Comparing North Korean and British Birthday Celebrations

“It was a birthday celebration, but it felt more like a cult meeting in adoration of the leader. Row upon row of soldiers and civilians … marched in a minutely choreographed formation for two hours,” reported the BBC during a recent report from North Korea.

But the accompanying video does not pan over lavish celebrations held in Pyongyang to mark the 70th anniversary of the Korean Workers’ Party. Instead it has been dubbed over London‘s flag-waving birthday celebrations for Queen Elizabeth II, the UK’s unelected head of state.

“A signal of unity, fearsome missiles means they [are] ready to fight any kind of war,” the BBC’s Seoul correspondent Stephen Evans goes on to say in the BBC clip … But Evans’ voice-over fits just as comfortably with footage of a flyover by the Red Arrows – the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team who are regularly deployed on big national occasions, peppering London’s sky in patriotic red, white and blue smoke.

But the video mashup – first uploaded to YouTube last week – is a humorous take on the UK’s fascination with North Korea, while showing up how the country’s media are seemingly blinded to our own national eccentricities. Of course, the comparison is crude: the UK is a healthy democracy whilst the DPRK has only known leaders from one adulated family, the Kims.

In the YouTube edit, adoring citizens are shown singing and waving the union jack in front of the Queen and her offspring, while the voice-over describes footage of North Koreans celebrating under the watchful (and forceful) eye of their authoritarian government.

“It does arguably highlight an uncomfortable truth about idolization,” wrote the Independent.

[Read full Guardian article]

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