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“‘Our leader’s haircut is very particular, if you will,’ one source tells Radio Free Asia. ‘It doesn’t always go with everyone since everyone has different face and head shapes.’ Meanwhile, a North Korean now living in China says the look is actually unpopular at home because people think it resembles Chinese smugglers. ‘Until the mid-2000s, we called it the “Chinese smuggler haircut”,’ the Korea Times reports.”

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New photo from the ISS showing the stark difference between North and South Korea.Via http://www.northkoreatech.org/2014/02/25/a-new-look-at-north-korea/

New photo from the ISS showing the stark difference between North and South Korea.

Via http://www.northkoreatech.org/2014/02/25/a-new-look-at-north-korea/

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The two Koreas on Wednesday agreed to hold reunions of families displaced by the 1950-53 Korean War from Feb. 20-25 at Mount Geumgangsan, the Unification Ministry said.

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koreastandardtime:

PBS’ Frontline has debuted a new one-hour special on North Korea that’s definitely worth your while. Click here to stream it in its entirety.

We’ve all seen international news reports that boast of providing a “rare look" at North Korea. But Frontline delves far deeper than most by airing unauthorized footage that was spirited out of the country by Asia Press, a photo-video journalism collective based in Tokyo.

As a result, we wind up seeing things that the Pyongyang regime clearly wouldn’t want us to see. Hungry, soot-covered orphans begging for money. Ajummas selling vegetables at illegal private markets. Teenage girls furtively watching foreign videos on a portable DVD player beneath portraits of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il. Even soldiers complaining about having to install railroad tracks from Kim Jong-un’s hometown to Pyongyang.

Perhaps most startling are the periodic scenes of defiance against petty officialdom. In one clip (at 45:10), a woman running a private transportation service from the back of a truck is picking up passengers. A young army officer tries to stop her. She starts screaming at him and all but tells him to fuck off. 

Frontline supplements its report with commentary by an impressive line-up of North Korea specialists, including Victor Cha of Georgetown University, Andrei Lankov of Kookmin University, David Kang of the University of Southern California, Jiro Ishimaru of Asia Press and Sokeel Park of Liberty in North Korea.

Watched this last night and it was AMAZING. Must-watch.

Photoset

Photos from our DMZ Tour with the USO.

The tour was great, if exhausting. We started at noon and got back to Seoul around 7 p.m., and even though you’re not walking all that much throughout the day I could not keep my eyes open on the bus ride home.

The tour had all kinds of stuff that I hadn’t seen on my first tour. We got to climb down through a secret infiltration tunnel that North Korea dug in the 1970s. We visited Dorasan Station, the last station in South Korea that was built with the hope that sometime in the future people will be able to travel past the border. And, of course, we visited Panmunjeom, the area with the blue buildings up above where you can actually see North Korea and take a few steps across the border while inside one of the buildings.

This tour was another highlight of my mom’s trip to Korea, I highly recommend that you do a DMZ tour (whether with the USO or another guide company) if you get the chance.

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koreastandardtime:

To commemorate World Press Freedom Day on May 3, Paris-based Reporters Without Borders came up with an eye-catching series of posters featuring the heads of state of various countries notorious for media repression. They include North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Of the lot of ‘em, North Korea ranked the lowest — 178th out of 179 countries — in Reporters Without Borders’ 2013 World Press Freedom Index.

koreastandardtime:

To commemorate World Press Freedom Day on May 3, Paris-based Reporters Without Borders came up with an eye-catching series of posters featuring the heads of state of various countries notorious for media repression. They include North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Of the lot of ‘em, North Korea ranked the lowest — 178th out of 179 countries — in Reporters Without Borders’ 2013 World Press Freedom Index.

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"In 2008, Professon Eun Ki-soo of Seoul National University found that, while 79 percent (of South Koreans) would support North Korea in a sports match, only 12.3 percent of South Koreans thought unification was ‘necessary,’ down from 58 percent in 1995. A full 45 percent said it was ‘unnecessary.’"

"Korea: The Impossible Country" by Daniel Tudor.

This was before the attacks on the Cheonan and Yeonpyeong - would be curious to see if these numbers have changed even further in the past few years.

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futurejournalismproject:

How We Talk About North Korea
Via Alex Pareene:

[North Korea] is the sort of story that our news media is absolutely awful at covering. Most people on cable news are brainless idiots hired primarily for their ability to talk on camera for long periods of time without saying “uh” that often, and even when they have a simplistic-but-workable grasp of domestic affairs they rarely know shit about the rest of the world. North Korea is a secretive hermit state that even the CIA can’t penetrate, and every report on the capabilities and motivations of the primary actors there will by necessity involve a lot of guesswork…
…This rampant uninformed speculation seems harmless until you recall the sort of effect hysterical uniformed speculation has had on America’s foreign policy in the past. It became clear in the run-up to the Iraq War that the news media was a very useful tool to get the public on board with wars. Through insinuation and misdirection, the false notion that Saddam Hussein was in some way responsible for 9/11 was spread with very few examples of actual lies from the administration — they just made the suggestions and let the idiot-media run with it.

Via Jack Shafer:

Like sportswriters, political reporters, financial news staffers, reporters on the police beat, and other breaking-news artists, foreign correspondents must tell their story with economy and describe what has happened as opposed to why something happened. “Typical Mindbending $#*! By the North Koreans” may accurately describe the latest provocation or retreat by Pyongyang, but it’s not the way breaking news generally gets framed…
…A brief survey of North Korea news clips reveals a spate of clichés… Pyongyang reliably remains defiant; talks have resumed or been proposed, canceled,or stalled, while a U.S. envoy seeks to lure the North back to those talks to restart the dialog; North Korea is bluffing,blustering, or is engaging in brinksmanship; tensions are grim, rising, or growing—but rarely reduced, probably because when tensions go down it doesn’t qualify for coverage; North Korea seeks recognition, respect, or improved or restored relations, or to rejoin the international community, or increased ties to the West that will lead to understanding; deals with North Korea are sought; North Korea feels insulted and is isolated by but threatens the West; the Japanese consider the North Koreans “untrustworthy“; the West seeks positive signs or signals or messages in North Korean conduct but worries about its intentions; diplomats seek to resolve, solve, respond to, overcome, defuse, the brewing, serious, real crisis; the escalating confrontation remains dangerous; the stakes are high, but the standoff endures.
The reliance on stock phrases indicates a lack of imagination on the part of foreign correspondents (and their editors), who if they are serving old wine they should find some new bottles from which to decant it. But it also confirms Shafer’s First Law of Journalistic Thermodynamics, which states, “Copy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only change form.” North Korea coverage reiterates itself in language that is as pale as dead coral because, of course, the North Koreans insist on echoing themselves, even when acquiring new weapons, such as nuclear bombs and missiles. We’re in no position to ask the North Koreans to speak their minds more articulately (or honestly) but we’re within our rights to ask our favorite hacks to dump the hackneyed.

Alex Pareene, Salon, Pretending to Know about North Korea.
Jack Shafer, Reuters, The Enduring Cliche’s of North Korea Coverage.
Image: Korean peninsula at night, 2012, via NASA/Wikimedia Commons.

futurejournalismproject:

How We Talk About North Korea

Via Alex Pareene:

[North Korea] is the sort of story that our news media is absolutely awful at covering. Most people on cable news are brainless idiots hired primarily for their ability to talk on camera for long periods of time without saying “uh” that often, and even when they have a simplistic-but-workable grasp of domestic affairs they rarely know shit about the rest of the world. North Korea is a secretive hermit state that even the CIA can’t penetrate, and every report on the capabilities and motivations of the primary actors there will by necessity involve a lot of guesswork…

…This rampant uninformed speculation seems harmless until you recall the sort of effect hysterical uniformed speculation has had on America’s foreign policy in the past. It became clear in the run-up to the Iraq War that the news media was a very useful tool to get the public on board with wars. Through insinuation and misdirection, the false notion that Saddam Hussein was in some way responsible for 9/11 was spread with very few examples of actual lies from the administration — they just made the suggestions and let the idiot-media run with it.

Via Jack Shafer:

Like sportswriters, political reporters, financial news staffers, reporters on the police beat, and other breaking-news artists, foreign correspondents must tell their story with economy and describe what has happened as opposed to why something happened. “Typical Mindbending $#*! By the North Koreans” may accurately describe the latest provocation or retreat by Pyongyang, but it’s not the way breaking news generally gets framed…

…A brief survey of North Korea news clips reveals a spate of clichés… Pyongyang reliably remains defiant; talks have resumed or been proposed, canceled,or stalled, while a U.S. envoy seeks to lure the North back to those talks to restart the dialog; North Korea is bluffing,blustering, or is engaging in brinksmanship; tensions are grim, rising, or growing—but rarely reduced, probably because when tensions go down it doesn’t qualify for coverage; North Korea seeks recognition, respect, or improved or restored relations, or to rejoin the international community, or increased ties to the West that will lead to understanding; deals with North Korea are sought; North Korea feels insulted and is isolated by but threatens the West; the Japanese consider the North Koreans “untrustworthy“; the West seeks positive signs or signals or messages in North Korean conduct but worries about its intentions; diplomats seek to resolve, solve, respond to, overcome, defuse, the brewing, serious, real crisis; the escalating confrontation remains dangerous; the stakes are high, but the standoff endures.

The reliance on stock phrases indicates a lack of imagination on the part of foreign correspondents (and their editors), who if they are serving old wine they should find some new bottles from which to decant it. But it also confirms Shafer’s First Law of Journalistic Thermodynamics, which states, “Copy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only change form.” North Korea coverage reiterates itself in language that is as pale as dead coral because, of course, the North Koreans insist on echoing themselves, even when acquiring new weapons, such as nuclear bombs and missiles. We’re in no position to ask the North Koreans to speak their minds more articulately (or honestly) but we’re within our rights to ask our favorite hacks to dump the hackneyed.

Alex Pareene, Salon, Pretending to Know about North Korea.

Jack Shafer, Reuters, The Enduring Cliche’s of North Korea Coverage.

Image: Korean peninsula at night, 2012, via NASA/Wikimedia Commons.

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Tensions sure are high…

During a class this morning there was a loud boom outside (probably from one of the many construction projects near our school).

Some of the girls jumped, asking what the sound was.

The boys in the back, biting back smiles, immediately yelled, “Missile! Missile noise! North Korea is coming!”

And the entirety of the class burst into laughter at the absurdity of that statement.