Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Friends of Kim


Photo courtesy of "Waasa" via DPRK Studies

The Ricky Gervais look-alike is Alejandro Cao de Benos de Les y Pérez a self-styled "soldier of Kim Jong-il" who leads an "army of intellectuals" called the Korean Friendship Association - a group of people so blinkered and enamoured of Kim Jong-il's miserable imitation of Disneyland that they almost make Truthers look sane. Well, almost.

Here's another one of the dashing aristocrat wearing the Medal of Extraordinary Equality or something...


The KFA's role is to take Westerners, whether they be True Believers in the Cult of Kim or simply the curious to Pyongyang to engage in pro-DPRK propaganda. On one of those trips an excellent documentary was made by two film-makers a couple of years ago called Friends of Kim which is well worth watching, if you like that sort of thing.



The documentary is in eight parts and begins with a number of Useless Idiots waffling on excitedly about how they are going to discover the answer to their middle-class boredom and the horrid capitalist system that so many people are just asking questions about these days. Such questions meet radical answers here as the chubby Alejandro marches the simpering Europeans past slender if not emaciated "cheering crowds" on a "march" through Kaesong, on the Korean border.

Part 5 is especially worth watching for when "simple soldier" Alejandro starts blaring across the border, "Yankee Go Home!" and attempts to get a rousing chorus from his suitably embarrassed comrades.

There is some extremely unpleasant lies by one of the KFA's senior members who insists there is no food crisis in the DPRK. His claim is contradicted by a member of the World Food Programme who says that the DPRK have to come begging to them every year for food aid and still only get a fraction of what they need.

This seems to be somewhat confirmed by what I myself witnessed when I went to the DPRK two years ago with Koryo Tours.

Given that the DPRK is reputed to put its healthiest troops on the border, one would have thought they could find some slightly less hungry-looking soldiers as these.


But Alejandro's obnoxiousness doesn't end with his badgering tone, "We are fed up with the lies, huh? Huh?" He resorts to breaking in to the room of American journalist, Andrew Morse, stealing his videotapes and breaking his computer. Later he unabashedly explains that he did it for security reasons and plays the victim card by saying his relationship with the North Korean government was threatened by Morse's journalism.

Edit: One of the participants on the tour runs an excellent blog called nkeconwatch.

Edit: I'd forgotten about this classic music video.

3 comments:

Marylander said...

Ah the Useful Idiot. Every society produces them. It seems richer more open societies produce more of them.
I've read from more than a few sources that North Koreans are on average up to a foot shorter than the South Koreans, who are presumably nearly genetically identical. No food shortage indeed!
I don't think that there is anywhere on Earth that shows such a stark contrast between two genetically and culturally (near) identical peoples who have simply lived under different forms of government for only two generations.
South Korea is a world leading industrial nation that is starting to compete seriously with the likes of Japan and Germany in a variety of markets. They've transitioned from authoritarian military rulers to a free multi-party democracy as their economy has grown and their middle class with it (a pattern seen elsewhere in the world). They're a member of the G20. One of their own chairs the UN. I could go on!
North Korea on the other hand has a police state that creeps out even the Chinese. I remember hearing NPR interviewing (through a translator) a Chinese border guard and he mentioned something about hearing awful stories of brutal torture carried out by the North Koreans. Something about chaining people together by their clavicles. I mean really! It must take a lot to scare a Chinese soldier!

angrysoba said...

I remember hearing NPR interviewing (through a translator) a Chinese border guard and he mentioned something about hearing awful stories of brutal torture carried out by the North Koreans. Something about chaining people together by their clavicles.

I had heard somewhere before about prisoners in really grotesque coffles. Do you have a link for that?

The Adventurer said...

any link of that NPR story ?