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Posts Tagged ‘Communists’

North Korea Announces Execution with the Craziest Press Release You Will Ever Read

Kim-jong-un_2100220a

“I wanna hold your hand…”

You may have heard that the other jolly fat man, Kim Jong Un, ordered the execution of his own uncle this week for “treason”, but you really have to read the press release that the North Korean media wrote to let the rest of the world know that they are completely insane. Our favorite copywriting wins via the Korean Central News Agency:

“…people throughout the country broke into angry shouts that a stern judgment of the revolution should be meted out to the anti-party, counter-revolutionary factional elements.

…a special military tribunal of the DPRK Ministry of State Security was held on December 12 against traitor for all ages Jang Song Thaek.”

It was a public execution “for all ages!” Get ready for a whole lotta crazy after the jump, emphasis ours.

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Chinese Government to Tourists: Don’t Pick Your Nose or Pee in the Pool

OK.The Chinese government doesn’t just want to present its own best face to tourists; it also wants its tourists to present their best faces to the rest of the world.

This Wednesday the China National Tourism Administration released a 64-page book—complete with illustrations—designed to help its citizens overcome the perception that they may not be the world’s most gracious guests when traveling abroad. This latest public service campaign has turned a few heads in the West mainly because we can’t quite imagine our own government issuing such edicts.

Here are some of the key takeaways from this epic PSA:

  • Don’t sneeze or pick your nose or teeth in public
  • Keep your nose hair neatly trimmed
  • Don’t steal airplane life jackets
  • Don’t pee in the pool
  • Don’t force locals to take your picture
  • Make sure women wear earrings when in Spain lest they “be considered effectively naked”
  • Don’t steal any saltwater animals if you go swimming in the ocean

And our favorites:

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Meet Communist North Korea’s Go-To PR Guy

What’s the toughest PR challenge you can imagine? Representing an institution charged with sheltering child abusers? Defending a multinational corporation for mistakes that cost others their lives and livelihoods? How about presenting the very best of a murderous dictatorship to an outside world that firmly rejects every attempt to make nice?

We were fascinated by today’s Christian Science Monitor profile of the man Kim Jong-un hired to perform public relations duties for the People’s Republic of North Korea. That still-mysterious country is one of the few things on the planet Earth that remains less popular than the Kardashian family.

His name is Alejandro Cao de Benós, he’s a Spanish man with “aristocratic roots”, and his official blog features a lot of stories about “Corea del Norte”. What else? He appears to have been an enthusiastic North Korean sympathizer for some time, and as the only non-Korean employee of the nation’s foreign ministry, it’s his job to travel around the world, speak to various media outlets and try (in vain) to convince people that Kim Jong-un isn’t as bad as we all seem to think he is. Cao de Benós’s only real messaging strategy is to insist that “everything you’ve heard is a lie” and that every supposedly bad thing North Korea does is in direct response to an aggressive action from the West (aka America).

Oof.

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China’s New President Works to Rebrand the Communist Party

Xi Jinping (courtesy of the Telegraph)Last year we wrote about the Chinese government’s “censor and deny” approach to damage control after a New York Times story about the considerable wealth of prime minister and supposed “man of the people” Wen Jibao threatened to damage his political fortunes. Here’s an even more interesting story on the role of PR in Chinese politics–and this is legitimate public relations, not the underground blackmail and bribery industry.

As expected, former VP Xi Jinping officially assumed the presidency after receiving a ridiculous 99.8% of the vote in The People’s Congress. Xi posed as a reformer, and his primary goal is to convince the growing number of Chinese citizens who aren’t happy with their government that his administration is more concerned with improving quality of life than lining its own pockets.

In order to do this, he’s taking some steps right out of the political PR playbook that will look familiar to anyone who has suffered through an American presidential campaign.

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Weird PR: North Korea’s Kim Jong-un Gives Free Candy to Babies

Kim Jong-un North KoreaToday brings an interesting answer to that age-old question: How do murderous dictators endear themselves to members of their adoring/oppressed public (beyond the usual death threats, endless propaganda reels, and incredible displays of nationalistic pride like this one)?

North Korea‘s Kim Jong-un takes a novel approach to the challenge of better serving the people who never directly supported him in the first place: today his nation’s state-run media let the world know that he sent every single North Korean child 2.2 pounds of candy in celebration of his own mysterious birthday (no one can agree on his age).

While this tradition is unusual, it’s nothing new: it began with the current dictator’s own grandfather. The logic behind the strategy is perverse, but we have no doubt that these yearly gift baskets serve as bright spots for the citizens of a nation as restricted and suppressed as North Korea.

Now we’re curious about Google‘s “don’t be evil” co-founder Eric Schmidt, who arrived in the world’s evil-est country today alongside former New Mexico governor and United Nations ambassador Bill Richardson. What’s he doing there, exactly?

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North Korean Archaeologists Re-Discover Ancient Unicorn’s Lair

UnicornBefore we leave for the weekend we feel an obligation to share what is, without even the slightest doubt, the very best press release of the week (if not the year).

This one comes to us from the tragically, hilariously misnamed Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and its news agency, KCNA (don’t even bother clicking on the link if you want to retain your sanity).

According to the amazing release we’ve captured via screenshot below, archaeologists representing the DPRK and its Very Important History Institute “have recently reconfirmed a lair of the unicorn rode by King Tongmyong, founder of the Koguryo Kingdom (B.C. 277-A.D. 668).” Note the use of the word “reconfirmed”–it was there all along, but they just had to make sure.

Does it get better? Oh yes.

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People’s Daily Runs With Kim Jong-un ‘Sexiest Man’ Spoof

Kim Jong-unThe People’s Daily unambiguously describes itself as “the official newspaper of the Communist Party of China”. Based on that description and a few handy stereotypes, you might expect the rag to be a humorless collection of articles offering nothing but effusive praise for the nation and its single-party government—and you’d be right!

Today, however, we also note that the editors of the Daily seem to be missing a crucial snark detector. A quick glance at the site’s English landing page reveals a feature based on the recent Onion spoof naming North Korean Communist dictator-by-birth Kim Jong-un as “The Sexiest Man Alive”, reprinted with nary a hint of irony.

The best part about it? The editors didn’t just run the story—they added their own 55-page slideshow to highlight all the best things about their favorite ally/supreme leader/murderous despot.

Did they really not get the joke? The fact that they reprinted this ridiculous quote in full makes us wonder:

“With his devastatingly handsome, round face, his boyish charm, and his strong, sturdy frame, this Pyongyang-bred heartthrob is every woman’s dream come true. Blessed with an air of power that masks an unmistakable cute, cuddly side, Kim made this newspaper’s editorial board swoon with his impeccable fashion sense, chic short hairstyle, and, of course, that famous smile.”

And here’s a picture of him riding horseback, because that’s just the kind of thing sexy men do.

Kim Jong-un again

Soviet-Style PR: Firm Plants Positive Stories on Kremlin’s Behalf

President Vladamir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev A few weeks ago we reviewed the Communist Party’s unique approach to PR damage control; today we observe the ways in which the Party ensures positive coverage in foreign media outlets.

In short: they pay for it.

We’re not talking about traditional Party mouthpieces like Pravda and The People’s Daily. This matter concerns stories carried by familiar American media outlets like The Huffington Post and CNBC, which recently posted op-eds by “independent” businessmen proclaiming Russia to be “Europe’s Bright Light of Growth”, calling the government’s approach to the worldwide recession “a model of restraint” and naming Russia “the most dynamic place on the continent.”

An investigation by ProPublica, a research organization dedicated to facilitating “Journalism in the Public Interest”, found that Ketchum planted these complimentary pieces in order to improve Western perceptions of two-time Russian President Vladamir Putin’s government and the nation’s business culture. Ketchum, one of the world’s largest PR firms and PRWeek‘s 2012 agency of the year, has represented the Kremlin since 2006.

Ketchum’s filings with the US Justice Department reveal that, while the company’s employees did not write the stories themselves, they did reach out to the authors and arrange for the placement of their op-eds on prominent websites in order to encourage “foreign investments” in Russian companies.

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The Communist Party Guide to Damage Control

We’re going to make a somewhat bold assessment: If the People’s Republic of China weren’t a one-party country, the ruling Communist bureaucracy’s PR efforts would not be particularly effective. Party spokesmen (and they’re always men) have no discernible sense of humor, and they aren’t too skilled in the art of nuance–their public proclamations have all the subtlety of a sledgehammer.

An interesting study in Communist Party PR unfurled this week. For the past year or so, Chinese politics has revolved around the sort of organized transfer of power that occurs once every decade; most observers believe that current President Hu Jintao will hand the reins off to his VP, Xi Jinping.

The transfer, already plagued by the arrest of top official Bo Xilal and his wife on charges of fraud and murder, ran into even more controversy thanks to a recent New York Times expose focused on the finances of prime minister Wen Jibao‘s family–a proudly humble clan that has somehow managed to accumulate billions of dollars in assets over recent years via assorted business alliances.

Like the Wen family’s finances, the Party’s damage control plan is all over the map: First censors blocked web access to the Times site throughout China; then they scanned the popular Chinese Twitter equivalent Sina Weibo in order to scrub all references to the number 2.7 billion (the supposed financial worth of the PM’s family). After relying on the government to implement a “nothing to see here” approach, members of the Wen family pivoted, directly addressing a story that they’d previously tried to erase and threatening legal action against the Times for reporting on “corporate and regulatory records” that were available to the public. What’s more, the family never directly addressed any of the story’s particulars–and the Times report did not allege any sort of illegal activity.

This completely ineffective response to the scandal hints at the complexity of Chinese politics: in an unelected government, public perception is invaluable because brute force can only accomplish so much.

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