Yes, Kim Jong-un's state news agencies have been even more absurd than usual lately as the young leader gets pumped up to stoke the flames with South Korea, and puts outs videos of America in flames. But, no, North Korea did not film, produce, and distribute a four-and-a-half-minute propaganda film depicting the harrowing lives of Americans forced to eat snow and live in tents as the country around them collapses. The film in question surfaced on Wednesday morning at The Daily Telegraph, from which it spread to outlets like BuzzFeed, The Week, and Wired. (We took note of its possible inauthenticity here.) By Wednesday evening, The Huffington Post had debunked the film as the work of London-based travel writer Alun Hill, who took what is apparently an authentic video produced in North Korea and replaced its audio with his own (satirical) narration:
The first frame of the short film features Korean text that Hill jokingly translates as "How Americans Live Today," when in reality it says, "Capitalist Society Growing Darker," according to a HuffPost translation of the text. Furthermore, the Korean narration of the video at the 1:29 mark describes snow and cold temperatures. But Hill's satirical translation describes Americans eating songbirds to survive and refers to them as "yummy."
Here's the video:
Hill, who produces iReport videos for CNN and sells self-published travel books on Amazon, claims the the original video was produced by the Korean Central News Agency to document the decline of democracy in Europe. (As the Huffington Post notes, one scene depicts a train station in Bucharest, Romania.) So while the principal images are real, the story behind their arrangement is not — a technique that its maker appears to have used before.
A quick look at Hill's YouTube page, the banner of which celebrates "3 Million Views!", indicates that Hill has indulged his ongoing fascination with North Korea by producing bizarrely edited (and seemingly satirical) videos about the secretive country. He seems to be on a roll, too. On Thursday morning he uploaded one called "North Korea Army Build Mass Grave For American Military In Middle of Pyongyang, Designed By Kim Jong Un Personally":
From the video's description:
Some 22,000 male and female members of the Korean Peoples Army have been taken off frontline war work this week - to construct a huge grave and memorial, designed by Kim Jong Un, in the very center of Pyongyang, the nation's capital.
But it's not for themselves, as you might have expected.
No, this is for the thousands of incoming American Military personnel who are widely expected to die in one of the bloodiest battles the world has yet seen.
Stephen Colbert, you've got competition.