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As the uproar over New York Times public editor Arthur Brisbane’s “truth vigilante” question continues, it’s worth noting that North Korea’s official newspaper, Rodong Singmun, launched an English-language digital version this week. The home page includes a large picture of Kim Jong Un inspecting a construction site and headlines such as “150,000 cubic meters of earth blasted” and “Japan’s ‘Three Principles of Arms Export’ No More Than Scrap of Paper.”
The English version of the paper is divided into four sections — “Supreme Leaders’ Activities,” “In DPRK,” “Inter-Korean” and “International.” The “Inter-Korean” section consists exclusively of articles criticizing South Korea; 56 of these, with headlines like “Lee Myung Bak Shrieks before Fatal End” and “Foolish Outbursts of Military Warmongers,” have been published since Wednesday.
South Korea’s Korea Times reported on Rodong Singmun‘s English version launch. South Koreans’ access to the website is blocked because the two countries are technically at war, the Korea Times reports, though they were able to access it for a brief time on Tuesday when its IP address changed.
Reading Rodong Singmun‘s articles is a somewhat surreal experience as they are a strange combination of incredibly boring, funny and scary. Following Kim Jong Il’s death, the paper reports (there are some bylines, but not on every article), even animals mourned: A bird “went stiff in death” a few meters from the place where Kim Jong Il once stood; flocks of magpies circled a statue of Kim Il Sung “crying with sorrow” and bears emerged from hibernation:
At that time three bears, a mother and two cubs, appeared on the road and cried in a mournful manner.
Bears live in deep forest and sleeps in a burrow in winter. That day, however, the bears appeared on the road in the daytime, on which Kim Jong Il took his way, and roared for a long time. It was really mysterious.