Wednesday, June 24, 2009

North Korea provides internet comic fuel

David Fox

Despite the seriousness with which the world takes North Korea’s missile and nuclear tests, the isolated country remains a rich source of humour for cartoonists, satirists and comedians around the world.

The diminutive, bouffant-haired leader, Kim Jong-il, has already been the star of a satirical full length cartoon, plaintively singing “I’m so ronery” in Team America, while plotting to blow up the world.

These days, it seems, every time North Korea rattles its sabres, the noise can be heard via the Internet.

Kim and North Korea are most frequently a subject of discussion on the various late night TV chat shows so popular in the United States.

“According to Kim Jong-Il’s biography, they say he has been constantly accused of dishonesty, drunkenness and sexual excess. So if he lived here, he could be in Congress,” Jay Leno said on his show.

“North Korea conducted a nuclear test and the blast was so small that many scientists are saying it was a dud. Apparently, the nuclear bomb didn’t work well because it was made in Korea,” jibed Conan O’Brien.

And with news wires buzzing that Kim, who succeeded his father, Kim Il-sung, may in turn be succeeded by a favourite son, David Letterman said: “”North Korean dictator Kim Jung Il may be stepping down. Experts in the State Department say he could be replaced by his son, Menta Li Ill.”

But it isn’t just professional comedians having fun at the expense of North Korean and its dear leader, the Internet is full of keen amateurs doing the same.

Facebook, for example, has over 350 profiles and groups dedicated to Kim, listing his hobbies (films, nuclear experiments, torture), friends (Saddam Hussein, Robert Mugabe, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad).

One group is set up to list achievements genuinely reported by the Korean Central News Agency, which frequently ascribes miraculous events to Kim, such as causing flowers to spontaneously bloom or even influencing the weather.

A not entirely more ridiculous Facebook group does the opposite, listing what he should be credited with: “There is no such thing as evolution, just a list of animals Kim Jong Il allowed to live”; “Kim Jong Il has two speeds: Walk and Kill”; “Kim Jong Il can slam a revolving door.”.

But perhaps the most popular resources of North Korean humour and satire on the Internet remains NK news, which has as a mission statement: This site aims its satirical lens solely at the regime of Kim Jong Il, and certainly not at the long-suffering people of North Korea, Korean culture, or Korea in general, North or South.

Its random insult generator draws on years of bellicose statements from the north. None of them are made up, apparently. The latest offering: “You sycophantic aggressor, your accusation against the DPRK is no more than barking at the moon!”

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