Wednesday, 5 November 2014

did this picture get someone killed?

the regime in North Korea is both barmy and savage, as any fule kno. Its ruling dynasty and the elite that surrounds it cannot afford to move on from the worst extremes of the Cold War in which its people are still living, even though they must. The regime's pronouncements read like a bad joke, most of the time, and its leaders, since the nation's founder Kim Il-sung ("Kim: The Early Years"), to his allegedly playboy son Kim Jong Il ("Bad Elvis", as John Sweeney dubbed him) to today's Dear Leader Kim Jong Un ("Fatboy Kim", ibid.) have looked increasingly ludicrous with each generation. One day the regime will come crashing down, and the Kims with it. But until then the people of North Korea live in a tragic parody of a socialist paradise. And yet, look at this picture. It is an official photograph taken of Leader Kim's visit to an orphanage (one with no children in it, but that is the way of things in the Democratic People's Republic). It appears not to have been photoshopped or tampered with. Someone in that place has (or had) a subversive sense of humour. The picture is from KCNA, the Korean Central News Agency, the sole official news agency.
fatboy kim look behind you
I am not one to subscribe to the notion that totalitarian or fascist regimes can be brought down by ridicule - look how effective the satirical cabarets of 1930s Berlin were against Hitler - but there is a place for taking the piss. The worker in the orphanage, the member of Kim's entourage, the humble official, whoever it was who had the notion of placing the two stuffed toys behind Kim in the compromising position they are in has a juvenile sense of humour, but a subversive one. It's good to see that subversiveness is alive and well and living in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, where there's not much to laugh about, most of the time. The joke that is Fatboy Kim's haircut has probably worn a bit thin by now.

Of course, this picture may be fake. I don't think so, but it may be. Of course, if it's real the person responsible for the placing of the animals may have been identified and terminated by now. Commenters on Mashable, which is where I first saw this picture, seem to think so.

For those who care, the stuffed animal in the, er, submissive position in the picture is a Japanese manga character. He is a blue cat with no ears called Doraemon who has come back from the future to help a little boy called Nobita live a better life. I think he is fab and I have got several pieces of Doraemon merchandise at home. And, why, pray tell, can the Glorious People's Republic not create their own stuffed animals, but instead use ones imported (we suppose) from Evil Imperialist Japan?

Leaving quite aside the notion of being pictured smoking a cigarette in an orphanage. Or anywhere, really, these days.

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