Kim Jong Il's propaganda posters

Living under a totalitarian regime requires a daily suspension of disbelief. Nowhere is that more true today than in North Korea, where otherwise ethical people contort themselves into untenable moral positions because they’ve bought into the oft-repeated notion that their country is “Paradise on Earth.”

That's just a snippet of Kim Hyun Sik's fascinating secret history of Kim Jong Il in the latest issue of FP. As the Dear Leader's former teacher, Kim offers a rare portrait of the dictator as a young man, and the suspension of reality that he demands his countrymen participate in every day.

An important element of that effort is, of course, fear, but also a bombardment of propaganda. The California Literary Review recently published a handful of incredible propaganda posters from North Korea, and you might imagine that there's a common theme: Death to the United States. More posters have recently been compiled in this volume by art collector David Heater.

Here are some of the best posters from the CLR's collection with translations:

“When provoking a war of aggression, we will hit back, beginning with the US!”
“Let’s extensively raise goats in all families!”


“Do not forget the US imperialist wolves!”


Fidel: The ref had it coming


Remember Angel Matos, the Cuban Olympic martial artist who kicked a referee in the face after he was disqualified from a bronze-medal taekwondo match? According to Fidel Castro, he was totally justified since the match was obviously fixed:

"They had tried to buy his own coach," Castro wrote in his essay, published in state media. "He could not contain himself."

Cuba is accustomed to winning gold in boxing, but settled this year for four silver and four bronze medals. Overall, Cuba took home only two gold medals, down from nine in Athens four years ago.

"I saw when the judges blatantly stole fights from two Cuban boxers in the semi-finals," Castro wrote. "Our fighters ... had hopes of winning, despite the judges, but it was useless. They were condemned beforehand."

After their ejection, Matos's coach alleged that he had been offered a bribe before the match by their Kazakh opponents.

Castro vowed big changes for Cuban sports in the four years in order to counter the "European chauvinism, judge corruption, buying of brawn and brains...and a strong dose of racism" that they were sure to encounter in 2012.

I never like to tell a fellow blogger what he should be writing about, but it seems to me that Castro would better serve Cuban sports by praising an exceptional Cuban athlete like hurdler Dayron Robles, who turned in one of Beijing's more dominating performances, rather than sticking up for an unprofessional bully like Matos.