TIME North Korea

Someone Has Hacked Into Kim Jong Un’s Hair

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KCNA/AFP/Getty Images North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un attends a meeting of the political bureau of the central committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) in Pyongyang, Feb. 18, 2015.

The evolution of the the North Korean leader's hairstyle continues

The Supreme Leader of North Korea appears to be changing things up stylewise, even as his government comes under renewed fire for human rights abuses.

At a politburo meeting on Wednesday, Kim Jong Un displayed a new haircut that appears to be the latest in his evolving style. The upward trapezoid-shaped hair is even more pronounced than previous hairdos, and his eyebrows aren’t getting any larger.

READ MORE Watch North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un Take the Controls of an Airplane

North Korea observer Frank Feinstein called out the makeover on Twitter.

TIME North Korea

Here Are 7 of the Weirdest North Korean State Slogans

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (L) appl
ED JONES—AFP/Getty Images North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (L) applauds during a military parade in honour of the 100th birthday of the late North Korean leader Kim Il-Sung in Pyongyang on April 15, 2012.

"Let us turn ours into a country of mushrooms!"

The North Korean leadership published a list of more than 300 slogans in state media on Thursday ahead of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the country’s Workers’ Party this year.

The lengthy list, comprising some 6,000 words in English translation, provides an often comical sense of some of the priorities of the government. Some of the statements are typical of the bellicose rhetoric North Korean directs toward South Korea and the United States, while others are more general declarations for improving different aspects of life, ranging from food production to the style of school uniforms.

An English translation was posted by the KCNA Watch, a website that monitors the North Korean official news agency. Here’s seven of the more bizarre slogans on the list:

  • “Let us build a fairyland for the people by dint of science!”
  • “More stylish school uniforms and quality school things for our dear children!”
  • “Should the enemy dare to invade our country, annihilate them to the last man so that none of them will survive to sign the instrument of surrender!”
  • “Let the wives of officers become dependable assistants to their husbands!”
  • “Let us turn ours into a country of mushrooms by making mushroom cultivation scientific, intensive and industrialized!”
  • “Launch more cutting-edge sci-tech satellites and applications satellites of our style!”
  • “Make fruits cascade down and their sweet aroma fill the air on the sea of apple trees at the foot of Chol Pass!”

See the full list here

 

TIME North Korea

Russia Confirms North Korea Leader’s Visit in May

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Ed Jones—AFP/Getty Images North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un saluting as he watches a military parade in Pyongyang on April 15, 2012 .

Kremlin declined to mention Kim Jong-Un by name, leaving some ambiguity as to whether the reclusive leader himself might attend

North Korea’s reclusive leader, Kim Jong Un, will reportedly make his first official visit abroad this May to attend a World War II commemorative ceremony in Moscow, Russian officials said on Wednesday.

Russia’s presidential spokesperson confirmed that North Korea’s leader was among 20 “state leaders” who plan to attend the ceremony, which will mark the 70th anniversary of the Soviet Union’s victory in World War II, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reports.

However, the Kremlin declined to mention Kim Jong-Un by name, leaving some ambiguity as to whether Kim would attend in person or would be represented by his nominal head of state for foreign relations, Kim Yong-nam.

TIME North Korea

Dennis Rodman Doesn’t Believe North Korea Hacked Sony

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Wang Zhao—AFP/Getty Images Former NBA basketball player Dennis Rodman waits to check in for his flight to North Korea after his arrival at Beijing's international airport on Jan. 6, 2014.

"North Korea is going to hack a comedy, a movie that is really nothing? I can’t see that happening"

Dennis Rodman doesn’t believe that North Korea hacked Sony Pictures, the basketball star and self-declared friend of Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un said in an interview published Saturday.

“How many movies have there been attacking North Korea? And they never hacked those. North Korea is going to hack a comedy, a movie that is really nothing? I can’t see that happening,” he told The Hollywood Reporter.

Rodman, whose remarks came as he promotes his new documentary on his travels to North Korea, has traveled to the isolated country on multiple occasions and has received a warm welcome from Kim, whom he describes as a friend. The basketball star has been criticized for being too cozy with a country often considered among the most repressive in the world.

Read More: The Interview May Be Funny; North Korea and Kim Jong Un Are Not

The claim challenges the United States government’s allegation that North Korea hacked Sony Pictures in retaliation for depicting the assassination of the country’s dictator in the movie The Interview.

Sony ultimately cancelled the theatrical release of the film in response to terrorist threats against some theaters that planned to show the movie.

[THR]

TIME North Korea

North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un May Visit Moscow, Russia Says

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un delivers a New Year's address
KCNA—Reuters North Korean leader Kim Jong Un delivers a New Year's address in this January 1, 2015 photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang.

Kim hasn't made an official foreign visit before

Kim Jong Un could visit Moscow this May in his first foreign visit as North Korea’s leader, according to statements from Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov.

Lavrov said on Wednesday that an invitation to attend the 70th anniversary celebrations of the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany received a “positive” response from North Korea, the Wall Street Journal reports.

He would not elaborate further, however, and the North Korean government has not yet commented on the proposed trip.

Kim, who had sent an envoy to Russian President Vladimir Putin in November, has not made an official foreign trip since assuming power in 2011.

[WSJ]

TIME Race

Margaret Cho’s Golden Globes Skit Was Minstrelsy, Not Comedy

The joke didn’t belong at a show where Asian Americans are virtually absent

North Korea—particularly the Kim regime—has long been a goldmine for laughs, ripe for a comedic take. Comedian Andy Borowitz has racked up 273,000 followers channeling Kim Jong-un on Twitter with jokes that parody North Korean news. A recent tweet: “You mess with N Korea’s Internet, you mess with me, coz I’m the only one here who has Internet.” Borowitz isn’t the only one to draw content from Pyongyang. Long before North Korea’s entry into the axis of evil, ripping on the Kim dictatorship had become commonplace; it was easy, a comic release for situations—be it famine or labor camps or weapons—that nobody found very funny.

The most recent example: comedienne Margaret Cho’s running gag at the Golden Globes on Sunday. Uniformed as a pop-culture-savvy Army General, Cho mocked North Korea as her vermilion upside-down mouth spewed broken English. The reaction was split: viewers clamoring over how her performance was either hilarious or another recycled, racist routine.

Cho has played the late Kim Jong-il on 30 Rock, which earned her an Emmy nomination (Amy Poehler has, too, for Saturday Night Live). Was it racist? Eh. I say that because racism in any art form has always been conditional and based on audience and context, as well as the white, male gaze. Put Cho, donned in military gear, goose-stepping, stern and accented, in front of a Korean American or immigrant audience. Feels different—maybe even funny. Put that same skit in front of a non-Asian audience for an awards show where Asian Americans have historically been absent as nominees or presenters or even guests, but where the one Asian American was assigned not as herself, but as a perennial stereotype. Things got uncomfortable. Cho was invited for the sole purpose of making fun of the North Korean government in light of the alleged Sony hack, while a backdrop of white celebrities laughed.

Naturally, Twitter erupted.

Some background: Twenty years ago, Margaret Cho headlined All-American Girl, the first U.S. sitcom to feature an Asian-American family; we haven’t seen an Asian-American family in television situation comedy since, but will next month in ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat, starring Randall Park, who also portrayed Kim Jong-un in The Interview. The reactions to Cho’s Sunday performance capture a sliver of her unique role as a breakthrough Asian American artist that employs outrageous racial content: she has been applauded for dramatically pushing back racial barriers during her career, while also being accused of racism throughout it.

It’s the extra burden placed on women and comedians of color. White, heterosexual male comedians don’t have to carry the responsibility of representation. They are free to go for the laughs and contribute as culture makers, no matter how juvenile or unfunny or offensive the joke may be. There is no expectation that their jokes represent a monolith. There is no backlash if a joke about white, straight men misfires. On Sunday, the three comics—one Korean, all women—took risks. The Cosby rape joke. North Korea. The reception was heated and torn because there are restrictions, people believe, on what they can say, especially as women, and for Cho, as a woman of color. But that wasn’t why Cho flopped in my eyes. It didn’t work because the joke didn’t belong at the Golden Globes, where Asian Americans are virtually absent, and not for the lack of talent, but for the lack of roles that present us within a spectrum of humanity.

Cho’s supporters would disagree, likely arguing that her skit was nuanced, sophisticated, that is, satire. But Cho’s skit is only that when we erase the history of minstrelsy, if we consume her through a false prism where marginalized groups are afforded multi-dimensional representations in pop culture and beyond. Within that prism, we would “lighten up,” laugh.

Despite what happened on Sunday, I remain an avid fan of Margaret Cho. Her pioneering I’m The One That I Want is one of most notable, and brave, performances to deeply explore racialized sexism in Hollywood. And her endearing portrayal of her mother reminded me, and probably every other Korean watching, of our own immigrant matriarchs—their cultural missteps and reservoir of love. Yet I am acutely aware that when Cho viciously makes fun of her mom—and yes, she’s very funny when she does—the reason I am laughing is different than why non-Asians are. I am touched or humored by the closeness I feel to Cho’s portrayal of her mom; non-Asians, or non-immigrants, are amused because there is distance between them and the foreign Other. This isn’t to say they are laughing, menacingly or inappropriately, at Cho and her family. But it is humorous because it is unfamiliar. Bizarre and weird. Like Kim.

Kai Ma is a writer, journalist and editor. She is the former editor-in-chief of KoreAm, an indie monthly for which she earned the national New America Media Award for Best In-Depth and Investigative Reporting for her feature story on gay marriage and the Asian-American vote. The views expressed are solely her own.

TIME South Korea

South Korea’s President Will Hold Talks With the North Without Conditions

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Jung Yeon-Jemdash — AFP/Getty Images South Korean President Park Geun-Hye speaks during her New Year press conference at the presidential Blue House in Seoul on Jan. 12, 2015.

The pledge follows recent overtures made by Kim Jong Un

South Korean President Park Geun-hye announced during a nationally televised address on Monday that she’s willing to hold a summit with North Korean strongman Kim Jong Un without any pre-conditions.

“My position is that to ease the pain of division and to accomplish peaceful unification, I am willing to meet with anyone,” said Park. “If it is helpful, I am up for a summit meeting with the North. There is no pre-condition.”

Park’s pledge follows similar overtures made by Kim Jong Un during his New Year’s address.

“Depending on the mood and circumstances to be created, we have no reason not to hold the highest-level talks,” said Kim.

Since the war between Seoul and Pyongyang was suspended by an armistice in 1953, South Korea’s and North Korea’s leaders have only met on two occasions — in 2000 and 2007.

[Al-Jazeera]

TIME Media

Sony Has Almost Made Its Money Back on The Interview

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Robyn Beck—AFP/Getty Images A poster for "The Interview" is displayed on the marquee of the Los Feliz 3 cinema December 25, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.

The controversial film brought in some $31 million in digital sales

Sony Pictures seems to be doing a decent job salvaging the disastrous launch of The Interview. The studio announced Tuesday that the film about an attempted assassination of Kim Jong-Un has managed to pull in $31 million in digital and video-on-demand sales after major movie theater chains refused to play the film on Christmas Day. That, an a small amount made by a limited release in theaters, means Sony has almost recouped its initial investment in the controversial film.

Following a wide-reaching hack of Sony Pictures that led to theft of thousands of sensitive corporate documents and threats of physical violence at theaters that played The Interview, screenings of the film were cancelled across the country. Sony pivoted to a digital release strategy, launching the film on YouTube, Google Play, Xbox and its own movie rental website on Christmas Eve.

The film racked up two million rentals and purchases totaling $15 million in sales in the first four days it was available. It’s now more than doubled that take in its second week, thanks in part to being added to a number of additional services such as Amazon Instant Video, iTunes and cable video on-demand systems.

Though the major theater chains declined to screen the movie, a few hundred independent chains debuted the film on its original Christmas Day release date. Through them the movie has managed about $5 million in traditional box office receipts, for a total haul of $36 million. The film reportedly cost $44 million to make.

The FBI has said that North Korea was responsible for the Sony hack, which disclosed confidential corporate plans and emails, as well as private information about actors and Sony employees. The U.S. has issued new sanctions against North Korea following the attack and said the sanctions were just the “first aspect” of the response.

TIME North Korea

Watch North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un Take the Controls of an Airplane

The North Korean dictator appears in a bombastic new propaganda film “piloting” an aircraft

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un appears in a new propaganda film in which, for some reason known only to Kim and perhaps his team of propagandists, the king of the hermit kingdom appears to be flying an airplane, sort of.

In a video posted to YouTube on New Year’s Eve by the account ‘stimmekoreas’, which has posted other videos related to North Korea in the past, the supreme leader of the DPRK can be seen taking off and landing a large plane with what looks like a substantial amount of assistance from his co-pilot. The video is accompanied by a marching band soundtrack and bombastic narration typical of other North Korean propaganda masterpieces.

Read more: Check Out Kim Jong Un’s Magical Disappearing Eyebrows

Kim’s pilot movie went online around the time he delivered a New Year’s address in which he said the DPRK was open to engaging in talks with South Korea. The two countries have been in a state of mostly frozen warfare since the Korean War settled into an uneasy armistice after 1953.

Though certainly important, the message of that speech was somewhat overshadowed by the mystery of Kim Jong Un’s disappearing eyebrows.

TIME North Korea

Check Out Kim Jong Un’s Magical Disappearing Eyebrows

Kim Jong-Un's eyebrows
KCNA/Reuters (3) From left: Kim Jong Un delivers a New Year's address on Jan. 1, 2015, Jan. 1, 2014, and Jan. 1, 2013.

The North Korean leaders eyebrows appear suddenly shrunken

When you’re the dictator of a totalitarian hermit state built on fear and mass delusion, it can be really hard to make the right fashion choices for each season.

The new eyebrow look sported by leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Kim Jong Un, may illustrate the pitfalls of having no one left to tell you “No…omg seriously just no.”

Kim Jong Un delivered a televised speech on Thursday in which he said the North is open to engaging in serious talks with South Korea. It was an important and almost conciliatory message, but one that was overshadowed — or undershadowed? — by the leader’s shrunken eyebrows.

READ MORE Watch North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un Take the Controls of an Airplane

In what looks to be a case of over plucking, Kim Jong Un has rendered his eyebrows in to mere dashes.

The South China Morning Post posits that Kim’s new forehead hyphens may be an effort to change his appearance to look more like his grandfather, Kim Il-sung, the first leader of North Korea.

Maybe the DPRK hoped to distract from Kim’s new look by releasing a propaganda video of the leader piloting a large airplane.

Read next: Kim Jong Un Says He Is Open To ‘Highest Level Talks’ With South Korea

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