All hail Kim Jong Un? Perhaps it’s the result of the country’s young new leader, or perhaps this was part of the plan all along, but the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea — a.k.a. North Korea — has launched a new English-language propaganda site. And while the rhetoric is as crazy as it has always been, the design is…well, pretty good actually.
It’s not clear where the site was designed, and a WHOIS lookup returns the true owner of the domain has been concealed, though it appears the site is currently hosted in Denmark. Although it is apparently the official English-language website of the North Korean government, it is connected with and seemingly operated by the Korean Friendship Association, a sort of international fan club for North Korea that anyone can join. In fact, it’s very easy to join, according to the site:
In order to join the KFA, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with your complete name, address, telephone, birth date and e-mail. The membership is totally free.
Members can also purchase a KFA membership card for 50 Euros ($63).
The site is full of information about North Korea, from details about the country’s flag to information on how to travel there for business or pleasure. It also has a photo gallery and an online Cafepress shop where one can purchase DPRK swag. In fact, the whole thing looks pretty normal, until you start reading any of the text. Then, of course, you come across things like this:
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is a genuine workers’ state in which all the people are completely liberated from exploitation and oppression. The workers, peasants, soldiers and intellectuals are the true masters of their destiny and are in a unique position to defend their interests.
So the DPRK is selling the same old crazy in a slick new package. I can’t imagine this will be a particularly effective soft power tool for the Hermit Kingdom; on the other hand, it’s been a hot topic on Twitter all morning so I could be wrong. There do appear to still be a few bugs in the system, though. For example, this page is supposed to be a new memorial section for Kim Il Sung, but it’s actually just a dead link.
Either way, perhaps China’s government could take the hint and ask the North Koreans to design new official websites for China while they’re at it. Most Chinese government websites are a nightmare of outdated and mostly terrible design.
Update: As noted by Terence Ng in the comments, it seems this “new design” is actually based on a $15 template. At least they have decent taste?