the country is apparently now producing knockoff North Koreans. These fake defectors are then able to gain asylum, and benefits, in Europe.

Real Or Fake? (October 7th, 2015 Edition)

It’s been over three years since our last edition of “Real or Fake?”, but we’re finally back! Remember, this is the game where you try to determine if a news item is, well, real or fake.

Read the headline, then make your guess. When you click “Answer”, the truth shall be revealed.

Is it Real or Fake?

1. U.S. Senate Candidate Admits to Sacrificing Goat, Drinking Its Blood (Answer)

2. California To Allow Prisoners To Serve Sentences Online (Answer)

3. North Korea Envoy Tells UN Rights Forum “Mind Your Own Business” (Answer)

4. Radioactive Boars On The Loose In Germany (Answer)

5. CNN Anchor Interviews Al Jazeera Anchor Who Interviewed Libyan Rebels (Answer)

That’s it for today, but if you’ve got your own submission, send it over for the next edition!

The Wink Makes It 

Something is amiss in a recent image out of North Korea, and it’s more than just the fact that Kim Jong-un is smoking in a nursery. In the background over his shoulder, a bit more is going on.

Animals in Action
This is too perfect, right?

It’s hard to believe this is real, and yet one simply must hold out hope that it is.

And North Korea Knows From Human Rights Abuses 

In keeping with embargoes setup by the West, Switzerland has refused to sell ski lifts to North Korea. North Korea, ever playing the role of tantrum-throwing five year old, has decried this as a “serious human rights abuse”.

A Solid for Rodman 

American citizen Kenneth Bae was recently sentenced to fifteen years of hard labor in North Korea, for “crimes aimed to topple the DPRK”. The nature of those crimes is not known, but it’s likely that Bae is being used to get America’s attention. Now, the big guns have been called in:

I'm calling on the Supreme Leader of North Korea or as I call him 'Kim', to do me a solid and cut Kenneth Bae loose.

Yes, in a story which clearly should have been in The Onion, Dennis Rodman has entered the fray. Hopefully he’ll be as successful as Bill Clinton.

Simpsons Did It 

If you can make it up, sooner or later, North Korea is going to do it. This time around, they’ve given some of their country’s highest honors to an inanimate object. 1

In Rod We Trust
Previously, on “The Simpsons”


  1. Because this site seems likely to disappear, or at least not have useful archives, here’s a screen grab of the full article. ↩︎

Problem: Crying Lacked Sincerity 

If you were curious why North Koreans were wailing and gnashing their teeth during the funeral for deceased dictator Kim Jong-Il, here’s your answer.

The Entire Planet’s Wacky Neighbor, North Korea 

North Korea is one of the poorest countries in the entire world. It’s also one of the most fiercely nationalistic. This leads to all manner of insanity, and the Internet is rife with examples of North Korea’s anti-American propaganda, as well as tales of the behavior of its leader Kim Jong Il.


However, it’s rare to get much in-depth information about the country. This extensive interview with B.R. Myers, author of The Cleanest Race: How North Koreans See Themselves and Why It Matters, is very illuminating. A random interesting snippet:

I read a women’s magazine recently which warned housewives against what they called “the housewife disease,” and if you read the description of the housewife disease, it’s quite obvious that they’re talking about an STD…they give the disease that name to make it sound more harmless, but when you look at the symptoms which are described in the article, it’s very clear what kind of diseases they’re referring to.

Now there’s a classy term, “housewife disease”.

The truly great nuggets are things where the North Korean propaganda machine really works, with everything from Potemkin villages to vigilantly watching how former Kim Il Sung was photographed.

Whenever you have a state that professes belief in the purity of the race, you have a state that has a very hard time acknowledging the existence of people who are physically challenged or perhaps mentally handicapped. The North Koreans don’t know even how to explain things like that…This is why the North Korean regime had such a hard time with Kim Il Sung’s tumor. For most of his adult life, Kim Il Sung had quite a sizable tumor on the back of his neck, and the North Korean propaganda apparatus had to photograph him from one angle so that this tumor would never be known to the North Korean population.

It’s both funny and fascinating to imagine this sort of manipulation. Read the whole interview for much more.

Update: Several readers have pointed out the parallels to American president Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who was crippled at a young age. While similar, it seems FDR’s condition was far better known. He himself worked to minimize it, and the media treated it as a private matter (now there’s a concept), but it was not entirely hidden from view.