New York Times
POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Feb 6, 2013
SEOUL » North Korea is not known for its subtlety, famous instead for its soaring patriotic rhetoric and threats to turn the capital of its rival, South Korea, into a "sea of fire."
But even by those standards, the latest volley of North Korea propaganda is noteworthy. Posted recently on YouTube, a video by one of the North's propaganda agencies shows an animated version of New York in flames — part of a dream in which a young Korean man envisions a glorious future of rocket launchings and the reunification of the Korean Peninsula. The background music to the celebration of perceived military might: an instrumental version of "We Are the World."
"I see black smoke billowing somewhere in America," the text that scrolls across the screen says in what are, in essence, subtitles of the man's dream. "It appears that the headquarters of evil, which has had a habit of using force and unilateralism and committing wars of aggression, is going up in flames it itself has ignited."
By Tuesday afternoon, the video had been removed from YouTube after a copyright complaint from Activision, the maker of the video game "Call of Duty," from which the fiery New York scene was lifted. Copies, however, were up elsewhere on the Web, including on Live Leak.
The 3 1/2-minute clip — titled "On Board Unha-9" and posted on YouTube on Saturday by Uriminzokkiri, a North Korean government website — is the latest evidence of the propaganda mileage Pyongyang is extracting from its Dec. 12 launching of its Unha-3 rocket, which the West considers North Korea's first successful test of long-range-missile technology.
North Korea has been trumpeting the success of the rocket, which put a satellite into orbit, to its people, saying it was proof that their impoverished country was advancing toward a high-tech future. But the latest video is part of a years-long effort by the North to reach South Koreans and Koreans around the world through the Internet. (North Korea keeps its people, except for a tiny portion of its elite, cut off from the Internet.)
This is not the first time North Korea has portrayed attacks on the United States. Propaganda posters have shown a missile striking what looks like Capitol Hill.
The latest propaganda assault comes after weeks of increasingly strident missives from the North, which is angered by a Washington-led U.N. resolution tightening sanctions as punishment for the rocket test. The country has since promised a nuclear test, its third, as it tries to build what it calls a deterrent against attack by the U.S. or others.
There is no evidence the North has the ability to strike the U.S. mainland with missiles.
Another YouTube video, also uploaded on Saturday, shows the Unha-3 rocket blasting off while a narrator identified as a worker in a Pyongyang cosmetics factory compares the moment to "flame of love igniting at first sight."
Uriminzokkiri has run Twitter and YouTube accounts since 2010, uploading more than 5,470 songs, news reports and videos. Earlier pieces had called Hillary Rodham Clinton, when she was secretary of state, a "minister in a skirt" and South Korean officials "servile dogs."
South Koreans are blocked by their government's firewall from gaining access to North Korean websites, but they could watch Uriminzokkiri posts on YouTube.
The "On Board Unha-9" video shows a sleeping man dreaming of traveling in a space shuttle. (The suggestion is that the North has a bright technological future, since the country is apparently up to only the third version of the Unha rocket.)
The shuttle circles the Earth, passing over the Korean Peninsula, where people are jubilant over a reunification. The camera then zooms in on the cataclysmic New York scene.