A propaganda photo of North Korea"s reclusive leader Kim Jong-Il posed in a area of grain via a group of cadres in Pyongyang, Nov. 17, 2004.

You are watching: Kim jong il looking at things book


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We all look at things. Loved ones, website traffic lights, television, the skies — you name it, we look at it. Alengthy via thinking, and also the aware use of tools, looking at things is an integral facet of the humale experience. In North Korea, this elemental, quotidian task has actually been transcreated, ingeniously, right into a propaganda maker for the country’s routine. The beauty of that transformation, meanwhile, is that one culture’s propaganda is another’s source of humor, and wonder.

Case in point: the well-known, uncannily simple blog, “Kim Jong Il Looking at Things.” Launched in October 2010 by a Lisbon-based art director called João Rocha, KJILAT is nopoint more and nopoint less than what it purports to be: a collection of photographs of the Dear Leader looking at points.


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A selection of these compelling photos have currently been publimelted in a book by Jean Boîte Éditions: Kim Jong Il Looking at Things. The images, initially spread by the main Korean Central News Agency, depict the late North Korean leader, always accompanied by an entourage of compatriots who show up both fawning and terrified, researching objects ranging from machinery to snack food. The imperiods are, one presumes, intended to celebprice the notion of North Korean freedom and superiority by portraying Kim Jong Il’s endorsement of assets and solutions manufactured or offered by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The spare, nearly clinical look of the imperiods, meanwhile, coupled with the frequently profoundly mundane nature of the objects at hand also lfinish the entire portfolio a tone that is one component humorous and three components crazy.

Visual Culture Blog curator Marco Bohr added an essay to the book, analyzing how and also why both the blog and the book versions of “Kim Jong Il Looking at Things” succeed on their very own, admittedly centralized terms. Bohr argues that the blog and book tap into a type of unpretentious humor “by using matter-of-truth captions that, firstly, withorganize any type of subjective opinion, and secondly, execute not self-consciously attempt to be funny in the initially location.” The success of the meme “depends on deconstructing the ridiculousness of propaganda apparatus.”

The book is the newest installment in Jean Boîte Éditions’ series, FOLLOW ME, Collecting Images Today, which seeks “to highlight an additional art scene, develops the virtual collector as a creator, and the ephemeral in the perennial.”

A spin-off blog featuring the Dear Leader’s son and successor, Kim Jong Un, was released hours after the announcement of Kim Jong Il’s death on Dec. 18, 2011. The original blog, which ongoing to add imperiods for a full year after its subject’s death, posted its last picture in late December, as Rocha reached the end of his archive.

Fortunately for all of us, the Dear Leader lives on in Rocha’s book, where we have the right to look at him looking at points to our cumulative hearts’ content.

Kim Jong Il Looking at Things was published by Jean Boîte Éditions in December 2012.

Tanner Curtis is an associate photo editor at muzic-ivan.info.

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