Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Entries Tagged as 'North Korea'

“Power Creature of the Zephyr Lines”

April 2nd, 2012 · Comments Off on “Power Creature of the Zephyr Lines”

Crashing on a major Wired deadline today. In my absence, please enjoy the North Korean propaganda video above, featuring the least enthusiastic narrator in the history of film. Back tomorrow with something truly splendid from the history of swindling.

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Monkey with the Lingo

January 3rd, 2012 · 6 Comments

Among the many bizarre books I’ve been reading for research purposes, few are stranger than Eldridge Cleaver’s Soul on Fire, the former Black Panther bigwig’s account of becoming a born again Christian in the late 1970s. Cleaver spends much of the book repudiating the Communist allies who once supported him, including the North Korean dictator […]

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This is Your Wake-Up Call

December 19th, 2011 · Comments Off on This is Your Wake-Up Call

The realist in me is resigned to the fact that little will change for North Korea’s long-suffering citizens in the wake of Dear Leader’s demise. But upon learning the news late last night, I immediately thought of a strangely optimistc scene from Barbara Demick’s Nothing to Envy, one set in the immediate aftermath of Kim […]

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Despots of a Feather

November 9th, 2011 · Comments Off on Despots of a Feather

Strange YouTube journey this morning as I sought some quickie material for a reporting day. Inspired by Dr. Swerve-On’s latest installment of Fresh Produce, I started off looking for George Benson’s version of “California Dreaming.” Yet I somehow ended up fixated on the video above, in which Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu pays a visit to […]

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An Embarrassment of Riches

November 4th, 2011 · Comments Off on An Embarrassment of Riches

Spending today sifting through an absolute treasure trove of primary-source documents, which is why you’ll have to make do with some Algerian chanteusery instead of the usual polymathic mish-mash. Though I can’t yet reveal the exact nature of the documents I’m examining, I can tell you one thing they’ve taught me so far: Kim Il-sung […]

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That Revelatory Moment

June 8th, 2011 · 4 Comments

In studying various classic works of non-fiction, I’ve noticed that many do an excellent job of setting up a character’s epiphany. This is no mean feat, as it is quite easy to make those sudden revelations come off as artificial. The key is to make us understand the logical trail that led someone to realize […]

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An Explanation for the Drabness

May 25th, 2011 · 4 Comments

One of the small upsides of traveling is that it’s given me time to catch up on the to-read queue—not much else to do in a small Oregon town after sundown, except devour information and good beer in equal measure. The first book to fall was Barbara Demick’s Nothing to Envy, which is both brilliant […]

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Signifying Nothing

November 29th, 2010 · 3 Comments

The human rays of sunshine above are academics devoted to the study of juche, the nonsensical North Korean ideology that stresses self-reliance above all else. You would think that men and women in possession of advanced degrees would recognize the flaws in an economic theory that denies the basic sociability of our species—or, at the […]

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Tone Deaf

November 22nd, 2010 · 3 Comments

I spent much of the weekend zipping through The Reluctant Communist, former Army sergeant Charles Robert Jenkins‘ memoir of the 39 years he spent living in North Korea after walking across the demilitarized zone in 1965. It’s a harrowing read, primarily because it reveals the North Korean establishment to be even more deluded than I’d […]

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Fortune’s Supposed Favorites

August 23rd, 2010 · 2 Comments

The morning grog is heavy today, on account of the fact that I stayed up late watching Crossing the Line, a documentary about Virginia native James Joseph Dresnok‘s 1962 defection to North Korea. Despite some clunky Christian Slater narration, it’s a stellar flick—a deeply researched portrait of a man whose tragic background made him yearn […]

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Ransom as Lifeblood

March 10th, 2010 · 7 Comments

For fairly obvious reasons, we find it unable to resist scholarly examinations of North Korea’s currency weirdness. Why would Dear Leader’s regime see fit to instantly vaporize what little wealth the Hermit Kingdom’s poor citizens have managed to scrape together? (We suspect the answer has something to do with the abuse of Hennessy, which has […]

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Fake It ‘Til You Make It

February 9th, 2010 · 4 Comments

Nations at odds have long resorted to counterfeiting one another’s currencies, on the theory that doing so can severely undermine a foe’s economy. But the tactic just doesn’t sting like it used to, in part because cash is so less essential today, but also because the increasing sophistication of anti-counterfeiting technology has made the gambit […]

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As the Haus Turns

December 10th, 2009 · Comments Off on As the Haus Turns

Has any architectural innovation been as unfairly maligned as the revolving restaurant? Call such establishments as the Restaurant Skyline Mannheim and Yanggakdo Hotel kitsch if you must, but we rather like the idea of spinning around while feasting on serviceable victuals. Think of it as a sub-gourmet celebration of man’s aptitude for making grand machines. […]

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Casting With Disaster

October 15th, 2009 · 5 Comments

As we went digging into our pocket for some change this morning, we came up with a piece of currency sure to give the vending machine a case of indigestion: a 20 shilling coin from Kenya, a souvenir of our recent East African jaunt. Before tossing back the useless money in frustration, however, we noticed […]

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“A Monster of the People”

June 11th, 2009 · 1 Comment

As things get ever-weirder in the Hermit Kingdom, it’s worth remembering the gobsmacking tale of Shin Sang-ok, a Japanese filmmaker kidnapped by Kim Jong-il. Even if you’re already familiar with Shin’s ordeal, it’s worth revisiting this harrowing account from 2003. We could scarcely imagine a more savage indictment of Dear Leader’s crippling megalomania. Forced to […]

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Keeping Tabs on Dear Leader’s Nukes

May 26th, 2009 · Comments Off on Keeping Tabs on Dear Leader’s Nukes

In devouring the weekend’s reports regarding North Korea’s latest atomic machinations, we were struck by the technological limits of the global monitoring system. Seismic readings indicate that something went down that Mother Nature didn’t intend, but such tremors can be caused by conventional explosions. (Yeah, that’s a lot of TNT, but it can be done.) […]

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Chasing the Dragon

May 15th, 2009 · Comments Off on Chasing the Dragon

Today’s installment of NtHWS Extras is gonna have a past-is-prologue feel, as we look back at Japan’s alleged narcotics profiteering during World War II. We’re accustomed to hearing plenty about the Taliban’s reliance on narco-dollars, but Japan’s wartime opium production is now largely forgotten. At the time, however, American politicians were fond of harping on […]

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Dear Leader is Strictly Business

February 19th, 2009 · Comments Off on Dear Leader is Strictly Business

Really wish I had the funds for an early March trip to The Hague, as this event (PDF) looks damn nigh unmissable. It’s certainly not the longest business seminar I’ve ever seen, which I guess says a lot about the state of the North Korean economy. Poor Evert Jacobsen, for example, only gets 15 minutes […]

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Air Koryo

February 10th, 2009 · Comments Off on Air Koryo

No self-respecting country can do without an airline, and North Korea is no exception. The Hermit Kingdom’s lone commercial carrier is Air Koryo, founded in 1954 (as the less melliflously dubbed Choson Minhang CAAK). Alas, the airline’s destinations appear to be fairly limited; you can charter flights to Bangkok, Macao, or Sofia, but the normal […]

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