Thursday, December 9, 2010


We have become accustomed to North Korea watchers reaching conclusions based on cryptic official statements, who is sitting next to whom at the latest government meeting, grainy satellite photos etc.

Here's a new source (at least for me): Middle school bathroom graffiti
The lyrics of a children’s song satirizing Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Eun have been found in a classroom and the restroom at Osandeok Senior Middle School.”

The children’s song is a well-known one in South Korea called “Three Bears.”

The re-written lyrics of the song, NKIS claims, are as follows: “Three bears in a house, pocketing everything; grandpa bear, papa bear and baby bear. Grandpa Bear is fat, Papa Bear is fat, too, and Baby Bear is a doofus.”

Even though when singing the song the Kim family members are not named, a short glance reveals the song’s satirical nature, leading the authorities to reportedly treat it as a reactionary element and investigate its origin.

Make of this what you will.

UPDATE: here is another example of P'yôngyangology but done much more carefully and with a cautious warning in the conclusion:
I suggest we use this example both as an etude in the anecdote-based Pyongyangology, and as a warning of how easy it can be to derive far-reaching conclusions from questionable evidence. Do we need culture-specific expertise? Obviously, we do. Otherwise, we risk basing policy decisions on a hoax.

Kim Jong Un in Europe? Perhaps not.

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