North Korea's Dancing Agitprop

Western visitors tell tales of propaganda-drenched state
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 3, 2007 3:07 PM CDT

(Newser) – The 2,000 Western tourists who managed to visit North Korea this year—four times as many as were allowed in 2002—offer a weirdly illuminating glimpse into the propaganda-saturated country closed to journalists, notes the Economist. Kim Jong-Il’s “Mass Games” performances—packed with synchronized dancing eggs and tens of thousands of gymnasts, make visits to the “basket-case state” unforgettable for the intrepid.

Devotion is so deeply institutionalized that all citizens are required to wear lapel pins with Kim’s face (or his father’s) at all times—and a Kim visage is affixed to every street corner. It’s inappropriate to fold the Pyonyang Times if it depicts Dear Leader. Particularly amusing to Western visitors: at an amusement park, targets in crossbow-shooting stalls feature  "big-nosed American soldiers and glowering Japanese."