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Oops….Sorry About that Austin, Texas

31 Mar

Oops….Sorry About that Austin, Texas: An Otherwise Excellent Example of Great Journalism was Also a Tad Off

The Korean Central News Agency Friday sent out one of the thousands of meticulously staged propaganda photographs they do each year, this one with a caption which included the description of an “urgent operation meeting on the Korean People’s Army Strategic Rocket Force’s performance of duty for firepower strike at the Supreme Command in Pyongyang.”

The picture showed Kim Jong Un sitting at a table with military commanders standing behind him. In the upper left, on the wall, was world map obscured in the background with some barely visible Korean language characters and several arrows pointing to different parts of an unmarked global map.

NKNews reporter James Pearson, with the eagle-eyed attention for out of the box details and curiosity which makes for a great reporter, didn’t focus on the staged people in the photo but on the aspects not designed by the propagandists who produced it to draw attention. One was the map in the top left hand portion of the photo. He translated the writing on the map which turned out to read “U.S. Mainland Strike Plan”.

NKNews.org annotated photo titled "U.S. Mainland Strike Plan." Original photo by KCNA. Translations and analysis by James Pearson NKNews.org

NKNews.org annotated photo titled “U.S. Mainland Strike Plan.” Original photo by KCNA. Translations and analysis by James Pearson NKNews.org

While this photo was released on the English language service of KCNA, whose target audience is enemy foreigners, it originally had appeared in the main North Korean Worker’s party organ, Rodong Sinbun, which targets North Korean citizens, and which often includes entirely different messages that the ruling party wants to send to its own population. What propaganda that appears in the North Korean language domestic press is very different than the propaganda meant for foreign consumption. Niether the map nor caption was either translated or highlighted in the KCNA English language broadcast photo.
Pearson said: “Shortly after breakfast, I called my NK NEWS colleague in D.C. to tell him I’d spotted a KCNA picture that showed Kim Jong Un and his generals studying a not-so-subtle map with the title ‘US MAINLAND ATTACK PLAN’ crudely printed on it. It could’ve been satire but, knowing how most (if not all) NK propaganda is very much intended for an internal audience, it made sense given reports on the ground in North Korea that the state was trying to create a ‘war-like’ atmosphere domestically.”

Pearson, who is in Seoul, also noted three blurry arrows pointing to spots on an unmarked outline of a world map. He, in coordination with NKNews journalists in Washington, superimposed a Google map of the U.S. on the KCNA unmarked map and located where exactly the arrows were pointing to. One pointed at Hawaii; one at San Diego, California; one at Washington, D.C.; and one at Austin, Texas.

Original March 29 KCNA official photo where Kim Jong-un signed off on the order at a midnight meeting of top generals to put its rocket units on standby to attack U.S. military bases and "judged the time has come to settle accounts with the U.S. imperialists in view of the prevailing situation", the official KCNA news agency said. Note map has no markings or translations

Original March 29 KCNA official photo where Kim Jong-un signed off on the order at a midnight meeting of top generals to put its rocket units on standby to attack U.S. military bases and “judged the time has come to settle accounts with the U.S. imperialists in view of the prevailing situation”, the official KCNA news agency said. Note map has no markings or translations

Austin Texas? The home of Willie Nelson, hipsters, the South by Southwest music and cultural festival, and great barbecue?

Yep, that Austin. Continue reading

For Pyongyang, Global Digital Revolution for Foreign Eyes Only:You Tube Bans North Korean Video

21 Feb

For Pyongyang, Global Digital Revolution for Foreign Eyes Only: You Tube Bans North Korean Video for Stealing Copyrighted U.S. Video Game Soundtrack: Pyongyang Dips its Toes Awkwardly Into the Global Information Age by Sending Propaganda Out and Forbidding Information In.

The North Korean Video Removed by You Tube for Copyright Violations

The North Korean Video Removed by You Tube for Copyright Violations

YouTube has removed another North Korean government video from the state run Uriminzokkiri You Tube site for copyright infringement, according to the excellent North Korean Tech website run by Martyn Williams. This propaganda video used the soundtrack from the video game “The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion” after a copyright complaint from ZeniMax Media, a Maryland-based computer game publisher.

North Korea, which maintains a remarkably large international patenting program having registered worldwide claims to tens of thousands of alleged inventions from machine tools to science research, regularly rips off music, movie clips, foreign news footage, cartoon characters, and protected technology from Androids to counterfeit brand name cigarettes.

The You Tube removal of the video game soundtrack comes on the heels earlier this month of another You Tube removal of another North Korean propaganda video using a computer-generated animation clip from Activision’s “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” following a complaint by Activision. North Korea released that video also on its official YouTube page showing New York being destroyed by a military attack after a cartoon space ship circles earth and zooms in on New York City being attacked. The caption in Korean read: “Somewhere in the United States, black clouds of smoke are billowing. It seems that the nest of wickedness is ablaze.”

Animation Clip from Activision’s “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” Illegally Used by Pyongyang on a Video Depicting a North Korean Spaceship Blowing Up New York Shortly Before They Detonated a Nuclear Bomb

Animation Clip from Activision’s “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” Illegally Used by Pyongyang on a Video Depicting a North Korean Spaceship Blowing Up New York Shortly Before They Detonated a Nuclear Bomb

The Uriminzokkiri social media site is based in China and designed for foreign consumption, and no North Koreans are allowed possession of technology to access even its governments own social media propaganda under penalty of being sent to harsh prison camps.

Increased publicity about Pyongyang’s increasing use of social media, including Twitter, Face Book, and You Tube has brought greater scrutiny and an increase of complaints of unauthorized use of copyrighted material could result in YouTube cancelling Pyongyang’s  Uriminzokkiri  account for repeatedly violating You Tube’s copyright policy agreement which all subscribers must agree to adhere to when opening an account.

North Korea announced they had opened a Gmail account last month on the eve of the visit of Google chairman Eric Schmidt, but the account was never activated as the DPRK@gmail.com name failed to meet Google’s requirement of a 7 character minimum for email addresses. As no North Korean’s are allowed access to email it is unlikely that Pyongyang seriously considered the aborted venture into the digital age a major setback.

In December, 2012, the same week Google Chairman Eric Schmidt announces he would visit North Korea is the state news agency KCNA revamped its website to include greater use of video, and photographs and a flashier less utilitarian style, but the update remains far from cutting edge.

kcna.kp was created in October 2010 as Pyongyang first dipped its toes in the waters of the digital age and updated in April 2011. Before that, the official North Korean government website was registered in an obscure one room apartment in a building in Tokyo, the daily news made available days later arriving clumsily by obscured delivery to a website hosted by sympathetic ethnic Koreans in Japan who followed strict instructions from Pyongyang.  That website, kcna.co.jp, still delivers Pyongyang produced propaganda in a carefully edited, less comprehensive version of the .kp domain, according to the excellent website NK News operated by European Korea watchers.

The newly revamped KCNA website focuses on the big stories according to the worldview of Pyongyang, and is broken down into categories which include world news, mostly dedicated to obscure people, publications, and rarely heard of organizations paying homage to the Kim family, studying Juche ideology, detailing the activities breathlessly of the current Kim, or republishing the works of the Kim Grandfather, son, and current leader, his grandson. A prominent feature id dedicated to the indefatigable, brilliant, and universally revered Kim Jong-un, which replaced a similar category that highlighted his father until his death in December 2011.

Stories from African, South American, South Asian, Russian and Chinese alleged Juche devotees are ubiquitous, leaving a reader with the impression that there is a mass global following that views the Kim dynasty as the most advanced nation on earth. The most common theme is worldwide praises and gifts sent to Pyongyang supporting missile and nuclear advances.

KCNA has a newly revamped website which has a visitor registration that asks for numerous personal details but offers no additional access(Photo via NK NEWS)

KCNA has a newly revamped website which has a visitor registration that asks for numerous personal details but offers no additional access(Photo via NK NEWS)

A new section visitors to the revamped KCNA website encounter encourages user registration, asking for those who visit the site to give their name, birthday, sex, telephone, email, address, and nationality as requirements of registration process, but registering offers no additional to other content of the website, but would allow Pyongyang to determine the IP address of visitors.

Prior to 2010, the KCNA Japan based site was purely text, as it remains today, but the addition of the KCNA.kp domain included pictures and video for the first time, but is carefully created to prohibit linking to news articles, photos or videos on the site, as remains true with the newly unveiled revamping in December 2012, making it impossible for readers to share articles.

NK NEWS asked its own website to analyze the new KCNA website and quoted them as saying “the site still loads content in the top middle container upon clicking side news links. However, these clicks call an Ajax script with parameters to load the appropriate content, and then it seems they set JavaScript variables and utilize cookies to validate the request.”

Prior to 2010, Pyongyang had virtually no online footprint. Indeed, even cell phones were banned until 2008 in the country after a brief nascent program that peaked at about 20,000 mobile phones was abruptly extinguished in May 2004 after an explosion on a train was determined to have been triggered by a cell phone used as a detonator by still unidentified perpetrators hours after then leader Kim Jong Il passed through the area on his return from China in his private train.

Despite North Korea’s increased web presence, there remains virtually no access to North Koreans themselves, the target audience being foreigners who are deemed useful for state propaganda.

Out of 7,000 Internet Readers of This Blog Today, Exactly Zero Came From North Korea and Precisely One From China

21 Jan

Out of 7,000 Internet Readers  of This Blog Today, Exactly Zero Came From North Korea and Precisely One From China

A Brief Data Report Addressing the Thousands of Speculative News Stories in Recent Days on the March Towards an IT Revolution by Pyongyang and a Commitment to a Free Press In Beijing

By Nate Thayer

In case anyone was confused about censorship of, or access, the internet In North Korea, I received 7,113 page views on this blog so far today from 91 countries. More than 75% of those visitors came to read stories I had posted on North Korea.

There were precisely zero people who visited from North Korea.

And perhaps more interestingly, there was exactly 1 visitor from China. Unless one includes “Taiwan, Province of China”, which had 12 visitors, or Hong Kong, which had 44, or Macao which had 3.

South Korea, or better known as the Republic of Korea, had 141 visitors.

There were more readers from the “Palestinian Territory, Occupied” with 2, Guernsey (1), Senegal (2) Liberia (2), Guam (2), Iraq (6), Republic of Moldova (3), Afghanistan (9), and Slovenia (21) than there were from China, a country with one quarter of the world population which shares a land border with North Korea, and poses major strategic, security, economic, foreign policy, and political policy issues for Beijing and the citizenry of the People’s Republic.

Either the Chinese people have particularly shrewd and discriminating literary tastes, or their leaders are fucking around with internet access from the rest of the world on issues that, anywhere else, would be a given as a matter of public interest

Here is a breakdown of the countries from whence visitors to this blog came from today:

Country                Views

United States    3,965

Germany             830

United Kingdom 394

India      338

France  316

Canada 287

Australia 194

Singapore 165

Republic of Korea 141

Japan    110

Switzerland 103

Thailand 77

Austria  66

Cambodia 55

Finland 53

Belgium 51

Netherlands 47

Norway                45

Hong Kong 44

Indonesia 34

Romania 34

New Zealand 27

Philippines 25

Greece 22

Slovenia 21

Mexico                 20

Portugal 19

Turkey 18

Brazil     18

Ireland 18

Czech Republic  18

Sweden               17

Denmark 16

United Arab Emirates     15

Italy  15

Sri Lanka 15

Spain  14

Malaysia 14

Taiwan, Province of China 12

Poland 12

Afghanistan 9

Chile 8

Russian Federation 7

Viet Nam 7

Qatar 7

Bangladesh 7

Israel 7

Zimbabwe 6

South Africa 6

Bosnia and Herzegovina 6

Iraq 6

Saudi Arabia 6

Egypt 5

Estonia                 5

Costa Rica 5

Kuwait 5

Mongolia 4

Albania                 4

Luxembourg 4

Macao 3

Jordan 3

Republic of Moldova 3

Panama 3

Pakistan 3

Palestinian Territory, Occupied  2

Hungary 2

Slovakia 2

Nepal 2

Senegal 2

Myanmar 2

Liberia 2

Guam 2

Tunisia 2

Bulgaria 2

Ukraine 2

Venezuela 2

Georgia 2

Colombia 2

Bahrain 2

United Republic of Tanzania 1

China 1

Lao People’s Democratic Republic 1

Bermuda 1

Latvia 1

Jamaica                1

Kyrgyzstan 1

Argentina 1

Morocco 1

Montenegro 1

Kenya 1

Guernsey 1

 

 

 

 

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