The word “bizarre” most aptly describes a three and a half-minute long YouTube video released by North Korea’s quasi-official website Uriminzokkiri.(Uriminzokkiri/우리민족끼리 is Korean for “Our Nation” and is affiliated with the Korean Central News Agency.)
The YouTube video in discussion was released on February 5th and was quickly picked up and reported on by the mainstream media. What did they have to say about the video?
Washington Post: “As North Korea threatens to carry out measures ‘stronger’ than a third nuclear test in response to what it believes are ‘hostile’ sanctions imposed after its December rocket launch, its state media also released a bizarre new video in which a North Korean young man apparently dreams about the destruction of what appears to be New York City.” (1)
Yahoo! News: “In what appears to be a provocative PR stunt, a bizarre video uploaded to YouTube by North Korea over the weekend shows a dream sequence that includes a U.S. city resembling New York under an apparent missile attack.” (2)
Huffington Post: “In a bizarre dream sequence of events, North Korea posted a video to its official YouTube account showing an American city left destroyed following an apparent missile attack.” (3)
Fox News: “North Korea, already gearing up for yet another nuclear test, has posted a bizarre online video depicting New York under an apparent missile attack with “We Are the World” serving as a soundtrack.” (4)
Yes, I’ve seen it and the video really is, well… bizarre.
It starts off innocently enough with a sleeping (presumably North Korean) boy being filmed with an archaic Canon EOS 20D camera(a camera which actually does not have video recording capabilities) dreaming of flying around the earth in an animated space shuttle to the backdrop of “We Are the World”. Things take a disturbing turn, however, when we cut to what appears to be New York City ablaze draped against the backdrop of an American flag with missiles raining down from the sky. The Korean-language caption: “Somewhere in the United States, black clouds of smoke are billowing. It seems that the nest of wickedness is ablaze with the fire it set upon itself.”
To add to the strangeness of this story, shortly after the launch of the North Korean YouTube video, Activision (a large American video game publisher) had the video taken down citing copyright violations (5). The scene of the unidentified U.S. city under attack was taken from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, a best-selling first-person shooter video game released in 2011.
My personal take on the whole situation is that North Korea is attempting to swagger in the spotlight and cash in on its successful rocket launch last year on December 12thand the recent successful nuclear test on February 12thto bring the U.S. back to the negotiating table with a stronger hand and to simultaneously deter any acts of aggression (e.g. further sanctions) that would negatively affect the North.
Although still a long way from being taken seriously as having a real nuclear deterrent (i.e. the ability to successfully launch and strike a target at any time), the past two months have challenged the notion that North Korea is a technologically inept nation living in the stone age. (The number of nations that have both launched a satellite into orbit and successfully tested a nuclear weapon stands at just seven: USA, USSR/Russia, UK, France, China, India, and North Korea.)
Many unfamiliar with North Korean propaganda fail to realize that the bellicose, sensational rhetoric is nothing new; in fact, the bizarre video is in line with bombastic North Korean messages of the past – North Korea regularly threatens to turn Seoul into a “sea of fire” during their annual military drills.
However, with the nuclear test and launch of the satellite (said to be a cover for a ballistic missile test) so close together, some are taking the North Korean threat seriously. My advice: take the truculent and pompous language with a grain of salt, gather your friends, and enjoy the bizarre video below.
See the “bizarre” video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hK8zQIsMmnk