When Chinese North-Korean Eyes Are Smiling

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41 Responses to “When Chinese North-Korean Eyes Are Smiling”

  1. Balint says:

    Just… unbelieveable!!!! 😀

  2. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Balint:

    Just… unbelieveable!!!! 😀

    Not really that unbelievable, Balint, given the lack of individuality and individual achievement fostered in Chinese culture generally, and educationally specifically. Look how long it took for genuine creative individualism to arise in Japanese culture and music? As a group educational function, the Chinese system can achieve wonders (as we can see), yet will they ever foster a Chinese Zappa or Beefheart? I think not. To quote the late Don Van Vliet, “If you want to be a different fish, you’ve got to jump out of the school.”

  3. Tom says:

    Before urbangraffito’s unbelievably condescending and witless comment about Chinese culture (and even stupider conflation of Chinese culture with Japanese culture) causes a huge argument here, let me point out that these kids are North Korean, not Chinese.

    Discipline, Dear Leader!

  4. Birdman! says:

    Culture of origin aside, there is a disturbing Stepford Children quality to their smiles and performance.

  5. Dark Clothes says:

    Japanese individualism:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYb6kZX1e2w

    🙂

  6. Thinman says:

    Pure horror!

  7. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Tom:

    Before urbangraffito’s unbelievably condescending and witless comment about Chinese culture (and even stupider conflation of Chinese culture with Japanese culture) causes a huge argument here, let me point out that these kids are North Korean, not Chinese.

    Discipline, Dear Leader!

    My comment wasn’t concerning Chinese culture as a whole – which is long and outdates Western civilization in many respects and uniquely on many fronts technologically, Tom (which can also be said about Japanese and South East Asian cultures, generally speaking).

    What I am speaking of, though, is the entire “leader” concept which these cultures seemed to have embraced, that have lead them down the dark garden path of militarism and a special military class. In Japan, after WW2 this lead to corporatism, while in China, North Korea, Veitnam, Burma, Cambodia, this lead to the embrace of Marxism and Communism – the effects of which are still being felt by the people of those nations (and quite negatively, I might add).

    Also, I cannot be blamed for the misidentification of these children as Chinese as my comment was made before that determination was discovered by the original poster.

    That said, I still stand by my original comment. I am saying there are not brave souls in those nations who express themselves individually and independently against the societal flood of conformity from birth they are faced with (that this video so well illustrates on some levels),
    but what of the countless numbers who suicide from the constant pressure to conform, to please?

    Furthermore, how can you use the epithet of “Dear Leader” without understanding it’s broader application in the surrounding South East Asain cultures while at the same time calling me witless?

    The horror, the horror.

    P.S. Having raised a child myself, the thought of kindergarden, first and foremost, is to have fun.

  8. Eric L says:

    Say what you will about Kim Jong Il…. but there is no denying that those kids rock!!

  9. Barry's Imaginary Publisher says:

    When I first saw it, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this clip, and I’m still scratching my head over it — which is why I posted without any additional comment, to see how you guys would react.

    On the one hand you have these incredibly talented kids, on the other something doesn’t sit right when it comes to their facial expression — there’s an awkward and brainwashed feel to it. Or maybe it’s just a cultural thing, and I’m watching this through ill-informed, condescending Euro-centric spectacles?

    Kudos to those kids though, regardless.

  10. Quan Yin says:

    “given the lack of individuality and individual achievement fostered in Chinese culture generally, and educationally specifically…Look how long it took for genuine creative individualism to arise in Japanese culture and music”

    Meanwhile back in Alberta…

  11. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Quan Yin:

    “given the lack of individuality and individual achievement fostered in Chinese culture generally, and educationally specifically…Look how long it took for genuine creative individualism to arise in Japanese culture and music”

    Meanwhile back in Alberta…

    Your point being, Quan?

  12. Barry's Imaginary Publisher says:

    A quote from Quan Yin:

    Meanwhile back in Alberta…

    Good call Quan Yin, but no cigar. In all fairness, I think you’ll agree we have to distinguish between a lack of a “cultural policy” (which in itself is a shameful thing, I agree), and the omni-presence of a cultural policy which aims to indoctrinate and rule out any dissenting voice. Tell me, do you think this is not what’s happening in North-Korea?

  13. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Barry’s Imaginary Publisher:

    When I first saw it, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this clip, and I’m still scratching my head over it — which is why I posted without any additional comment, to see how you guys would react.

    On the one hand you have these incredibly talented kids, on the other something doesn’t sit right when it comes to their facial expression — there’s an awkward and brainwashed feel to it. Or maybe it’s just a cultural thing, and I’m watching this through ill-informed, condescending Euro-centric spectacles?

    Kudos to those kids though, regardless.

    I figured I might step on some toes, Barry, with my comments, so I’ve been careful not to sling about cultural stereotypes, and limit my comments to South East Asian and Chinese culture of the 20th century up until the present.

    Are these kids talented? Indeed they are. Are their parents members of the Communist Party of North Korea? No doubt. While they get special treatment, how many other North Korean kids go to bed hungry?

    Or am I the only one who sees this for the Communist propaganda it is?

  14. urbangraffito says:

    Barry, I think someone needs to turn on the Dear Leader to the Great Frank Zappa.

  15. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from urbangraffito:

    A quote from Quan Yin:

    “given the lack of individuality and individual achievement fostered in Chinese culture generally, and educationally specifically…Look how long it took for genuine creative individualism to arise in Japanese culture and music”

    Meanwhile back in Alberta…

    Your point being, Quan?

    By the way, Quan, I am just as critical of Alberta Government policy towards education here as I am of governments in South East Asia. Freedom and individuality are essential for creativity, and are a basic human right, not only of a special class or party. The cultures of South East Asia have the right to explore their own history and create their own solutions. Anyone who has studied South East Asian history in the 20th Century can only arrive at the conclusion that their peoples have never been afforded this basic right (as we in the West have). Still, it will be interesting to see how things unfold as China and South East Asia as a whole become the economic engine powering the latter half of the 21st century, and what sort of creative cultural elements will arise from it.

  16. Barry's Imaginary Publisher says:

    Urb: Oh it’s propaganda alright.

    Here’s an interesting question: would you rather have a no arts policy (cutting funds on arts education and exhibits and theatre productions etc. – ‘Alberta’ as quoted by Quan is just an example), as opposed to an arts policy that is biassed and controlled top down – but does produce incredible talent?

    I dislike both.

    However that first model tends to thwart creativity , while the other holds a lot more potential. In an ideal world, you will have “the arts” more or less subsidized by the government, without said government sticking their censor-happy nose into what is and what is not “acceptable”.

    Grey area, slippery slope, make sentence…

  17. Dark Clothes says:

    Chinese individualism/activism/subversion:

    http://news.infoshop.org/article.php?story=2011020722390384

    I’m afraid it’s well nigh impossible to find stories like that from North Korea.

  18. Quan Yin says:

    Not really that unbelievable, Balint, given the lack of individuality and individual achievement fostered in Chinese culture generally, and educationally specifically.

    How many Chinese schools have you been to? How many times have you been to China? Just how much “individual achievement” was fostered at Antelope Valley High in beautiful Lancaster California USA?

    Look how long it took for genuine creative individualism to arise in Japanese culture and music?

    Ok…just how long did it take for “genuine creative individualism” to arise in Japanese culture and music? Kabuki, Noh, Sumi-e, the poet Ikkyu, the tea ceremony, the development of the 25 string koto…

    As a group educational function, the Chinese system can achieve wonders (as we can see), yet will they ever foster a Chinese Zappa or Beefheart?

    Did the educational system in Lancaster foster Zappa or Beefheart on purpose or did Zappa and Beefheart manifest despite the educational system in Lancaster?

    My comment wasn’t concerning Chinese culture as a whole

    Your comment was

    “…lack of individuality and individual achievement fostered in Chinese culture generally, and educationally specifically.

    which I read as “there is a lack of individuality and individual achievement fostered in Chinese culture generally, and education specifically”

    What I am speaking of, though, is the entire “leader” concept which these cultures seemed to have embraced, that have lead them down the dark garden path of militarism and a special military class.

    Luckly we in the West can point at that and laugh from our peace loving, high moral ground…Nope military industrial complex here…

    In Japan, after WW2 this lead to corporatism

    And in North America?

    while in China, North Korea, Veitnam, Burma, Cambodia, this lead to the embrace of Marxism and Communism – the effects of which are still being felt by the people of those nations (and quite negatively, I might add).

    Communism you say? Was that really communism, or was that some kind of totalitarian mish mosh of power consolidation and wealth centralisation? Either way, it looks like said “communism” has given way to the blessed western capitalist system. Problem(s) solved?

    That said, I still stand by my original comment. I am saying there are not brave souls in those nations who express themselves individually and independently against the societal flood of conformity from birth they are faced with (that this video so well illustrates on some levels),

    Is that what you’re saying, or are you saying there are brave souls in those nations…? And what about this societal flood of conformity from birth…is that a uniquely Asian or North Korean phenomena? Does free market capitalism “cure” this problem of conformity? Does listening to Frank Zappa make one a “non comformist?” How about buying everything the ZFT releases? Is that non-conformity?

    but what of the countless numbers who suicide from the constant pressure to conform, to please?

    Again…are those uniquely Asian phenomena–the suicide and the constant pressure to conform and please? Is conforming and ass kissing celebrated or punished in North America? How about in western free market capitalism?

    P.S. Having raised a child myself, the thought of kindergarden, first and foremost, is to have fun.

    How about the reality of kindergarden?

    then Barry says

    Good call Quan Yin, but no cigar. In all fairness, I think you’ll agree we have to distinguish between a lack of a “cultural policy” (which in itself is a shameful thing, I agree), and the omni-presence of a cultural policy which aims to indoctrinate and rule out any dissenting voice. Tell me, do you think this is not what’s happening in North-Korea?

    Could be. Now you tell me, do you think this is not what’s happening in our beloved “developed, western free market economy?” Do you think anything finds it’s way into the “parent culture’s” larger art-commodity stream without first and foremost serving the corporate overlords who own the means of production and distribution? Do you really believe that in all of Asia there arent little Frankies and Donnies drinking Pepsi in the back of the bread truck dreaming of imaginary Koto notes that irritate an executive kind of guy?

    Back to urban:

    I figured I might step on some toes, Barry, with my comments,

    Just 2 billion Asian ones.

    so I’ve been careful not to sling about cultural stereotypes, and limit my comments to South East Asian and Chinese culture of the 20th century up until the present.

    This is the first time the qualifier “of the 20th century” is mentioned…and yet your thesis is still absurd.

    Are these kids talented? Indeed they are. Are their parents members of the Communist Party of North Korea? No doubt. While they get special treatment, how many other North Korean kids go to bed hungry?

    Have there been any examples of the Children of Privilege getting “special treatment” in the arts, let alone elsewhere in our beloved free market economy–or is it a level playing field based on merit alone? Are there artists of considerable achievement and talent living far below the poverty level in some of the richest, most so-called “capitalist” cities in North America, or is that a uniquely North Korean or “communist” reality?

    Or am I the only one who sees this for the Communist propaganda it is?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9QZKA9Z8pI&feature=related

    mass games?

    Barry, I think someone needs to turn on the Dear Leader to the Great Frank Zappa.

    How do you know they haven’t already been “turned on” to the “Great Frank Zappa?” How do you know they aren’t wondering what the big whup is?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ZmAgFyVo48&feature=fvwrel

    By the way, Quan, I am just as critical of Alberta Government policy towards education here as I am of governments in South East Asia. Freedom and individuality are essential for creativity, and are a basic human right, not only of a special class or party.

    Creativity will happen regardless of “freedom” or “individuality.” SLAVES created the Blues.

    Anyone who has studied South East Asian history in the 20th Century can only arrive at the conclusion that their peoples have never been afforded this basic right (as we in the West have).

    One might want to study the roll the human rights loving west has played in subjecting of the Asian “peoples” and the denials of “this basic right” they have had to endure. That is, of course, an entirely different subject and conversation from the initial one–will “they” ever foster a Chinese Zappa or Beefheart?

  19. P-Rip says:

    Maybe it’s more Western than we think. Any chance it is overdubbed or a performance using a background tape? I didn’t study it in detail, but at times, the music seems slightly more complex than the finger movements.

    In any event, those robots look almost life-like! 😉

  20. Alex says:

    My guitar wants to kill your mama.

  21. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Barry’s Imaginary Publisher:

    Urb: Oh it’s propaganda alright.

    Here’s an interesting question: would you rather have a no arts policy (cutting funds on arts education and exhibits and theatre productions etc. – ‘Alberta’ as quoted by Quan is just an example), as opposed to an arts policy that is biassed and controlled top down – but does produce incredible talent?

    I dislike both.

    However that first model tends to thwart creativity , while the other holds a lot more potential. In an ideal world, you will have “the arts” more or less subsidized by the government, without said government sticking their censor-happy nose into what is and what is not “acceptable”.

    Grey area, slippery slope, make sentence…

    I dislike both as well, Barry.

    In all my years as an underground writer and micro-publisher in Canada and Alberta, only once did I ever receive funding – for a Canada Council sponsored reading in Toronto in 1990 – otherwise, I have subsidized all my efforts and publications myself. I have never much cared for government money. Once you let them into the creative process, they tend to want to dictate content – something I’d never sell out for any price. Still, that’s my individual choice, which luckily I have the freedom to make living where I do.

    Talent will emerge anywhere, regardless of funding (though it does help). What the individual is allowed to do with that talent is a completely different question, though, especially in regimes where one’s fate is determined by other parties.

    Remember the USSR? East Germany? This is really the only point I am making.

  22. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Dark Clothes:

    Chinese individualism/activism/subversion:

    http://news.infoshop.org/article.php?story=2011020722390384

    I’m afraid it’s well nigh impossible to find stories like that from North Korea.

    A brave individual, DC. As a life long anarchist with the freedom to speak out, I speak out. It’s humbling to read about a brother anarchist who risks much, his livelihood, perhaps his very liberty, to do the same.

  23. vivalapsych says:

    Even weirder is this:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LEKPbIpYdEE&feature=related

    dig that marimba!!

  24. Dark Clothes says:

    A quote from vivalapsych:

    Even weirder is this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LEKPbIpYdEE&feature=related

    dig that marimba!!

    It could have struck me as cuter than Disney, or Canadian brass bands, if I hadn’t known that it is the veneer of a totalitarian and corrupt system. I remember seeing North Korean propaganda films on NRK (our Norwegian social-democratic version of BBC) in the late Seventies, and the acting style was distinctly similar to what we see here. The purpose of official North Korean culture is always in the end to hail the great leader, Kim Il Sung. In official mythology, he’s still a living force, so even when they hail Kim Jong Il, it’s his father who’s really being adored. And meanwhile, people are starving and suffering, inside and outside of the penal colonies.

  25. Barry's Imaginary Publisher says:

    A quote from Quan Yin:

    then Barry says

    Good call Quan Yin, but no cigar. In all fairness, I think you’ll agree we have to distinguish between a lack of a “cultural policy” (which in itself is a shameful thing, I agree), and the omni-presence of a cultural policy which aims to indoctrinate and rule out any dissenting voice. Tell me, do you think this is not what’s happening in North-Korea?

    Could be. Now you tell me, do you think this is not what’s happening in our beloved “developed, western free market economy?”

    Sure. What gets exposure in places like North Korea happens out of “ideological” concepts, what gets exposure in places “like Alberta” (Western world by proxy) happens out of “capitalist” concepts. Same difference. They are very similar systems – either you want to sell Kim Jong Il, or you want to sell Coca Cola.

    My point is that both use-cases are not about supporting art and culture for the sake of art and culture — and therefor I dislike both. You need to find a middle ground – an admittedly grey zone whereby talent bubbles to the surface, possibly with the aid of a government that funds artistic/cultural initiatives without it having any last say over what gets or does not get funded. For us Westerners it may mean no Coca Cola ads, for North Korea, it may mean no blocking of any content “deemed inappropriate”.

    I appreciate your point about (to paraphrase) “art happening” whether or not there is any funding for it – and whether or not it is subsidized, licensed by any governing party.

    People will create shit – and there ain’t nothing Wall Street and/or Kim Jung Ill can do to prevent that from happening. And some of that shit is going to be awesome!

  26. urbangraffito says:

    It was not my intention to turn this thread into East vs. West geopolitical debate, Quan. Obviously you take South East Asian history very personally (and well you should in some respects) – the West has much to answer for concerning its foreign policy in that part of the world. Still both the East and the West must answer for their own historical choices, ultimately. It is as important for me as a Canadian to force my fellow countrymen to recognize their historical and systemic racism throughout the 19th and 20th centuries via their anglo-centric laws which limited the rights of non-anglos in Canada (which included, unfortunately, large numbers of Chinese immigrants). Fortunately, such laws no longer exist and Chinese and South East Asain immigrants are now among the majority of Canadian citizens in Canada. That’s how pluralism works. I know. I’ve spent years teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) to newcomers and landed immigrants. Furthermore, nephews of mine have taught ESL in China. Not exactly a tour of South East Asian culture, I know, but indeed a glimpse. I need not be told about the achievements of Japanese and Chinese culture – that is not at question. Indeed, Modern Japanese literature and the writings of Ryunosuke Akutagawa have long since been a personal favourite of mine. One can still love and appreciate a culture while being critical of it. I witness this occurring in China and all over South East Asia by the youth of those countries. Tell me, Quan, where do you think these youths received this rebellious influence? I’m interested to know your perspective. Surely the West and had a minor influence, but methinks its more likely something closer to home.

  27. Hugh says:

    A quote from P-Rip:

    In any event, those robots look almost life-like! 😉

    Yes! This video has the same creepy feel as the “It’s A Small World ” ride in Disneyland.

    “Never get out of the boat!”
    – Chef

  28. Eric L says:

    Kids in America could probably play video games better than those kids. U.S.A.!!!!

  29. Alex says:

    I thought you were the robit!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwQF9g6EjPw

  30. Sam The Real says:

    …and, as the evening draws to a close, UG still has the taste of Quan’s dick in his mouth. I see a pattern here. Someone calls UG on his lazy thinking, then UG pukes paragraphs of pig’s garbage at the problem.
    That is, instead of just saying, “Hey guys, sometimes I don’t know what I am talking about”.

    I must be confused, though. UG is a radical anarchist writer! Neat-0.

  31. Dark Clothes says:

    I found Quan Yin’s remarks interesting, appropriate and timely as a response to Urban Graffitto’s initial hasty generalization. But speaking of dicks in the mouth and such doesn’t really move the discussion forward, does it, Sam? If that’s the way of the real world, I prefer a slightly more civil delusion.

  32. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Sam The Real:

    I see a pattern here. Someone calls UG on his lazy thinking, then UG pukes paragraphs of pig’s garbage at the problem.

    I am more than willing to admit when I’m an arse, Sam, and believe me, on occasion, I’ve made a colossal one of myself. I’ll admit, on this occasion I made some hasty generalizations to begin with (since the object of this thread was initially unclear – which I attempted to rectify with further comments).

    However, it’s pretty much clear that Quan had no interest whatsoever in civil discussion – only argument – which also seems to be your aim.

    The only pattern one should notice here at KUR is that of learned, civil discussion with the occasional bite of sarcasm.

    The ignorant are the first to resort to ad hominem personal attacks:

    http://plover.net/~bonds/adhominem.html

  33. Alex says:

    On behalf of my entire hemisphere, I wish to apologize for the urbane-graffito.

  34. Quan Yin says:

    However, it’s pretty much clear that Quan had no interest whatsoever in civil discussion – only argument – which also seems to be your aim.

    The only pattern one should notice here at KUR is that of learned, civil discussion with the occasional bite of sarcasm.

    OK…do you want to have a “learned, civil discussion” about the lack of individuality and individual achievement fostered in Chinese culture generally, and educationally specifically or do you want to have a “learned civil discussion” about something else?

  35. alex says:

    Remember when we all got along and talked about how much we liked Zappa, Beefheart, The Tubes, Cheap Trick, and boobies?

    Let’s chase that feeling, gents!

  36. Barry's Imaginary Publisher says:

    A quote from alex:

    Remember when we all got along and talked about how much we liked Zappa, Beefheart, The Tubes, Cheap Trick, and boobies?

    Let’s chase that feeling, gents!

    Emotion seconded.

  37. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Barry’s Imaginary Publisher:

    A quote from alex:

    Remember when we all got along and talked about how much we liked Zappa, Beefheart, The Tubes, Cheap Trick, and boobies?

    Let’s chase that feeling, gents!

    Emotion seconded.

    I’ll move that (e)motion along!

  38. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Alex:

    On behalf of my entire hemisphere, I wish to apologize for the urbane-graffito.

    Exactly what are you apologizing for, Alex, my lack of political correctness?

  39. Alex says:

    When the truth is found to be lies
    And all the joy within you dies

    …and then what?

    Go ask alex. I think he’ll know.

  40. urbangraffito says:

    A quote from Alex:

    When the truth is found to be lies
    And all the joy within you dies

    …and then what?

    Go ask alex. I think he’ll know.

    Alex, you are wise. 🙂

  41. alex says:

    Moving the project forward!

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