Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now? Hold on... Can you hear me NOW? The reception's no good here... I'm driving through a gulag.

The impoverished and hermetically sealed fearocracy (that's rule by fear) known as North Korea is upgrading to 3G network cellular service.

The service is being implemented by Egyptian telecom giant Orascom, not Verizon, so North Korea will still be full of dead zones for quite some time. (In case you missed it, that's dark political humor; you see, North Korea's leadership routinely uses torture, imprisonment of whole families, and summary executions as a way to terrorize its own population in order to keep them under control. Hmm... maybe terrocracy would be a better word to coin here.)

But don't expect the average Cho up in North Korea to be using the latest iPhone or Blackberry (give a North Korean prole an anything-berry and he'd probably eat it). My guess is that upgraded cellular service will only mean two things: North Korean authorities will be more efficient at brutal authoritarianism, and Kim Jong-il will have an easier time downloading porn while on the road when he's visiting cooperatives and factories to dispense his wisdom.

But if you do find an average North Korean with a new 3G phone, remember these common shortcuts for texting in North Korea:
screaming out loud

rolling on the floor being tortured

rolling on the floor because I'm being electrocuted

mindlessly shouting praises about Dear Leader Kim Jong-il


I've been beaten so badly by the police that I can't open my eyes.

family all together in political prison

No matter what I just saw, I'm keeping my effing mouth shut!

No matter what I just saw, I'm keeping my effing mouth shut! (with glasses)


I was keeping my mouth shut, but they clubbed me in the head anyway, just to make sure I kept it shut.

Those bastards broke my glasses! What the hell's the matter with them?! I was going to keep quiet!

Those shitheads hit me again! As soon as I defect, I'm getting LASIK.

' ' '
I've consumed three grains of rice today.

' ' '/7
I'm down to three grains of rice per week.

' ' '/30
(Don't make me explain this one; it's just too sad to think about.)


My neighbor has starved to death.

o<-<  >->o  o<-<  >->o
The authorities came to the village to teach us a lesson about what happens if we smuggle in DVDs of South Korean television dramas from across the border with China.

I'm searching the ground for anything even remotely edible.

Please, please, please, for the love of God, come and save us.
[In all seriousness, life in North Korea is not a joke for most people. The ruling elite has a stranglehold on the general population which lives in fear of Pyongyang because of what would happen to not just them but their families if they were to show dissent. Humor can sometimes highlight how we ignore an ongoing human catastrophe or find ourselves powerless to do anything about it, but it should never be used to allow us to mentally dismiss what's going on.] 

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