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Our Favorite Kim Jong Il Stories… Strange Tourism 

Our Favorite Kim Jong Il Stories…

I’m very happy, and a little sad, but I know Kim Jong L’il will do a fine job furthering his father’s legacy of madness. In the meantime, here’s some of my favorite AO Kim Jong Il pieces: – Did you know Kim Jong Il was already a master equestrian marksman at the age of five? – At birth, the country hailed him as their new divine leader. Get the full true story of Kim Jong Il’s birth here – Kim Jong Il’s film theory writings are pretty classic. – Kim…

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Mad Costumes Across Asia Our Weird Projects Strange Tourism 

Mad Costumes Across Asia

As regular readers know, we at AsiaObscura love costumes. We’ve captured some incredible cosplay adventures here, here, here, here and even here. But it goes deeper. Almost every tourist hotspot across north-east Asia has a rack of costumes, a dramatic backdrop or two, and a whole boatload of awesomeness to dive into. All your dreams can come true, in Asia. Terra Cotta Warriors, Xi’an Egyptians, Shenzhen Winter Egyptians, Beijing Guards of Mianshan Daoist Retreat Cultural Revolution-era Mao and Lin Biao, Shenzhen Gangsters of Old Shanghai, Shanghai Stewardess and Captain of…

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America started the war, and lost it, too. Historical Wonders Offbeat Museums 

America started the war, and lost it, too.

“Look at that soldier,” said a burly Dongbei redneck, shoving past me to get a better look at the painting. “He’s on fire. He’s a real man.” His sweaty pal leaned in, and laughed. The torched soldier was still letting loose a volley of bullets from his machine gun, mowing down a row of terrified pale Americans. “That’s awesome.” They probably didn’t realize I understood what they were saying. I didn’t stick around to find out.

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French press for “Pyongyang Too” Our Weird Projects Shameless Promotion 

French press for “Pyongyang Too”

When Woo and I handed our tribute, Pyongyang Too, to graphic traveleur & comic master Guy Delisle, he seemed taken aback, confused, perplexed. “Thank you,” he muttered, unsure of what he was even looking at. (Barbara Demick–author of the DPRK expose/awesomeromance Nothing to Envy–tried to buy it.) Clearly, he later had a chance to skim it. And read it. And then pimped it out. After the jump, two recent Paris articles about the book. But now the question is, will L’Association pick it up???

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Kim Jong Il’s Remarkable Series of Books About Film Sweet Movies and Wild Books 

Kim Jong Il’s Remarkable Series of Books About Film

(Happy Kim Il Sung’s eternal birthday!) Sergei Eisenstein wrote extensively on film theory.  As did Lloyd Kaufman.  So, knowing what a film buff Kim Jong Il is, I was proud to see he’d already hopped on that bandwagon.  I recently picked up his fascinating 1987 treatise on filmmaking techniques, “The Cinema and Directing.” It’s short at only 69 pages (while he’s short at only 69– bam!), but he really knows how to pack in those anti-consumerist punches. 

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The Best Stamps from Beijing’s Incredible Stamp Museum (including 3-D North Korean stamps!) Offbeat Museums 

The Best Stamps from Beijing’s Incredible Stamp Museum (including 3-D North Korean stamps!)

Continuing on from yesterday’s post, here are my six top favorite collections from Beijing’s wonderful stamp and post museum…. Sorry for the spoiler above. But it’s just… too weird. 6. Table Tennis What’s there not to love about table tennis?  Mao adored it, so did Deng Xiaoping and Zhou Enlai.  Plus, there’s always the game to thank for opening those relations between east and west.  (Actually, I guess you could thank ping pong diplomacy for my even being here!)  You even occasionally find tables sitting hidden in the hutongs, the…

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If Amy Chua was mother to us all, maybe we could do this too… Uncategorized 

If Amy Chua was mother to us all, maybe we could do this too…

The young kids in this video practiced for the entire year, or longer, to get the show right… and it’s just remarkable. They’re just six or seven years old, if I understood correctly. The whole effort, the Mass Games, is devoted to the Dear Leader (who turned 69 this week) and the Great Leader (who died in 1994, but remains North Korea’s standing President). I only regretted that we were so far from the wildly choreographed 150,000-performer show, and didn’t have ringside seats. But this video I shot will give…

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Kim Jong Il’s childhood thoughts of America Historical Wonders 

Kim Jong Il’s childhood thoughts of America

To celebrate the 69th birthday of Kim Jong Il, this entire week is jam packed with DPRKoolness.  Today, we explore Kim Jong Il’s feelings about America.  Where do they come from?  How did he feel as a kid? Find out, below… (At the age of six) Kim Jong Il harboured a bitter hatred for the class enemies who harmed the people. While visiting farms in villages with his parents during the agrarian reform, he realized how cruelly landlords had exploited the peasants, and what a miserable life the Korean peasant…

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Kim Jong Il learns to ride horses and shoot guns! Historical Wonders 

Kim Jong Il learns to ride horses and shoot guns!

In celebration of Kim Jong Il’s 69th birthday, this week is flooded with DPRKoolness.  Today, we learn that Kim Jong Il by the age of five is a master equestrian. But what about his marksmanship? Can he handle a gun? Find out, in these excerpts from his official biography, below! Young Kim, shortly before he became a target-shooting equestrian. Kim Jong Il was very fond of running, tree-climbing, hide-and-seek, playing soldiers, horse-riding, reading, playing the organ and singing. He liked playing soldiers best, and as a commander he always led…

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Learn How to Speak North Korean Modern Ruins 

Learn How to Speak North Korean

On our recent trip to Pyongyang, we picked up this incredible guide to speaking Korean — clearly with a northern bent.  While the first half is filled with standard small-talk favorites (“How do you do!”, “I’m awfully sorry,” “It really is heroic,” and “It is Juche-oriented”), about halfway through, it gives up any sense of restraint, and becomes all about the wonders of North Korea. It’s especially interesting to note the areas that the government the publishers were clearly especially eager for visitors to notice (the coziness, the modern city,…

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The official story of Kim Jong Il’s birth… Historical Wonders 

The official story of Kim Jong Il’s birth…

Happy 69th birthday, Kim Jong Il! To celebrate this holy day, this entire week will be jam packed with DPRKoolness.  First, the true story of the birth of the Dear Leader, Kim Jong Il. These wonderful snippets — many of them truly endearing, some just funny — are from volume one of Kim Jong Il’s official English-language biography, “KIM JONG IL BIOGRAPHY” (Foreign Languages Publishing House, Pyongyang, Korea, Juche 94 (2005)), which I picked up in North Korea the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  Like a red letter edition of…

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North Korean traffic lights… um… robot ladies. Modern Ruins 

North Korean traffic lights… um… robot ladies.

North Korea The DPRK doesn’t have much money.  Or electricity. In our hotel, the Yanggakdo, the upper floors had no electricity (save for the one with a handful of Americans/Europeans staying on it).  The Koreans would get on and off the elevator, into a floor of darkness.  Shops with customers were pitch dark. The skyline at night was pitch black. So of course they’d save $ by skimming on traffic lights. Here’s their mad wonderful solution:

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North Korea frightening customs declarations form Other Obscura 

North Korea frightening customs declarations form

I still can’t get over this incredible customs document we had to fill out to enter North Korea the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  Already, our nerves were on edge…  the ancient plane was filled with smoke, we’d heard references to “American imperialist bastards,” and we were about to land in North Korea.  But… no killing devices, exciters, phones, or… published materials? 

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