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Thursday Video: Kim Jong Il's Cartoons

When not busy developing nuclear weapons or purchasing oversized garden animals, Kim Jong Il uses his spare time to cultivate a "robust" animation industry in North Korea. It ain't exactly Warner Bros.—the cartoons are designed to "implant into the minds of children warm patriotism and towering hatred for the enemy," according to official news agency KCNA. I'm not sure if that's also the underlying message in today's Thursday Video, episode 27 of the hit series A Squirrel and a Hedgehog. Politics aside, the technical and artistic skill is pretty impressive for a country that can't even feed itself:

The skill of North Korean animators is so well-regarded, in fact, that South Korean studios often farm out work to them. The industry is one of the few legitimate sources of foreign currency for Kim Jong Il's rogue regime.

Even more advanced computer animation is sometimes done in the hermit kingdom. As early as 2002 North Korea was producing episodes of the popular Lazy Cat Dinga, a Korean series evidently inspired by the American Garfield. The cat's taste for delivery pizza and lazy indulgence mean the show hasn't been broadcast in the North, which of course has neither of those things. But in South Korea, Singapore, and Malaysia, Dinga has been the smiling face of one of the few exports of a very unsmiling government:

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China hosts Big Brother ... with monkeys

Here's yet another sign that China is developing a media culture as sophisticated as any in the West:

A Chinese zoo is running its own version of the reality show 'Big Brother' where contestants live in a monkey enclosure. Last one in wins 11,888 yuan.

Given the choice of being locked in an enclosure for several days with Jade Goody or a bunch of monkeys, which would you prefer?

Six people in the northern Chinese province of Shaanxi have chosen the latter. They will live in a monkey enclosure in Qinling zoo in Xi'an with the normal primate inhabitants. The last one in will win 11,888 yuan (€1,182) and the title of honorary animal lover, the newspaper China Daily reported Thursday.