CLOSE
Original image

7 Things I learned reading North Korea's newspaper

Original image

The Japanese are reporting that Kim il Jong has been dead since 2003. The UN thinks North Korea is slipping into a "serious food shortage"¦that is causing millions of people to go hungry." But what does North Korea think? I spent a week (July 21-Aug. 1) monitoring the Korean Central News Agency, which offers readers the world from the vantage point of the North Korean government. Here's what I learned:

1. Kim Jong Il is loved around the world (and has the gift baskets to prove it)

Picture 18.pngThe KCNA is quick to point out the many bouquets and floral baskets Dear Leader receives.  "General Secretary Kim Jong Il was presented with a floral basket and a congratulatory letter by the military attaches corps here on the occasion of the 55th anniversary of the victory in the Fatherland Liberation War," KCNA reported. "They were handed to an official concerned by Miguel Angel Gala Valiente, military attache of the Cuban embassy here."
On July 31, "General Secretary Kim Jong Il was presented with a floral basket by the delegation of Japan-Korea Friendship Linking with Juche on a visit to the DPRK."

Also, "A bouquet from the Russian Embassy was laid at the Monument to Victory in the Fatherland Liberation War" on July 25. KCNA did not report what other bouquets arrived for Kim Jong Il in the week. The paper is limited by space to choose the highlights.

2. Korea is under attack from Japan

Since the end of World War II, Japan has followed a pacifist constitution. They've also had a steadily shrinking population of young people who are largely engrossed in video games and manga. But according to the North Korean media, that's just what Japan wants the world to believe.

In reality, KCNA reveals, "Japan is making desperate efforts to seize other countries' territories with an aim to reinvade not only Korea but other countries around it"¦Â  It is the unchanged wild ambition of the Japanese militarists to reinvade Asia and dominate the world."

Picture 20.pngKCNA finds the "pretext for reinvading Asia" in a planned change in Japanese textbooks: Since 1954, the South Korean coast guard has occupied two rocky islets about 200-square meters in area. Referred to as Dokdo by South Korea and Takeshima by Japan, its sovereignty is currently in dispute. Asiaenews has reported, recently that, "the Japanese government decided to include its sovereignty claim over Dokdo"¦in the curriculum handbook to be used at junior high schools beginning 2012."

Of course, this hasn't gone unnoticed by the KCNA. "This clearly proves that the moves of Japan to grab Tok Islet [Dokdo], part of inviolable territory of Korea, have reached the phase of its implementation," KCNA reported, quoting "a public statement" made by "a spokesman for the History Society of the DPRK."

3. North Korea cares deeply about South Korea

KCNA is unstinting in its coverage of South Korea and its President Lee Myung-bak. From the people to their labor unions, to their political parties, the KCNA refers to South Koreans as "the Lee Myung-bak group," or occasionally, "the group of traitors."

The paper doesn't exactly maintain an objective voice. When President Lee lifted a ban on American beef, an unpopular move that led to massive demonstrations and candle-lit vigils in Seoul, KCNA offered this analysis:

"The deplorable situation created by the opening of south Korean market to American beef is a product of the U.S. arrogant and high-handed acts to force unconditional servility and submission upon the south Koreans and, at the same time, a natural outcome of the Lee group's treacherous policy." KCNA continued, "This time the U.S. forced south Korea to open its markets to American beef by using its colonial stooges who have neither elementary national conscience nor an iota of self-esteem. It is as clear as noonday that it will bring bigger misfortune and sufferings to them in the days ahead."

4. The U.S. regularly forgets our anniversary

Did you make special plans on July 27? North Korea did. It was, after all, the 55th anniversary of the Armistice Agreement that ended the Korean War. But if history gives North Korea lemons, it makes lemonade.

"The 55th anniversary of the victory in the great Fatherland Liberation War was significantly celebrated across the country," KCNA wrote. "Amid the playing of songs such as "˜Our General Is Best' and "˜General Employs the Art of Compressing Space' the participants in the parties enthusiastically danced with the feelings of gratitude to General Secretary Kim Jong Il, the peerlessly illustrious commander who has wisely led the anti-imperialist, anti-U.S. confrontation struggle with the great Songun politics."

"When the war broke out, the world community worried whether the nearly two-year-old DPRK would withstand the aggression of the U.S. imperialists who had been proud of "˜having won' more than 110 wars. But it witnessed marvels from the first days of the war," KCNA's coverage continued. "The KPA made a brilliant achievement of liberating Seoul, the bulwark of the enemy, within three days following the start of the war. [Kim Jong Il's] strategies and tactics were all unique, that could not be conceived with existing military knowledge and formula.

5. North Korea has Impeccable Manners

Picture 21.pngYou might get the wrong impression about North Korea if I don't point out that most of the news the week I monitored KCNA consisted of greetings that Kim Yong Nam sent to various people around the world: "to the president of Benin on the occasion of the 48th anniversary of the independence of his country"; "to the President of the Swiss Confederation, on the occasion of its national day"; "to the President of the Republic of Peru, on Monday on the occasion of the independence day," among others.


Meanwhile, "the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea sent a message of greetings to the National Executive Committee of the People's Democratic Party of Nigeria on the occasion of its 10th founding anniversary."Â  And "Kim Yong Il, premier of the Cabinet of the DPRK, on July 24 sent a congratulatory message to Tillman Thomas upon his assumption of office as Prime Minister of Grenada."

6. North Koreans enjoyed the lazy days of summer

No less committed to penetrating local coverage than in its unrelenting bashing of South Korea, Japan and the United States, KCNA revealed that "folk sports and amusement games" were held at the Taesongsan Pleasure Ground on July 30 "on the occasion of the 62nd anniversary of promulgation of the Law on Sex Equality."

The following day, the world learned, via KCNA, that "the Okryu Restaurant on the bank of River Taedong flowing through Pyongyang has been updated to suit the modern aesthetic sense while preserving its original looks."

And on a lighter note, KCNA reported that "water sporting activities are brisk in the DPRK in the July-August months for water sports. The sea bathing resorts, swimming pools and wading places across the country including the recently facelifted Majon Recreation Ground and newly built Sariwon Open-air Swimming Pool are crowded with working people and school youth and children these days."

7. They've kept a dying language alive

With one of the estimated 7,000 world languages disappearing every two weeks, you have to be impressed by a people that manages to keep one of them, not only alive, but flourishing. I don't mean the Korean language. I mean the particular dialect introduced by V.I. Lenin and which is now used only by North Korea's leaders and a handful of others around the world:

"Shortly ago, the puppet minister of Defence of south Korea at a session of the "˜National Assembly' openly let loose malignant and reckless remarks labeling the DPRK "˜biggest principal enemy'"¦

"The puppet defence minister's recent balderdash cannot be construed otherwise than an undisguised treachery of going against the desire of the nation for reconciliation, unity and reunification and the trend of the times as it revealed once again the true colors of the Lee Myung Bak group"¦"

It's wild stuff. But after a week of monitoring the Korean Central News Agency, I realized this is far tamer than most of what I find on the internet.

David Holzel doesn't speak Korean, but he does know a smattering of Marxist-Leninist. You can read more of his writing here.

Original image
IFC Films
arrow
entertainment
10 Surprising Facts About The Babadook
Original image
IFC Films

In 2014, The Babadook came out of nowhere and scared audiences across the globe. Written and directed by Aussie Jennifer Kent, and based on her short film Monster, The Babadook is about a widow named Amelia (played by Kent’s drama schoolmate Essie Davis) who has trouble controlling her young son Samuel (Noah Wiseman), who thinks there’s a monster living in their house. Amelia reads Samuel a pop-up book, Mister Babadook, and Samuel manifests the creature into a real-life monster. The Babadook may be the villain, but the film explores the pitfalls of parenting and grief in an emotional way. 

“I never approached this as a straight horror film,” Kent told Complex. “I always was drawn to the idea of grief, and the suppression of that grief, and the question of, how would that affect a person? ... But at the core of it, it’s about the mother and child, and their relationship.”

Shot on a $2 million budget, the film grossed more than $10.3 million worldwide and gained an even wider audience via streaming networks. Instead of creating Babadook out of CGI, a team generated the images in-camera, inspired by the silent films of Georges Méliès and Lon Chaney. Here are 10 things you might not have known about The Babadook (dook, dook).

1. THE NAME “BABADOOK” WAS EASY FOR A CHILD TO INVENT.

Jennifer Kent told Complex that some people thought the creature’s name sounded “silly,” which she agreed with. “I wanted it to be like something a child could make up, like ‘jabberwocky’ or some other nonsensical name,” she explained. “I wanted to create a new myth that was just solely of this film and didn’t exist anywhere else.”

2. JENNIFER KENT WAS WORRIED PEOPLE WOULD JUDGE THE MOTHER.

Amelia isn’t the best mother in the world—but that’s the point. “I’m not a parent,” Kent told Rolling Stone, “but I’m surrounded by friends and family who are, and I see it from the outside … how parenting seems hard and never-ending.” She thought Amelia would receive “a lot of flak” for her flawed parenting, but the opposite happened. “I think it’s given a lot of women a sense of reassurance to see a real human being up there,” Kent said. “We don’t get to see characters like her that often.”

3. KENT AND ESSIE DAVIS TONED DOWN THE CONTENT FOR THE KID.

Noah Wiseman was six years old when he played Samuel. Kent and Davis made sure he wasn’t present for the more horrific scenes, like when Amelia tells Samuel she wishes he was the one who died, not her husband. “During the reverse shots, where Amelia was abusing Sam verbally, we had Essie yell at an adult stand-in on his knees,” Kent told Film Journal. “I didn’t want to destroy a childhood to make this film—that wouldn’t be fair.”

Kent explained a “kiddie version” of the plot to Wiseman. “I said, ‘Basically, Sam is trying to save his mother and it’s a film about the power of love.’”

4. THE FILM IS ALSO ABOUT “FACING OUR SHADOW SIDE.”

IFC Films

Kent told Film Journal that “The Babadook is a film about a woman waking up from a long, metaphorical sleep and finding that she has the power to protect herself and her son.” She noted that everybody has darkness to face. “Beyond genre and beyond being scary, that’s the most important thing in the film—facing our shadow side.”

5. THE FILM SCARED THE HELL OUT OF THE DIRECTOR OF THE EXORCIST.

In an interview with Uproxx, William Friedkin—director of The Exorcist—said The Babadook was one of the best and scariest horror films he’d ever seen. He especially liked the emotional aspect of the film. “It’s not only the simplicity of the filmmaking and the excellence of the acting not only by the two leads, but it’s the way the film works slowly but inevitably on your emotions,” he said.

6. AN ART DEPARTMENT ASSISTANT SCORED THE ROLE AS THE BABADOOK.

Tim Purcell worked in the film’s art department but then got talked into playing the titular character after he acted as the creature for some camera tests. “They realized they could save some money, and have me just be the Babadook, and hence I became the Babadook,” Purcell told New York Magazine. “In terms of direction, it was ‘be still a lot,’” he said.

7. THE MOVIE BOMBED IN ITS NATIVE AUSTRALIA.

Even though Kent shot the film in Adelaide, Australians didn’t flock to the theaters; it grossed just $258,000 in its native country. “Australians have this [built-in] aversion to seeing Australian films,” Kent told The Cut. “They hardly ever get excited about their own stuff. We only tend to love things once everyone else confirms they’re good … Australian creatives have always had to go overseas to get recognition. I hope one day we can make a film or work of art and Australians can think it’s good regardless of what the rest of the world thinks.”

8. YOU CAN OWN A MISTER BABADOOK BOOK (BUT IT WILL COST YOU). 

IFC Films

In 2015, Insight Editions published 6200 pop-up books of Mister Babadook. Kent worked with the film’s illustrator, Alexander Juhasz, who created the book for the movie. He and paper engineer Simon Arizpe brought the pages to life for the published version. All copies sold out but you can find some Kent-signed ones on eBay, going for as much as $500.

9. THE BABADOOK IS A GAY ICON.

It started at the end of 2016, when a Tumblr user started a jokey thread about how he thought the Babadook was gay. “It started picking up steam within a few weeks,” Ian, the Tumblr user, told New York Magazine, “because individuals who I presume are heterosexual kind of freaked out over the assertion that a horror movie villain would identify as queer—which I think was the actual humor of the post, as opposed to just the outright statement that the Babadook is gay.” In June, the Babadook became a symbol for Gay Pride month. Images of the character appeared everywhere at this year's Gay Pride Parade in Los Angeles.

10. DON'T HOLD YOUR BREATH FOR A SEQUEL.

Kent, who owns the rights to The Babadook, told IGN that, despite the original film's popularity, she's not planning on making any sequels. “The reason for that is I will never allow any sequel to be made, because it’s not that kind of film,” she said. “I don’t care how much I’m offered, it’s just not going to happen.”

Original image
Bruce Weaver / Stringer / Getty Images
arrow
Space
NASA Is Posting Hundreds of Retro Flight Research Videos on YouTube
Original image
Bruce Weaver / Stringer / Getty Images

If you’re interested in taking a tour through NASA history, head over to the YouTube page of the Armstrong Flight Research Center, located at Edwards Air Force Base, in southern California. According to Motherboard, the agency is in the middle of posting hundreds of rare aircraft videos dating back to the 1940s.

In an effort to open more of its archives to the public, NASA plans to upload 500 historic films to YouTube over the next few months. More than 300 videos have been published so far, and they range from footage of a D-558 Skystreak jet being assembled in 1947 to a clip of the first test flight of an inflatable-winged plane in 2001. Other highlights include the Space Shuttle Endeavour's final flight over Los Angeles and a controlled crash of a Boeing 720 jet.

The research footage was available to the public prior to the mass upload, but viewers had to go through the Dryden Aircraft Movie Collection on the research center’s website to see them. The current catalogue on YouTube is much easier to browse through, with clear playlist categories like supersonic aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles. You can get a taste of what to expect from the page in the sample videos below.

[h/t Motherboard]

SECTIONS

More from mental floss studios