Greatest Internet Thing of the Day

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

The North Korean government has an official Cafe Press shop. As you can see below, you can buy things like the socialist realist image of one of the brave sons of the glorious people’s revolution against the vicious imperialist dogs of capitalism . . . emblazoned on a case for your iPhone. As someone on Twitter put it, I’d be tempted to buy some of the stuff—just for the awesome irony of it all—if it didn’t my money would be going to a regime of murderous tyrants.

Maybe someone could set up a mirror store with the same images on the same products, only the proceeds go to some sort of North Korea dissident group.

 

 

 

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37 Responses to “Greatest Internet Thing of the Day”

  1. #1 |  Wonks Anonymous | 

    Unfortunately, the North Korean government would not permit the existence of any dissident group inside its borders. Even an apolitical group I guess.

  2. #2 |  Radley Balko | 

    Well yeah, I was thinking maybe there’s a group of defectors. But maybe such a thing doesn’t exist.

  3. #3 |  Brandon | 

    “Maybe someone could set up a mirror store with the same images on the same products, only the proceeds go to some sort of North Korea dissident group.”

    Ironically, this would probably bring the wrath of the US government, a *slightly* less murderous, tyrannical regime, down on them.

  4. #4 |  omar | 

    Ironically, this would probably bring the wrath of the US government, a *slightly* less murderous, tyrannical regime, down on them.

    I’d like to see lawyers representing the DPRK bring a copyright claim in US courts. Really, I’d like to see it.

  5. #5 |  omar | 

    Sadly, I don’t see the ubiquitous cafe-press thong with our Dear Leader’s face stamped across the front.

  6. #6 |  GeoffBr | 

    Maybe the post is tongue in cheek, but are we sure this isn’t some private party taking advantage of the opportunity? Would the North Korean government really label their merchandise “Propaganda 1,” “Propaganda 2,” etc.?

  7. #7 |  SJE | 

    Don’t forget that the US is still technically at war with North Korea, and so I question whether (a) trading on this site is “aiding the enemy” (b) whether a mirror site would be able to claim that they should not be prosecuted.

    The Cafe Press Site is technically owned by the Friendship Association, and not the DPRK government. I’d like to find a way to “pierce the veil” (in corporate speak) and show that this is really a front for the DPRK.

    My favored approach: get a dissident group to set up a site that uses all these items but with some additional political comment that converts the items to protected political speech. My favorite: a golf shirt with something like “I shot 25 holes in one at the Pyongyang open.”

    If anyone wants to do this, I’d be happy to get my law firm to see if I can get it done as a pro-bono project. I really really hate the DPRK.

  8. #8 |  SJE | 

    Omar: the copyright claim can be easily routed by making it about satire or a political comment. THAT would not survive in court.

  9. #9 |  SJE | 

    OK, I correct myself. It is legal to trade with North Korea since 1999. Still, I see nothing wrong with doing everything to mess with this cafe press site.

  10. #10 |  Chuchundra | 

    Are we sure it’s really the official NK site and not just a bunch of pranksters?

    The images are labelled Propaganda##. Would the NK government label their own images propaganda?

  11. #11 |  Mattocracy | 

    All this stuff is probably made in China.

  12. #12 |  Dante | 

    Capitalist-haters set up capitalistic enterprise to earn money for anti-capitalist agenda……

    The …. irony …. it hurts ….. head explodin’ …….

  13. #13 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Yeah, the last thing I would want is for my money to go to a bunch of murderous tyrants. Anyone have the latest count of how many wars North Korea has engaged in over the last few decades? Speaking of giving money to murderous tyrants, my tax bill was unusually high this year…

  14. #14 |  albatross | 

    They’re going to have to up their game if they want to compete with Ché.

  15. #15 |  Radley Balko | 

    Are we sure it’s really the official NK site and not just a bunch of pranksters?

    It’s linked from North Korea’s official English-language website:

    http://www.korea-dpr.com/

  16. #16 |  Doubleu | 

    I know how some of you get upset at the mention of FoxNews but this might lead to info on dissident groups.
    http://www.foxnews.com/world/2012/04/13/inside-north-korea-concentration-camp/

  17. #17 |  MH | 

    “Anyone have the latest count of how many wars North Korea has engaged in over the last few decades? Speaking of giving money to murderous tyrants, my tax bill was unusually high this year”

    North Korea is in perpetual war with its own people. And if you don’t think the services provided by the United States government are worthwhile, you’re free to… oh wait.

  18. #18 |  MassHole | 

    Aren’t cell phones illegal in North Korea? Maybe having the propaganda case for your iphone will only result in only you going to the gulag, instead of the whole family.

  19. #19 |  SJE | 

    “Aren’t cell phones illegal in North Korea?” Pretty much everything is illegal if it isn’t permitted. According to at least one escaped North Koreans, a kid with a few kernals of corn in his pocket was beaten to death for stealing.

  20. #20 |  John Jenkins | 

    Everyone should really understand that this is actually Radley fishing for some DPRK swag for his birthday, which is today, which he forgot to mention. Buy Radley some DPRK swag (or Colombian hookers, whatever)!

  21. #21 |  pdizzle | 

    The word “propaganda” does not necessarily mean “political lies” or something like that. It simply refers to something designed to propagate an idea. All political speech directed at a mass audience is propaganda. The connotion of “propaganda” being dishonest is historically recent, and may not survive translation back and forth from Korean to English. So yes, it is totally plausible that they would refer to their own propaganda as “propaganda”.

  22. #22 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Oops. I forgot. Until the U.S. is as bad as some other country (take your pick) we should be thankful for how wonderful we have it. By that logic, I should be thankful that my money is merely going to kill thousands instead of millions.

    And if we’re not thankful, we are free to leave and go live in the a worse country.

    I must have just walked onto a Fox News set.

  23. #23 |  Deoxy | 

    And if we’re not thankful, we are free to leave and go live in the a worse country.

    I believe that is generally the point of such comparisons, actually – the number of people leaving (even with all this BS going on) is still several orders of magnitude lower than those arriving (much less those who WANT to come here but can’t).

    If every place you could possibly live is a covered in stinking excrement, might as well live in spot with the least excrement, eh?

    Of course, actually trying to CLEAN the place you live is a good idea, too – not saying that we shouldn’t go for improvement.

  24. #24 |  pichachu | 

    You know what’s weird? I can go to google maps and just a little ways north and east of Pyongyang is one of Kim Jong Il’s palaces and there’s this big swirly looking thing in the yard-it’s an amusement park sized waterslide. Wouldn’t that be an awesome picture? he dear leader going down that waterslide.

  25. #25 |  pichachu | 

    You know who’s not thankful to be an American? This guy:

    “A Mexican citizen, now well past retirement age, grew up in a tiny town in Mexico near the U.S. border. At the time of his birth, the town lacked any medical facilities, so when his mother went into labor, his parents drove to the nearest hospital, which happened to be just inside the U.S. border.

    Fast forward 70 or so years, and this gentleman was longing for some relief from hot Mexican summers. So, he did what countless other wealthy Mexicans have done – he purchased a condo in San Diego. At closing, he encountered a strange anomaly. The closing documents listed him as a U.S. citizen. He tried to correct what he believed to be a mistake, but the broker assured him the documents were correct. Since he was born in the United States, he was indeed a U.S. citizen.

    Our hero thought that was the end of it, but when he arrived in San Diego for the summer, he received a notice from the Internal Revenue Service. The notice informed him that he was obligated to file U.S. tax returns. And there was no record of him filing a U.S. tax return for the preceding three years. The notice invited him to respond immediately.

    A few days later, he drove over to the local IRS office to see if he could resolve the situation. After a brief conversation, he was shocked to learn that the IRS had already commenced an examination. The agent started using terms such as “willful failure to file,” “criminal penalties,” and “jeopardy assessment.”

    At this point, our hero hired a criminal tax defense attorney. He spent about $100,000 in legal fees, and eventually received a notice from the IRS informing him that he wouldn’t face criminal penalties. Still, he had to pay 25% of the peak value of his unreported non-U.S. accounts for the period 2003-2010. Unfortunately for him, the value of these accounts fell about 35% in the global economic turmoil of 2008-2009. The accounts that were once worth $2 million are now worth about $1.3 million. Nonetheless, he paid a $500,000 penalty to avoid criminal prosecution.

    In addition, he had to file six years of past due tax returns and information returns disclosing his interests in Mexican corporations and other Mexican entities. These returns had to be prepared according to U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Procedures (GAAP), which means that the Mexican financial statements for each year had to be converted to U.S. GAAP. That expense cost him an additional $50,000.

    To tally things up: our hero’s total cost of accidental U.S. citizenship: $650,000. Total benefit of U.S. citizenship: none.

    Needless to say, this Mexican gentleman filed a formal petition with the State Department to surrender his U.S. citizenship and expatriate. That eliminates any future U.S. tax or reporting obligations on non-U.S. income or property, but doesn’t affect his past obligations.”

    the rest here: http://lewrockwell.com/nestmann/nestmann43.1.html

  26. #26 |  pichachu | 

    I wonder if you bought something from that North Korea shop would the US government indict you for material support of terrorism? Or maybe drone strike you?

  27. #27 |  Bill Poser | 

    As with many other things in North Korea, cell phones are not available to the majority of the people but are to an elite minority, so there is a potential market for cell phone accessories in North Korea, albeit a small one.

  28. #28 |  el coronado | 

    @#25 –

    Awww, what a tale of woe there. Just one quick note: That hospital that just happened to be “just inside the US border”? The one that Mom went to ’cause “there were no medical facilities there where they lived in the tiny village juuuust across the border from a city/town large enough to have a hospital”?

    A someone who was born & raised “just inside the US border from Mexico”, I call bullshit. I say there’s a 97%+ chance that Mama-san went to that hospital for the express purpose of getting that kid US citizenship, and a 98%+ chance she never paid the bill: in fact, had a good laugh with the whole family when the bill came, and then shitcanned it.

    OK, I’ll admit that maybe those folks were among the 2% or so who don’t go to hospitals “just inside the border” (In El Paso, they used to – and maybe still do – send buses into Mexico to *pick up* knocked-up Mexican gals about to pop and **bring them over** to their hospital to give birth)(“Bienvenidos a EEUU!”)(“Gratis!”)(and the hospital, presumably, then got paid them some delicious federal funds) maybe they *weren’t* among the 98%….but that’s not the way to bet.

    Lastly, let’s ask ourselves why a man from a *Mexican* family rich to have “interests in Mexican corporations [and] other Mexican entities”; a family rich enough to spend $650K to stay out of US prison, (and there are _far_ fewer Mexicans who’ve got that kind of scratch than Americans, remember) why can’t a family like that manage to make sure he’s born into a Mexican hospital? Why might that be, I wonder. Por Que No??

  29. #29 |  pichachu | 

    “I say there’s a 97%+ chance that Mama-san went to that hospital for the express purpose of getting that kid US citizenship”

    Entirely possible I suppose but what of that? The baby didn’t ask to be a US citizen and never lived here before or asked anythign of this country so why should he be forced to be one?

  30. #30 |  Maria | 

    http://www.korea-dpr.com/images/kfa_delegation/february_2012/

    The official 403 forbidden error page of the juche-oriented socialist state which embodies the idea and leadership of Comrade Kim II Sung, the founder of the Republic and the father of socialist Korea.

    My IP is on a list somewhere now isn’t it?

  31. #31 |  Frank Hummel | 

    Just to set the record straight here. Propaganda is not a bad word in communist countries. In the Party hierarchy, at the top or any other branch, the second in command after the chairman (party secretary) is the “propaganda subsecretary”. You usually wanna keep out of his/her way.

  32. #32 |  Davis | 

    I’d like to see lawyers representing the DPRK bring a copyright claim in US courts. Really, I’d like to see it.

    Since the DPRK is not a signatory to the Berne Convention (the international copyright treaty), it’s also not at all clear that they would have much success trying to claim copyright protection here.

    Though to be fair, I don’t think U.S. copyright law even takes this sort of insane possibility into account (i.e., a non-signatory trying to claim copyright, especially a government rather than an individual creator). There are so many difficult legal issues that would potentially arise here that I’d bet any U.S. court would jump onto any pretense for tossing the case out.

  33. #33 |  Davis | 

    Since the DPRK is not a signatory to the Berne Convention (the international copyright treaty), it’s also not at all clear that they would have much success trying to claim copyright protection here.

    Aw hell, I was looking at an incorrect list of signatories — DPRK is a signatory. That’s too bad, this would have made for a fascinating legal problem.

  34. #34 |  Chicagojon | 

    “—if it didn’t my money would be going to a regime of murderous tyrants.”

    I suppose you’re proud to buy things with a ‘Made in USA’ label and flag on them? No blood on those colors, surely.

  35. #35 |  KristenS | 

    Oh good…more crappy ironic shit for hipsters to wear. *rolling eyes*

  36. #36 |  Steve Verdon | 

    What would be truly ironic is if the imagery is all copyrighted. Using capitalism to make money to fund their socialist paradise where the people actually consider eating each other….lovely….

  37. #37 |  jb | 

    …a 97%+ chance … a 98%+ chance ….the 2% or so …the 98%….
    I’m thinking you’re 100% fucktard.

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