PYONGYANG — In response to strengthened sanctions in light of North Korea’s latest rocket launch, Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un released a statement making clear his country’s intentions to continue testing out its long-range rockets. It also will test another underground nuclear detonation, which is crucial to the process of designing a weapon suitable for fitting to a missile warhead.
Considering the cyclical nature that has come to characterize disarmament talks with the Stalinist regime, the announcement comes as no surprise to State Department officials. The means of delivering the message, however, were unexpected: a nearly 8-minute music video starring Kim Jong-un and using over 20,000 extras.
Entitled ‘Pyongyang Style’ – in reference to the megahit ‘Gangnam Style’ by South Korean artist PSY, which hit well over a billion views on YouTube last year – the video features many of the same sequences and stylizings that had made the original so popular.
“It’s bigger though,” producer and industry critic Martin Zetzer explained today in an interview with the LA Times. “For every shot they take, there are at least fifty more dancers, or explosions five times as big as the ones in PSY’s video.” The music itself strays from simple K-Pop beats, though, featuring a full military chorus, guitars, and a cacaphony of drums. “I think they’re trying too hard,” Zetzer concludes. “It’s too long and, I don’t know, soviet-realist.”
The video is also notably chaste, avoiding the gyrating buttocks and risque lyrics of ‘Gangnam’. In its place, middle-aged men in uniform strut their stuff while singing about martial greatness through discipline.
It is one of many escalations in the sixty-year rivalry between the two Korean nations, but is the first time the conflict has taken a musical turn. The video was released on YouTube Thursday, and so far has garnered over forty-million hits. Pyongyang has indicated it hopes the video will top ‘Gangnam Style’ by the month’s end.
“It’s a bizarre move, but not completely out of keeping with other stunts the regime has pulled,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney, in a statement made shortly after the video’s release. Last July the government misappropriated the likenesses of several Disney characters during a television broadcast, with Mickey Mouse standing alongside Kim Jong-un. No official reason was given for the action, though experts believed it to be a sign that North Korea was warming its citizens to the idea of building closer ties with the West.
Perhaps undermining the threat implied by the video, Jay Carney was moved to some degree of levity. “I think the biggest surprise is that they found a decent rhyme for ‘aggressive proliferation’.”