My voyage on the shortwaves, mentioned a couple of posts ago, long ago took me to the peculiar country of North Korea — or more formally the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. DPRK is sort of a bizarre anachronism, a microcosm of old school Stalinism living into the present day. So its shortwave station, Voice of Korea (formerly and more famously known as Radio Pyongyang) is equally bizarre and anachronistic. The programs, when you can pick up the station, are usually a hodgepodge of rants and bombast touting the glories of North Korea and condemning the evil West and their “puppet” government in South Korea. This is old-school Radio Moscow or Radio Peking shit! And neither of those stations have existed in either name or spirit in about 20 years. But Voice of Korea is holding it down and keeping it real with their special brand of insular, isolated, the-rest-of-the-world-don’t-exist programming.
The programming is just a reflection of the country as a whole. North Korea is built upon an extreme, even by Stalinist standards, form of cult of personality. The personalities are supplied by the family Kim, first Founding Father Kim Il-Sung (aka Great Leader) and after he died his son, Kim Jong-Il (aka Dear Leader). Dear Leader’s son, Kim Jong-Un, has been tapped to be the next Leader, though I think his title is still influx. In any case, a great deal of the programs from Voice of Korea, and Radio Pyongyang before it, focus on the activities of the countries leader, visiting places, meeting troops, etc. Now, in the age of the internet, photos of such events are easier to come by. And some clever soul has made them into a website perfect for those of us obsessed with this odd place. Enter Kim Jong-Il Looking at Things. Now we can see photos of Dear Leader doing what he does best, visiting places in his country and looking at things. It’s bloody brilliant. I think nothing better encapsulates this country’s peculiarities than this very simple site.
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