North Korean leader Kim Jong-un attended a performance earlier this month which included selected scenes from the 1985 Hollywood movie "Rocky 4" where the protagonist, Rocky Balboa, knocks out his fearsome Soviet rival Ivan Drago. The performance also featured the hit song "My Way" by Frank Sinatra, Disney characters Mickey Mouse and Winnie the Pooh, and women dressed in mini-skirts, high-heeled shoes or off-the-shoulder tops reminiscent of the girl bands of South Korea.
North Korean state TV showed Kim applauding and giving a thumbs-up afterwards, and described the performance as "totally new in style." Pundits believe that a fashionably short-haired woman in her 20s seated next to Kim during the performance was either his wife or a member of the newly-created Moranbong troupe, who gave the performance.
At the ASEAN Regional Forum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia last week, the North Korean delegation passed out a press release in English incorrectly signed by former foreign minister Paik Nam-soon, who died in 2007, and misspelled Phnom Penh. The North must have gotten so stuck in its repetitive propaganda that it even forgot to change the name of the foreign minister on official documents.
Rep. Lee Seok-ki of the hard-left Unified Progressive Party, who is sympathetic to North Korea, recently claimed the U.S. has the highest illiteracy and death rates in the world and the largest number of nuclear bombs. Yet North Korea, which Lee seems to regard as a paradise on earth, is now being led by a young man who is enamored of the American pop culture of yesteryear and believes embracing it constitutes a great leap forward.
The Korea Peace Forum, led by Lim Dong-won and Lee Jong-seok, the foreign affairs and national security chiefs under the Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun administrations, has recently set a third inter-Korean summit as one of the top priorities of the next South Korean president. The idea that this country's next president should be discussing the future of the peninsula with a 20-something backwoods hipster is simply pathetic.