north korea

Let’s get ready to wrassle in Pyongyang!

K2014080300215-450Following the glory of his 1995 pay-per-view special Collision in Korea, attended by over 150,000 obedient North Korean citizens (but more like 350,000 if you ask the North Koreans) in Pyongyang, Japanese former pro-wrestler turned pro-wrestling promoter, vitamin water and condom salesman, who does some politics on the side Kanji “Antonio” Inoki is in the midst of putting on his second international professional wrestling showcase in North Korea.

Inoki not only put on the first Collision in Korea, North Korea’s first attempt to gather up the world’s top pro-fighters, he headlined it. Instead of the world’s top fighters, they got Ric Flair getting his ass kicked by Inoki. George Foreman turned down the offer to participate. The line-up was mostly Japanese fighters and some undercard American WWF personalities, with Muhammad Ali sitting in a VIP box watching his former rival take down Nature Boy.  tumblr_l7grnfTrDc1qb978qo1_500

In 1976, shortly before his retirment, Ali went to Tokyo for a watered down MMA exhibition and went up against a sassy, spandexed Inoki. Ali talked his classic smack, called his opponent an Oriental, and dissed karate. That was before Inoki butt-scooted around the boxing ring kicking the crap out of Ali’s legs, and ended up Asian Squatting on his face.

For the revival of Collision in Korea, Inoki has brought in mostly US and Japanese athletes, with the only name making headlines in the US being Bob “The Beast” Sapp. Bob Sapp made it into Giant Robot every once in a while in our “Ask Eman” column and a less than flattering mention in our interview with Enson Inoue. Sapp is big in Japan and seems to be the perfect mix of Ric Flair and Dennis Rodman for North Korean celebrity tastes.

Bob Sapp exchanges with N. Korean publicThe event kicked off with arm wrestling well-fed North Korean kids, meet and greets, judo demonstrations, cultural tours, and tug of war. Watch the video on the DPRK’s state television’s Youtube channel to witness the foreign guests shuffle around tourist sites uncomfortably and pull a Korean tour bus with a giant rope.

Young Pioneer Tours, the folks that helped break Pacman and Peso’s musical career with a music video filmed in Pyongyang, set up a tour package that includes access to the event. VIP seats are a steal at $200 bucks. The cheap seats are going for $50.

Why North Korea? Inoki’s first trainer was a Japanese wrestling icon and war hero of North Korean descent. He recruited Inoki in Brazil in 1960, where Inoki’s family was part of Japan’s post-war emigration wave.  All reports say Collision in Korea isn’t a diplomatic mission, but Japan is making efforts to move talks with the DPRK forward for the release of Japanese abductees. They’re reaching out through North East Asian coalitions for regional security and Japan’s Foreign Affairs Minister has announced official talks with the DPRK to take place next spring in Sweden.

I don’t think they’re inviting any minor celebrity athletes.





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Rodman Goes to Rehab and Kenneth Bae Goes to Prison Camp

We all know that Rodman and Bae have nothing to do with each other thanks to the Rodman meltdown. Now that Rodman’s North Korea adventures are buried in everyone’s news feeds, Kenneth Bae makes his own headlines by being moved to a prison camp. When this piece of news gets buried, he’ll be fucked. (CNN)

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Access Denied

Back in October, the building home to Chongryon (the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan) in downtown Tokyo’s Chiyoda district went up on the auction block for a second time. The winning bid went to the mysterious Mongolian Avar LLC for 5.01 billion JPY (about 49 million USD).

The Korean residents that Chongryon was established for have long been known to be North Korean sympathizers, and the headquarters has been referred to as a de facto embassy in Japan.

Yesterday, it was reported that Avar’s bid to purchase the building was denied by the Tokyo District Court. The court blamed it on photocopies of required documents being submitted instead of originals, but there were also rumors that the business address in Ulaanbaatar provided by Avar LLC didn’t actually exist.

It looked bad for Avar from the get-go. Mongolian companies don’t own a lot of property outside of Mongolia, there were doubts about whether or not Avar could pay the winning bid, and questions about whether or not the purchase was actually being carried out on behalf of North Korea.The first time the building went up for auction, a Buddhist priest made the winning bid, but couldn’t come up with the cash and was found to have close ties to North Korean officials.

The UB Post published a short interview with a rather curt President of Avar back when the decision to finalize the sale was first postponed.

Here is a brief interview with President of Avar LLC, Ch.Erdenebat.       

 -The Japanese court has delayed the decision to proceed with the sale of the Chongryon site. Why has the court decision been postponed for the building you’ve purchased at auction?

 -The court decision is delayed because of various reports related to the auction by the press and media of Japan and Mongolia. The court decision was supposed to be issued last Tuesday. But a court decision will be issued soon.

-Your company has not been active before this? How did you participate in the auction?    

 -Our company has not been established for a long time. It is true that we have not been active. The company participated in the auction via a Japanese law firm. It does not matter how active the company is to participate in the auction.

-Your obliged 5.01 billion JPY is a very large amount of money. How did you organize the funds?

 -We will gather it through a foreign investment fund. After the court has made its decision I will give you specific information.

-According to reports by some Japanese press, Member of the State Great Khural D.Sumiyabazar and professional sumo wrestler and 68th grand champion Asashoryu D.Dagvadorj are connected to the purchase, or the Japanese government is behind this to bring back its citizens who were kidnapped in North Korea.

 -There are no links with any government bodies in Mongolia, Japan, North Korea or South Korea. It is just a business. Member of the State Great Khural D.Sumiyabazar is the husband of my sister Ch.Michidmaa. That is why people say that D.Sumiyabazar is involved in the purchase.

-Is Asashoryu D.Dagvadorj connected to the purchase?




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If Rodman Didn’t Go, Would Kenneth Bae Have This Press Conference?

Now something is happening to Kenneth Bae, and yes, you have to thank The Worm for it. Whether he’s drunk, in rehab or singing happy birthday, he brought attention to North Korea. Bae is probably innocent of everything he’s saying he did and in the same pattern as in past cases of anyone stuck in North Korea, you have to gather as much press as you can for the guy. For Kenneth Bae, he’s almost forgotten. He has no fame, no Kickstarter, and not enough reasons for the mass droves of press to care. Except for the antics of The Worm. Is this just a coincidence? No. (CNN – Bae)

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Pacman and Peso are going to Pyongyang

Some guy who thinks he’s going to be the next Rick Rubin, started a Kickstarter account for two D.C. rappers, Pacman and Peso. Their benefactor formed the rap duo, and then had an A-HA moment about how to build hype: send these two dudes to North Korea to make a music video. The Washington Post reported on this story earlier this month, when they had just reached their Kickstarter goal and Peso and Pacman went to apply for U.S. passports.

I guess North Korea is the new…. wait, why do they have to go to North Korea? Oh right, cause Rick Rubin 2.0′s buddy is trying to make a living booking tours there. But what’s with this on their itinerary?

11/24 – Kang Bang Suk Middle School Performance, Pyongyang Metro & Metro Museum, Gun Range (Hen Hunt), Music and Dance Conservatory cultural show -circus/opera, Chicken and Watermelon Dinner (chicken from gun range), Kereoke Party Bus Pyongyang at Night City Bus Tour.

Clearly these guys need a lot of help getting noticed. A lot. Maybe more than their producer and the guy booking their tour. There’s still a few hours left if you’re interested in jumping on the caboose of their publicity trainwreck.




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Watch out Apple and Samsung!

A new challenger is entering the smartphone marketplace. Get ready for North Korea’s Arirang!

The latest innovation from the hermit nation is its very own smartphone. No need to rely on foreign technology (well, except from countries that still export to NK and presumably provided all the parts and possibly the technology) and apps to help you negotiate life in Pyongyang. What are your friends up to on Foursquare? Where’s the nearest coffee sho- oh wait, nevermind, still no internet unless you’re a high ranking government official. No Foursquare badges for you.

Maybe they’ll at least be able to get Candy Crush on their phones and tablets. Because everyone likes Candy Crush. Could be the perfect remedy for chasing the blues away when your husband is wasting away in a gulag. I hope they aren’t just stuck with Angry Birds, cause that’s so five years ago…

According to’s story, North Korea has been taking careful notes on what the US government has been doing, but with considerably more transparency about their activities:

“North Koreans now have  more opportunities to talk between themselves than ever. In the long run, this is likely to have political consequences. But the North Korean authorities understand the risks and they work hard to cushion the politically negative impact of the ongoing changes. Aside from the censorship and eavesdropping, the North Korean authorities use numerous technical and administrative measures to make it difficult to use the new IT network to spread politically suspicious content.”


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Kenneth Bae Gets 15 Years Hard Labor

Pictures of fleeing Hyundais strapped down with merchandise at the Kaesong Industrial Complex may be more exciting than old pictures of Kenneth Bae, but we should take a minute to think about the reality he’s now up against.

In November of last year, while leading a tour group in North Korea, Bae was detained, found guilty of an unknown crime, and has now been sentenced to 15 years of hard labor in a N. Korean gulag. The North Korean government hasn’t said what the alleged crime was, and probably won’t.

Without the recent nuclear threats, would Bae’s story be making headlines? He’s been there for a while now…

Maybe we can send Dennis Rodman back to talk to his buddy Kim Jong Un, and explain that detaining people isn’t good for his public image. I guess threatening to launch missiles at people isn’t either though.

Take a minute to read about Kenneth Bae’s story. A Facebook page has been created to share updates and news about his detainment.

Maybe also take a few minutes out of your day to contact your representative in Congress and ask them what they’re doing to help free Kenneth Bae. All the Facebook likes in the world won’t get through to North Korea, but maybe letting our representatives know what’s at stake to their constituents, will help.




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Photos of North Korea That Look Different

Taken by a Swedish Photographer here’s some images that you might haven’t seen before. People look normal for once. Girls giving the peace sign (yes those must be Kim Jong Un pins affixed to their outfits, people picnicking, but there’s plenty of struggle as well. (expressen – North Korea)

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North Korean Escapee Talks about Her Ordeal

What can you say about a person who has experienced North Korean hell. It’s probably about the same as someone who escaped Vietnam, Pol Pot, WWII, Hitler, and the list goes on to the current day.

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So Much for Rodman, North Korea Making More Threats

After a spirited PR stunt that landed Dennis Rodman on some basketball diplomacy that made great headlines, a few days later, it’s North Korea threatening more nukes, etc. “North Korea threatened Tuesday to nullify the armistice agreement that ended the Korean War in 1953, citing U.S.-led international moves to impose new sanctions against it over its recent nuclear test, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported.” (CNN – Armistice)

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Kim Jong Un and Dennis Rodman

An unlikely pair, or maybe most likely. The game? Who cares, but it somehow ended at 110-110. Of course both teams had North Korean players on it along with some Americans, so of course North Korea can’t beat North Korea. All are the greatest.

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North Korea Propaganda Video Uses Game Graphics

Call of Duty graphics used in strange North Korean video. It’s strange and illustrates the point that the video makers for North Korea need some training. Activision gets trolled.


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The Brief History of Kim Jong Il – Animated

Kim Jong Il accomplished many incredible feats. Minah Kim (no relation) celebrates them with this hilarious animated video. Will there are more? Perhaps so says Minah Kim, “I actually am considering making a follow up video since there are so many more amazing things the Dear Leader has done during his reign. And this video should include his adorable son and current North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Un.”



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Google Map Gulags

Within just a few weeks of Google CEO, Eric Schmidt’s North Korea visit, Google Maps updated its eye on the DPRK. Schmidt’s daughter traveled with him, on the “humanitarian” mission and blogged about it. CNN Money scoops her story.

Cities, and the famous Bukchang Gulag can now be viewed in detail, thanks to the work of crowdsourced Google Earth  and other satellite images.

This image (courtesy of CNN) shows a Guard’s Restroom with a Google restaurant icon. I hope that’s just some weird iOS 6 type glitch, and not another chapter in the story of recently reported North Korean cannibalism

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North Korea Threatens USA

North Korean leaders are having too much fun. They can easily threaten and then play games with it. Now it’s nuclear testing with the US as a target. Why is it that, I doubt people will create a frenzy and overbuy water, gas, and gas masks? (NY Times – North Korea Threat)

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Google in North Korea

Google is a household name around the globe – at least in households with regular internet access. It’s even a verb in foreign languages. Now, Google Chairman, Eric Schmidt is in North Korea to… well, no one really knows. Maybe he’s there to get the Google Maps car better access to the driveway of this “Covert Runway“.  He might be there to try the North Korean style nang-myun he’s heard so much about from his Bay Area foodie friends, but a few days into his visit and it’s still a mystery.

The “official” story is that he’s accompanying former New Mexico governor, Bill Richardson, on a humanitarian mission to negotiate the release of a Korean American hostage. CEOs are the new influential world leaders, so I suppose it’s possible, but somehow I think Schmidt lacks that Clinton charm that helped to free Laura Ling and Euna Lee.

Some believe that Schmidt is there to urge Kim Jong Un to ease restrictions on internet and data access. Others believe there’s a different agenda. North Korea is a new frontier when it comes to Google style information sharing. Schmidt will likely learn at least a tiny bit about the future of digital media in the new regime, and he may be looking for a foothold. Five years of Google in communist China didn’t pan out quite the way everyone had hoped though. How will North Korea handle the world’s largest search engine? Will Google+ and its Google Hangouts help re-unite the peninsula? All I know is that if any of the Kim boys want to add me to their circles, I’m SO adding them back.


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Kim Jong Il to be Immortalized While Resting

Care to see Kim Jong Il’s body embalmed? It’s happening soon and you can see him as soon as in January. He’ll be placed next to his father, Kim Il Sung. (Stripes – Kim Jong Il)

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Kim Jong Un Leads Time Magazine Poll for Person of the Year

Amazing how powerful the internet can be. Troll voters from 4Chan stuff the ballot boxes. He’s so far ahead of the others, it’s a runaway landslide, but in the end, that’s not how the winner gets picked. The people have spoken in a funny way. How will Time respond? (Time)



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Unicorn Lair Found in North Korea

Unfortunately, there are no photos of the unicorn, or unicorn horn, or the ancient King who rode the unicorn. Fortunately, you can still purchase a Unicorno in commemoration of this find! (GR store)

“According to the Korean Central News Agency, the lair of the mythical creature is located 200 meters (about 219 yards) from the Yongmyong Temple in Pyongyang. A rock that sits in front of the lair contains carvings that some believe date back to the period of the Koryo Kingdom (918-1392), the outlet notes.” (Huffpo – Unicorn Lair)

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Psy’s Anti-American Past

Park Jae-Sang, better known as Psy, and his hit song “Oppa Gangnam Style”has taken the world by storm without any sign of slowing down. As the newly deemed King of Kpop joyously revels in his newfound fame, it might come as a surprise to some that he wasn’t always so congenial towards America. A video surfaced from a concert in 2004 where he smashed a miniature model of a tank on stage while the crowd raucously cheers, coupled with the lyrics:

싸이 rap : 이라크 포로를 고문해 댄 씨발양년놈들과
고문 하라고 시킨 개 씨발 양년놈들에
딸래미 애미 며느리 애비 코쟁이 모두 죽여
아주 천천히 죽여 고통스럽게 죽여

Kill those fucking Yankees who have been torturing Iraqi captives
Kill those fucking Yankees who ordered them to torture
Kill their daughters, mothers, daughters-in-law, and fathers
Kill them all slowly and painfully.

This song may have come around the time of the U.S.’s internationally maligned invasion of Iraq, but there’s an older context beneath all this. South Korea adhered to the Sunshine Policy towards North Korea up until Lee Myung-Bak’s presidency. The policy was intended to improve relations between the North and South with the (partial) aim of (eventual) reunification. Critics say that the downside of such a fool’s crusade is that the South opted for the North’s interests over the former’s closest ally, the United States. This included, as B.R. Myers alleges in his book The Cleanest Race, “encouraging an anti-American line in education and urging the media to ‘finlandize’ their coverage of the DPRK.”

It doesn’t stop there. On June 13th, 2002, a military vehicle accidentally killed two teenage girls in what would later be deemed the “Yangju Highway Incident.” The tragedy sparked a greater wave of anti-American sentiment along with Apolo Ohno 2002 Winter Olympics controversy.

The Korea Herald ran a story in Dec. 2002, on “Socially Active Celebrities” supporting the ROK’s Anti-American ’cause.’ Guess which celebrity’s name pops up? Flight of the Kiwi posted more excerpts from the article. 

This is all the more reason why its so curious that he’s beaming with America’s affection towards him. As of right now, the best defense on his end is that he was merely pandering to popular sentiments of the time. Either that or he could just be an opportunist as this one CNN iReport suggests. Nevertheless, the important question is how Americans will receive it if news of his previous opinions go viral.