The North Koreans do great propaganda posters: totally bomb-tastic and shameless.* It’s true that their style owes everything to Stalin & Hitler, but that only provides for a delicious irony when you consider that self-reliance, or Juche, is the Hermit Kingdom’s ruling ideology. (You can tell Dear Leader he’s in the Axis of Evil, but whatever you do, don’t go calling him derivative.) “Let’s develop our national form, with Socialist content,” pudgy Kim Il-Sung declared at some exhibit opening in 1966. “Now go eat cheese & crackers.”
In the 40 years since, Form has gloriously met Content in order to lay waste to the United States Capitol [jpg] and to kick some Aryan GI ass [jpg].** Now the wonder twins are back, this time to celebrate an aggressively red*** & phallic missile blasting off into the great Juche sky on some exalted Juche mission . . .
And yet, something is awry.
Notice the Hangul, or Korean writing, at the bottom. One syllable doesn’t seem to be put together correctly. Written Korean consists of individual letters arranged into syllable boxes according to a set of rules. Some letters join together, some don’t. These letters
don’t. An equivalent mistake in English might involve putting a q and an r next to each other. This particular poster appeared on The New York Times website July 9, attached to a Week in Review story about the North’s recent missile test. So what gives?
I hardly pretend to be an expert in the language, and my Korean tutor just moved to Memphis (safe travels, Ji-seon), so if you know better than I, please comment below. [Or not. See update below. – Ed.]
In the meantime, please enjoy “Fucking USA” [Mp3], in which Form (what sounds suspiciously like bad American rock) embraces Content (the title is fairly self-explanatory) “to promote patriotism, heighten the national pride and confidence of the public in living in a Socialist country.” Or something.
* As they say in North Korea, “A boneless human tongue breaks bones.” Although look at that missile. It’s way more boner than boneless.
** Images are courtesy of blogger Oranckay.
*** As they say in North Korea, “Try to be a tomato rather than an apple.” In other words, be red (or Red, if you prefer) inside & out.
UPDATE: Christ. Okay, now I get it. It’s just a weird font. The first two letters are, in fact, one letter, which is called pieup. (Its sound is like an aspirated p.)
This is what happens when you read a language at the kindergarten level . . . Fucking DPRK.