Imagine designing a website for your company. The company has been getting terrible press lately, and you wish to refute that negativity while reinforcing the company's mission statements and corporate culture. Now, imagine your company is the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) and your task is to build a website that portrays the country in the best light possible. Doesn't seem too difficult, except that you cannot write anything (factual or otherwise) that does not reinforce the greatness of North Korea. Also, you must constantly reinforce that the country's leader is all-knowing, all-powerful and without fault. Did I mention that the website is not in your native language?
This is a dizzying task, and has been handled with enthusiasm (and possibly fear), by the Foundation of the Korean Friendship Association. The result, in all its glory, can be found here: http://www.korea-dpr.com/
Some background: the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-il, has God-like status and authority- picture a mix of George Steinbrenner, King Henry VIII and Gozer the Gozarian. Kim Jong-il's father, Kim Il-sung, was the first leader of the country and-despite the omnipotent status he maintained- still managed to die in 1994. Since then, North Korea has steadfastly held on to the teachings of Kim Il-Sung (let's call him "PapaLeader") under the rule of his son ("SonLeader").
Within North Korea, the government is able to control dissidence and discord by controlling all sources of media. The internet is banned. Television, radio and newspapers are controlled by the state. Visitors are searched for, among other things, any information about the world outside of North Korea.
The state pushes four main messages to its people:
1. PapaLeader and SonLeader are omnipotent, powerful, benevolent geniuses. Countless inventions, methods and breakthroughs have been credited to the rulers.
2. SonLeader is the only thing standing in the way of annihilation from outside aggressors.
3. Other countries, notably South Korea, the US and Japan, wish to invade North Korea, rape its women and steal its rotary phones.
4. Speaking or acting in a way that is contrary to SonLeader is frowned upon. Quite frowned upon.
Not surprisingly, these themes show up all over the NK website. As it's targeted towards an outside audience, the themes are twisted slightly:
1. PapaLeader and Son Leader are still omnipotent, powerful, and benevolent geniuses.
2. North Korea's military is crazy-good, enormous and will fight to the death and possibly more than that to keep out foreign aggressors, especially the asshole Americans.
3. Other people (who are not North Korean) totally love North Korea and think SonLeader is awesome and cool (and not fat at all).
What you end up with is a myraid of fluff pieces on the perfect leaders and various other propoganda about the greatness of NK and the awfulness of its enemies, all pushing the basic themes:
PapaLeader and SonLeader are omnipotent, powerful benevolent geniuses.
If American politicians are vying to be the "candidate you'd like to have a beer with", then PapaLeader and SonLeader are the rulers who will briefly take time out of their busy days of omnipotence to tolerate the presence of the unwashed masses:
The objective of politics is to bring love for the people into bloom, ardent love and trust in the people make them patriots and the revolution starts, socialist politics is , in essence, benevolent politics-this is Kim Jong Il’s out look on politics. Kim Jong Il’s love for the people reaches evey corner of the country And is permeated in all the wealth and creations. He pays deep attention to every item needed for people’s living ranging from the basic condiment, like salt, to shoes,cosmetics water and heating ,not to mention foods. Wherever you go in Korea ,you can easily find the working places and families which Kim Jong Il visited.
Yes. Wherever you go in North Korea you can find these people Kim Jong Il has visited. On an unrelated note, you cannot go anywhere in North Korea.
North Korea's army is crazy-good, enormous and will fight to the death (if not more than that).... and America sucks.
As it is targeted towards western readers, the military angle projects a jittery confidence in NK's military:
The defense industry of the DPRK has been enhanced to such a standard that it can manufacture military hardware powerful enough to frustrate any moves of aggression of the imperialists boasting of their military technology and to shatter their strongholds. The country has also prepared its nuclear deterrent against the imperialist nuclear threat.
Under the leadership of Chairman Kim Jong Il the DPRK will add more brilliance to its dignity as an invincible military power no enemy, however, formidable, dare challenge.
Anyone want to take a guess as to who these "imperialists" are? Here's a hint from the site's "news" feed:
Sixty years have passed since the most furious war after World War II, the Korean War (1950-1953), ended. During the three years, the US, which unleashed the war in an ambition to dominate the Korean Peninsula and the Asian continent, committed outrages unprecedented in the history...“Regard Koreans as animals. Kill them without mercy thinking as if you are killing animals.” This was an order of [US General] MacArthur at the beginning of the war.
MacArthur went on to say, "America has jealousy towards Korea and are stupid".
The websites extols NK's many military victories, among them a certain triumph over Japan which occurred in August of 1945:
Korea's liberation was due to the 20 year long armed struggle led by the great leader President Kim Il Sung,a gifted military strategist and ever victorious iron willed brilliant commander.His protean guerrilla tactics smashed Japanese imperialism.The anti Japanese armed struggle was a model for anti colonial anti imperialist struggles.
Hmm... what else happened in Japan in August 1945?
Other people (who are not North Korean) totally love North Korea and think that SonLeader is cool and smart (and not fat at all)
The authors of this site want readers to know that their country is loved and admired by people around the world (emphasis mine):
April 15th known as ’Day of the Sun’ to the Korean people mass celebrations will Take place in Pyongyang and other cities in the DPRK.These will be colourful and vibrant. Throughout the world from Lima to Tokyo meetings, seminar and events will take place.
Why is Kim Il Sung known as the sun of Korea because is is deeply respected and seen as the guiding light and inspiration.Comrade Kim Il Sung is deeply revered not only by the Korean people but the world people.You can see this clearly by visiting the International Friendship Exhibition in the scenic Myohang mountains in the north west of Korea.Here exhibited are some 36,000 gifts sent to the great Leader comrade Kim Il Sung by different people throughout the world,everyone from humble workers To state and party leaders has gifts exhibited there.You will see the train sent by Chairman Mao Zedong of Peoples China and the bullet proof car sent by Stalin as well gifts from the likes of Fidel Castro, Daniel Ortega, Col Qaddafi , Yasser Arafat and many others.Various international revolutionary leaders have praised the great leader comrade Kim Il Sung...
Celebrations from Lima to Tokyo? From Peru to Japan? Half this website is dedicated to bashing Japan's policies and rehashing the 20 year war with Japan. And what do you you have to do to get a gift from Qaddafi? And what did he send? A box full of radio static? A canteen filled with fingernails?
That's just a taste of what's up there. I implore you to go on and poke around yourself.