Video of a 7-day vacation in North Korea

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Jacob Laukaitis made this wonderful video that shows what it's like to be a tourist in North Korea.

In the past 3 years I traveled to over 50 different countries, but visiting North Korea has always been a dream of mine. So I recently went on a 7 day tour across the country and just published a mini documentary from the trip.

I wanted to make a video that would show people what their daily lives would look like if they went there as tourists. There are quite a few interesting facts and details that I haven't seen in other videos and I'm pretty sure a lot of people will find it interesting.

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North Korea recommends Americans elect "wise politician" Donald Trump

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North Korea is on Team Trump, reports Reuters, describing the millionaire mogul as a "wise" choice and his rival as "thick-headed Hillary."

Run by a brutal and notoriously reclusive authoritarian clique, North Korea is under U.N. sanctions and regularly threatens the U.S. and the south with nuclear annihilation. Trump has indicated he will take a softer line with the regime.

"It turns out that Trump is not the rough-talking, screwy, ignorant candidate they say he is, but is actually a wise politician and a prescient presidential candidate," said the [DPRK Today] column, written by a China-based Korean scholar identified as Han Yong Muk.

DPRK Today is among a handful of news sites run by the isolated North, although its content is not always handled by the main state-run media.

It said promising to resolve issues on the Korean peninsula through "negotiations and not war" was the best option for America, which it said is "living every minute and second on pins and needles in fear of a nuclear strike" by North Korea.

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North Korea praises Donald Trump

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An official media organ of the North Korean regime has endorsed Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, describing Democrat rival Hillary Clinton as "dull."

An editorial in DPRK Today, an official media outlet, welcomed the Republican presidential candidate’s proposal to hold direct talks with Kim Jong-un, saying he could help bring about Pyongyang’s “Yankee go home” policy.

“There are many positive aspects to Trump’s ‘inflammatory policies’,” wrote Han Yong-mook, who described himself as a Chinese North Korean scholar.

“Trump said he will not get involved in the war between the South and the North, isn’t this fortunate from North Korea’ perspective?”

Analysts said that although the editorial was not officially from Pyongyang, it was sure to reflect thinking inside the regime.

And, yes, I checked to make sure it wasn't a quip from @DPRK_News, the popular Twitter parody account with a gift for emulating the floridly vicious wooden-talk of North Korean propaganda. Read the rest

Meet the sons of an American defector to North Korea

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Ted and James Dresnok were born in Pyongyang, North Korea. Their father is James Joseph Dresnok, who defected there in 1962 when he was an American GI stationed in South Korea.

From The Washington Post:

And they’ve just appeared in an extraordinary video published online by Minjok Tongshin, a pro-Pyongyang news service based in the United States that runs the kind of stories that wouldn’t look out of place in North Korea’s official media.

“I want to advise the U.S. to drop its hostile policy against North Korea. They’ve done enough wrong and now it’s time for them to wake up from their delusions,” said Ted Dresnok, 36, who goes by the Korean name Hong Sun Chol. He was wearing a navy blue suit with a red Kim badge on it.

His younger brother, James, or Hong Chol, was wearing a North Korean army uniform and said he held a rank equivalent to a captain in the U.S. Army. His comments also sounded like they came out of the propaganda department.

“The American Imperialists caused the division of the Korean peninsula,” James said.

The Washington Post has a translation of the interview. Here's a snip:

Ted: My precious dream is to become a Workers’ Party member and pay back my gratitude to my general [Kim Jong Un]. I want to stand in a unified country by my general.

James: My lifelong dream is similar to my brother’s. I want to serve my mother country with my life and bring about the unification of the Koreas so the world will see the superiority of Kim’s Korea.

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British Royals' celebrations with narration from North Korean patriotic parade

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This is a genius piece of media criticism: mapping the BBC's own slavishly patriotic broadcast of the British royals' 2015 "celebrations" onto its breathless voice-over for a North Korean patriotic demonstration in celebration of a Kim birthday. (via Kottke) Read the rest

Rare photos of the subway system in North Korea's capital, Pyongyang

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Elliott was among the first outsiders to be given access to Pyongyang's metro. Previously, only two stations could be visited. He posted a nice big gallery of photos and his reflections on a strange (and beautiful) place.

This may sound mundane, but the previously restricted Pyongyang Metro is surely one of the most mysterious, yet beautiful transit systems on earth, each station uniquely themed in ultra-nationalism, parading North Korea’s revolutionary goals and achievements to impressionable commuters. In many ways, it’s a small museum, most of which formerly hidden from outside eyes and subsequently shrouded in conspiracy theories. Sensationalism aside, here’s my journey in over sixty photos of the beating heart of Pyongyang, the Pyongyang Metro.

There are chandeliers everywhere. Even the trains are museum-pieces - and perfectly looked-after. Previously: Sycophantic Reactionary Foreign Trains Condemned Read the rest

North Korea channels the voice of Abraham Lincoln in “Hey, Obama” letter to U.S.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un looks over the border with South Korea,  March 7, 2013.

“Hey, Obama,” a weird letter from North Korea to the President of the United States opens, according to a translation offered by the Associated Press. “I know you have a lot on your mind these days … I’ve decided to give you a little advice.”

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North Korea plans to conduct nuclear warhead test “very soon”

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un talks with officials at the ballistic rocket launch drill of the Strategic Force of the Korean People's Army (KPA) at an unknown location, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Central News Agency (KCNA) on March 11, 2016.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un says his nation will soon conduct a nuclear warhead test by launching ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads as a test, the official KCNA news agency reported on Tuesday.

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South Korea having a female leader has made North Korea even crazier

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Even within the batty realms of North Korea's propaganda, the invective thrown at South Korean President Park Geun-hye is remarkable.

In perhaps its lengthiest and harshest verbal attack on Park since she took office in 2013, the North's official Korean Central News Agency on Saturday called her a "tailless, old, insane bitch," a "senile old woman" and a "murderous demon" destined to meet "a sudden and violent death."… North Korea previously called Park a "prostitute" and said she lives on the "groin of her American boss." It has frequently questioned her womanhood because she has no children, which the North labels as an "obligation" for women. North Korea also frequently refers to the "swish of her skirts," a Korean phrase used to describe women seen as overly aggressive.

"The swishes of Park Geun-hye's skirt, created by her American boss, are so unpredictable they're dumbfounding," an unnamed spokesman of the North's Joint National Organization of Working People said in a statement last year published by the KCNA. "This is all because the United States' black, hairy hands reach deep into Park Geun-hye's skirt."

Apart from the absurd sexism, there's a more politically unnerving aspect to it. For all its apparent insanity, North Korea's propaganda traditionally tried to appeal to South Korean leftists. This messaging indicates a new level of ignorance of the world outside, a turning-inwards of its paranoia. Read the rest

Here are all of North Korea's new official slogans

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No less than 375 new slogans have been approved for use by authorities in North Korea, the backward hermit kingdom often-lampooned for its use of old-timey Communist-style wooden-language. Read the rest

North Korea blasts loudspeakers at South Korea because South is blasting North with same

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un looks over the border with South Korea,  March 7, 2013.

If the history of North/South Korean loudspeaker aggression is any indication, we're looking at a high risk of bullets flying over the border soon. First comes the noise, then comes the artillery fire.

North Korea is doubling down on its loudspeaker psy-ops along the inter-Korean border in retaliation for South Korea's amplified K-pop music and shade-throwing at Kim Jung Un.

Reuters:

South Korea's loudspeaker broadcasts aimed at North Korea push the rivals to the "brink of war," a top North Korean official has told a propaganda rally, in the isolated country's first official response to the sonic barrage across its border.

North Korea's fourth nuclear test on Wednesday angered both the United States and China, which was not given prior notice, although the U.S. government and weapons experts doubt the North's claim that the device it set off was a hydrogen bomb.

In retaliation for the test, South Korea on Friday unleashed a ear-splitting propaganda barrage. The last time South Korea deployed the loudspeakers, in August 2015, it triggered an exchange of artillery fire.

"Jealous of the successful test of our first H-bomb, the U.S. and its followers are driving the situation to the brink of war, by saying they have resumed psychological broadcasts and brought in strategic bombers," said North Korea's Kim Ki Nam, who is head of the ruling Workers' Party propaganda department.

State media on Friday published this sick burn of an official insult along with photos of a rally on Friday which suggested that thousands of people gathered in central Pyongyang, holding signs honoring leader Kim Jong Un. Read the rest

South Korea blasts K-pop at North to piss off Kim Jong Un

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un looks over the border with South Korea,  March 7, 2013.

The government of South Korea is playing loudly amplified anti-North Korea propaganda along the North Korean border today. The sonic assault combines K-Pop music with throwing shade at the North’s nuclear program and its leader Kim Jong Un. North Korea considers the broadcasts to be an act of war.

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North Korea's paranoid GNU/Linux watermarks every file

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Florian Grunow and Niklaus Schiess downloaded the sourcecode for Red Star OS, North Korea's homegrown, paranoid fork of Red Hat's Fedora, a flavor of GNU/Linux. The researchers analyzed the OS and presented their findings to the thirty second Chaos Communications Congress in Hamburg yesterday. Read the rest

North Korean defector to Finland claims evidence of illegal human experiments

The researcher, "Lee," worked in Ganggye, Chagang, and escaped with what he says is 15GB of data detailing illegal human subjects biochemical research, which he is due to present to the European Parliament this month. (Thanks, Sulka!) Read the rest

These Women Have Crossed the Line: 30 activists cross North Korea DMZ for peace

Members of the WomenCrossDMZ group attend a news conference before they leave for North Korea's capital Pyongyang, at a hotel in Beijing, China, May 19, 2015. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
In an historic move, a group of global feminist activists march into the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea to create a space for a new type of conversation about truly ending the Korean war.

Sony sends pre-emptive threat letter to journalists

A lawyer retained by Sony has sent threat-letters to media outlets hinting at repercussions if they report on material in the huge dump of internal Sony docs from the North Korea hack that Wikileaks put online. Read the rest

North Korean defectors undermine totalitarianism with smuggled pirate sitcoms

In an amazing, long, in-depth investigative piece, Wired's Andy Greenberg recounts the story of North Korean dissidents who have escaped, but who mastermind ambitious smuggling efforts that send thousands of USB sticks and SD cards over the border stuffed with pirate media: Read the rest

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