Saturday, 16 February 2008

North Korea Souvenir Buttons

These are souvenir buttons from the North Korean city of Kaesong.
I thought you might appreciate seeing some North Korean design in practice.

I'm particularly fond of the color choice in this one above.

The central theme of these buttons is the reunification of North Korea and South Korea.

Although these buttons were purchased in Kaesong, their packaging indicates that they were originally from Pyongyang. Pyongyang and Kaesong are amongst the few North Korean cities open to foreign tourists, including South Koreans.

If you'd like to learn more about this recently started Kaesong tour, Dr. Edward Reed of the Asia Foundation has written an
insightful write-up about it.

What are your thoughts?


Alex in Hoju said...

Hmm, I'm not a fan of extending the life of the dictatorship and I feel Kim Dae Jung did this by paying Kim Jong Il over two hundred million U.S. dollars in order to bring about their historic summit. DJ has his eternal reward in his Nobel Peace Prize.

I think the Kaesong industrial complex is all about exploiting slaves- I'm also not impressed with Disney going to N.K. animators... Disney started taking some heat from human rights campaigners and was forced to make a strategic decision to set up an animation studio in India instead.

Indian animators can leave their job as they wish but North Koreans can never leave nor quit.

Also, there's proof that the huge $50 per month that the workers in Kaesong earn for working 6 days a week is heavily taxed by the North Korean gov'- it has been said that they end up with less than $30 per month.
There are two arguments: To engage and utilise North Korean workers in the hope that it brings them closer to free market economics or, to dangle the carrot of free market economics without budging/not backing down to nuclear blackmail.

Unfortunately setting up factories in the North only keeps KJI's ridiculous 1 million man army fed with these huge taxes.

Oh yeah, for some really ??? North Korean art have a look at the postage stamps depicting North Koreans slaughtering a U.S. serviceman- it's barbaric.

**Please note. There is no abuse here; the mark of a mature culture is to be able to argue the points without hurling abuse.

Helly said...

I enjoyed seeing the propaganda art coming out of NK and thanks for showing it.

In the Kaesong industrial complex, anything that is needed for manufacturing is shipped in from South Korea -- even the electricity is brought in my power lines running through the DMZ because the North has no access (or won't give access b/c it is hoarding it for the military) to adequate power. I think this small step at North/ South commerce will have an effect on the people on Kaesong, as they see with their own eyes the wealth of the SK, relative to their own situation. Perhaps, these small openings will expose the cracks in the NK regime, and one day contribute to the reunification of the Korean peninsula. When that day comes, it will be difficult time -- far more difficult than the reunification of East and West Germany -- and small steps towards building partnerships and relationships, will hopefully help ease the painful transition.

Thanks for sharing the pin designs -- it was interesting to see anything from inside NK.

Alex in Hoju said...

Well, people are going to perceive as they will and that's ultimately their right- heck, it's the most basic right.

I wrote/experienced this 2 years ago. Sorry if it's long and badly edited.

Helly said...

Like what you wrote, Alex, on everything2! ;-)

Midodok said...

Helly and Alex, thanks for your thoughts on North Korea. I learned from what you wrote here.

Alex, I didn't know about Disney and North Korea. The article you posted was also very interesting and saddening. I wonder if art or animation can be used in any way to help North Korean refugees integrate more smoothly?

Helly, I'm glad you like seeing this art. Since my blog is Korea & Animation, not South Korea & Animation, I tried really hard to find something to share here from North Korea. The only other thing I spotted was a teddy bear logo on a building as we zipped through the industrial complex. There were some workers with bags full of stuffed giraffes outside.

TrojanTrumpet said...

There is a website where North Korea is selling many of their goods online. Here is the link to the site:

Last I tried, it didn't work, maybe it is down due to high traffic or something. Here is a link to an article about the site:,2933,328095,00.html

Midodok said...

Thanks for the link, Trojan Trumpet!

Jacklyn said...

North Korea...
it is unbelievable and also annoying homework for us.
Why don't you sort it out?

subrock99 said...

wow~!your concern of noth-korea design impressed me. because i'm korean. i've never been to north-korea, but you have been.right? it's great~!!

Anonymous said...

i'm from lisbon - portugal and i'm try to establish contact w people from korea.