Status Updates from North Korea

Some of the smartest people in the country work at DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, located in Northern Virginia. Their mission is to use advanced technology to come up with unusual weapons, like super broccoli, which could cause an enemy statesman to fart to death; or a strategically modified shampoo which could grow breasts on a hated military despot, while still giving lustrous thick hair.

These people think outside the box.

Kim Jong Il, the ‘Most Exalted and Gorgeously Coifed Leader’ of North Korea, has created a similar organization in his impoverished country. The North Korean Research Advanced Projects Agency (NoKRAPA) has been given the responsibility to develop weapons to be used on its enemies, especially if they are within sling-shot range.  So far, the organization’s only success story has been its “bird brain death ray” weapon, designed to kill innocent birds (see Jan 4 post), which then fall on enemy heads.

It was a team of MIT graduates at DARPA that identified North Korea as the source of the demise of thousands of birds around the globe. Some thought that the bonked blackbirds in Beebe had suffered a physical trauma, or had been too close to an emission of gastrointestinal gas suffered by Oprah Winfrey, after she ate seven garlic and beef breakfast burritos, smothered in Velveeta.

Documents smuggled secretly by stealthy sources reveal that North Korea is working on even more insidious weapons befitting the Internet Age. Working on the premise that Facebook now has something in the neighborhood of 550 million users worldwide, and that all but around four of those are enemies, NoKRAPA hopes to produce a social networking weapon.

They plan to add a program to Facebook, so that when users are perusing the status of friends or updating their own, they will succumb to minute alterations in the computer display, and fall into a hypnotic trance. At that point, subliminal messages will be sent, exhorting Facebook users to send things Pyongyang desperately needs, like cash, Napoleon brandy and Ferraris.

There has been an unexpected backlash to Facebook in North Korea. It turns out that Kim Jong Eun, Kim Jong Il’s son and heir-apparent — his mother was either a North Korean Olympic pole-dancer or a member of the official court belly dancing troupe — has become a devoted user of Facebook. The international press notes that in recent months the certainty that he’ll take over North Korea’s leadership has declined precipitously due to his status updates that are less than flattering to his mother country.

He has even started a Facebook group, “North Korea Sucks”, which lists him as its only member. He whines that, unlike in Switzerland, where he went to boarding school, there is no championship golf course just a few short steps from his palace, and in Pyongyang, he can’t drive his Lamborghini 150 mph, because the narrow and rutted roads there are only suited for small carts pulled by squirrels. But there are no squirrels, since the starving populace has eaten them all.

In addition, his birthday was last Saturday, January 8th — he is either 27 or 14 ½, according to official state news sources — but according to his Facebook posts his birthday was not given a sufficiently royal treatment. In North Korea, the birthdays of its leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il are the nation’s most important holidays. Citizens celebrate by reaching down, grabbing a handful of dirt, and throwing it into the air in a festive manner. Kim Jong Eun was so disappointed with his birthday that he posted a message saying that “my dad didn’t even send me a birthday card!”

Some North Korea watchers speculate that Kim Jong Eun’s prestige has dropped precisely because his Facebook posts are not in line with Pyongyang’s expectations, and because at an important dinner with Chinese dignitaries, he did not seem to know how to handle his chopsticks, and asked instead for a fork.

The news event that might be the last nail in Kim Jong Eun’s PR coffin comes from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. A pudgy young Asian man was seen making the rounds there while surrounded by burly, Asian bodyguards. An official from Samsung, the South Korean electronics manufacturing giant, nudged me in the ribs and whispered, “That’s him! That’s Kim Jong Eun!” This official, who did not wish to be identified, told me that, as part of the cult of unswerving leadership, North Koreans are required to wear lapel pins depicting the face of either Kim Il Sung or Kim Jong Il, 24 hours a day, whether they’re sleeping or even taking a bath in the nearest river.

We were stunned to see that instead of an officially sanctioned pin, he was wearing a Facebook lapel pin. Maybe he’s not ready to assume command just yet.

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