Forget ‘Gangnam Style’, North Korean ‘Propaganda’ is the real viral hit of 2012
The last week has seen Korea dominate the global spotlight on the internet. Zany South Korean pop video Gangnam Style became the most liked and watched video on YouTube, and days later North Korea held a mass rally to celebrate the launch of their first satellite. Yet despite the online attention that has surrounded the two divided nations, the most intriguing Korean export of the year has gone largely unnoticed.
Propaganda 2012 is a 95-minute video that presents itself as a North Korean educational video intending to inform the citizens of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea about the dangers of Western propaganda. The video’s uploader, known as ‘Sabine’, reiterates a statement she gave to the Federal Police regarding the movie’s origins. She explains how the film was given to her by people claiming to be North Korean defectors whilst she was visiting Seoul.
However, ‘Sabine’ goes on to state that she believes the suppliers were in fact working for the DPRK, and that the video was created with the intention to be viewed by Western audiences. Given the film’s broad choice of targets; its reluctance to outwardly lie about life in the West; and its documentary, rather than Socialist Realist, style – it should also be considered that the video’s creator may in fact be an sock puppet anti-capitalist based in the Western world.
Although the origins of Propaganda 2012 are contentious, its power lies in the fact that much of its content attempts to avoid invented history. Considering the media buzzwords associated with the alleged country of origin, Propaganda 2012 turns a mirror onto the Western world and seeks to criticise its entire history and culture – from the genocide and imperialism of its past, to the interventionism and consumerism of the modern era. The movie’s overall attitude seems to express an intention to educate, shock and caution its audience into realising that people in the West are governed by a super-rich ruling class (The one per cent), who do not offer them true democracy; but instead seek to invade and assimilate as many countries as possible, whilst distracting their population with a smokescreen of consumerism, celebrity, and reality television. This message is spread across the video’s 17 chapters, which each attempt to focus on specific examples of Western indoctrination and oppression. The film is regularly punctuated by commentary from an anonymous North Korean professor, and quotes from Western thinkers such as Noam Chomsky and Richard Dawkins.
Early scenes show audiences on Oprah moved to hysterics and tears after receiving free consumer goods, and a man applauded by crowds and interviewed on the street after being the first person to buy a new iPhone. These pictures set up the in-depth criticism of a culture of people who are raised in fear of communism and terrorism, and who seek salvation through the empty promises of religion and capitalism. We are then warned to beware the one per cent, who through the mass propaganda machine known as ‘the public relations industry’, attempt to brainwash people into trusting brands with empty slogans like “Just Do It” and “I’m Loving It”. Meanwhile, the mainstream media utilises the films of Quentin Tarantino, and the TV Series Survivor, to portray the world as a violent place where only the most ruthless succeed.
We are then informed how organised Western propaganda has not slowed since World War II, and has been utilised to cover-up and omit large chunks of history in order to further modern political causes. This allegedly creates a population who are complicit with Western democracy’s neo-imperialist intentions, and who hasten to revolt against a system they know to be broken as they are too busy watching television advertisements, eating poisonous food, and attempting to emulate millionaire narcissists such as Tyra Banks and Paris Hilton.
The Western population’s lack of political education therefore allows their opulently wealthy “masters” to rule them unchecked, and gain support for their imperialist invasions under the guise of ‘counter-terrorism’. The video concludes with a warning to North Koreans that they must remain vigilant about of the threat of Western invasion as “they have come before, and they will come again”.
Although its content largely consists of speculation and conspiracy theories, Propaganda 2012 seeks to base most of its claims in sound history. Its final chapter, however, descends into describing 9/11 as a government-led false flag operation, akin to the burning of the Reichstag, which is likely to alienate those who were otherwise following the genuinely disturbing narrative of Western history that was highlighted earlier on. Moreover, the video’s sociological claims are also questionable, with information regarding public opinion polls in the West portraying a civilization more outraged with its leaders than is perhaps the case.
Propaganda 2012 is certainly a film where the audience takes from it what they bring to it, and a variety of emotions can be induced upon viewing. Laughter, cynicism, outrage, contemplation and reflection would all be adequate responses to the video’s tough, and often graphic, portrayal of the complex world in which we are living. Yet perhaps the most important thing to remember when watching the film is that the video is available to view uncensored, on a largely unregulated world wide web, and merely represents an extreme end of the vast spectrum of free expression. Therefore, during this festive end to an austere year, enjoy Propaganda 2012 as an interesting and beguiling alternative voice that cries loudly against the dangers of religious consumerism, and reminds us to remain humble and reflect on those less fortunate than ourselves.Gangnam style, Kim Jong-Il, Kim Jong-Un, Noam Chomsky, north korea, Propaganda 2012, Psy, Richard Dawkins, Sabine
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