Kim Jong Il, the Dear Leader, is dead.
Twitter, as usual, broke the news. Then, the rest of the web was flooded with memes, news, jokes, serious analysis of the situation and facetious points of view. Videos of a nation mourning in a way that reminded of over-the-top, oversaturated, over exaggerated Godzilla movies (the Dear Leader’s favourite flicks) went viral, as well as the ultimate masterpiece of the Tumblrsphere - Kim Jong Il Looking at Things, a collection of pictures of the Dear Leader, well, looking at things. The Internet as the hyperspatial Maya calendar: Homefront, a video game about North Korea taking over the world, predicted the death of the Dear Leader for January 2012, just two weeks before the real deal.
Serious networks, blogs and newspapers joined the euphoric party, and weird facts about Kim Jong Il began to spread through the pipes of the Internet.
From the CBS News website: ‘Official records reportedly show that Kim learned to walk at the age of three weeks, and was talking at eight weeks. While at Kim Il Sung University, he apparently wrote 1,500 books over a period of three years, along with six full operas. According to his official biography, all of his operas are "better than any in the history of music." Then there's his sporting prowess. In 1994, Pyongyang media reported that the first time Kim picked up a golf club, he shot a 38-under par round on North Korea's only golf course, including 11 holes-in-one. Reports say each of his 17 bodyguards verified the record-breaking feat. He then decided to retire from the sport forever.’ More to come: ‘German media reported in 2007 that Kim hoped to solve the famine in his country by breeding giant rabbits. An east German farmer who bred rabbits the size of dogs was apparently asked by North Korea to help set up a big bunny farm to alleviate food shortages. To get things going, he sent a batch of 12 giant rabbits to North Korea, but was shocked to hear they were eaten at Kim's birthday banquet that year.’
The DPRK and the Internet.
The world now knows everything about Kim Jong Il and giant rabbits, but how did the DPRK use the Internet to communicate to the rest of the world?
The internet was brought to Pyongyang just over a year ago, for North Korea’s state to produce and spread propaganda about economic growth, scientific breakthroughs and the trips of Kim Jong Il across the country. The audience is the rest of the world, as no-one in the country has access to the cybespace.
This is how the KCNA’s website broke the news of the Dear Leader.
A little over an hour after the announcement, KCNA added a photo of Kim Jong Il.
Uriminzokkiri.com, the closest thing North Korea has to an official home page, saw the light last year; the design is pretty minimalistic, and all the content is - surprise surprise! - about the dear leader.
The account @uriminzok was created in August 2010; in just a few days it gathered more than 10,000 followers, but it looks like the number has not grown since then. The Tweets are things like: ‘Dear Sir Career of Kim Jong Il just finish the rest of the day Forget everything solely dedicated to all the people came to the great leadership and Career of Love was a noble cause.’ (Google Translate’s fault, but you get what I mean), which means they obviously don’t read Mashable, therefore they don’t have post-its screaming “CONTENT IS KING” or “ENGAGE OR DIE” all over their office.
Since the beginning, some of the people following the account were South Korean citizens. The government in Seoul quickly reacted, as the Chosun Ilbo, one of the major newspapers in South Korea reported, with a warning: “A tweet from Pyongyang could land you in jail“. ‘The inter-Korea Exchange and Cooperation Act states any persons who take part in any exchange with North Korea can be subject to up to three years in prison or up to 10 million won ($8,520.79) in fines.’
The account follows four people, one of them being a young guy that specifies he is ‘Not related to the other Dushku’, probably an enemy of the regime that has the same family name as the kid.
Uriminzokkiri moved then to Facebook.
In a few words, Uriminzokkiri should have created a page, not a personal account.
The official North Korean's Flickr account is nothing but nice collection of photoshopped photographs of things the Dear Leader liked to look at, staged scenes of joy, happiness, busy workers and old people having a good time. It is an interesting experiment, by the way: one of the most isolated and repressive countries in the world set up a Flickr account for everyone to see and comment, like in the following screenshot, in which a user said: ‘Oh! Blue earthworms are so cool’.
The YouTube channel offers the same menu as the rest of the social media: loads of propaganda, staged situations, and much love to the Dear Leader – one of the videos in English language acclaim Kim Jong-Il for five minutes and 56 seconds, calling him the “general sent by the heaven.”
The channel counts 2765 subscribers, about a tenth of the average spotty teenager that rants about school meals or dances to Katy Perry.
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