You may be unfortunate enough to have already heard about Louis Cole, a British travel blogger and vlogger whose latest adventures have taken him to North Korea. Yes, that North Korea, the notoriously repressed nation where women are forced into state-sponsored prostitution, people with disabilities are quarantined and sometimes forcibly sterilized, and political dissidents are forced to work in prison camps that have been compared to Holocaust-era Nazi camps.
Cole and his squad of equally ignorant chumps have been touring around the country—under very strict government-mandated supervision—surfing at water parks, seeing landmarks, and enjoying coffee in the only coffee shop in Pyongyang (I’m assuming because North Korean citizens can’t afford coffee), and apparently making music videos—today, mowing down suggestions that maybe he should stop using one of the most oppressed countries in the world for video views, Louis Cole and Lane Terzieff, another internet famous person, dropped this physically disgusting thing:
White dudes teaching little kids how to surf? Skater dudes skating? Amateur philosophers wondering why we can’t all just get along? This music video is basically a terrible Tinder profile. The song itself a heap of trap trash, cribbing lyrics from, um ,the most well-known celebrity supergroup charity song and adding stupendous lyrics like “Shh, this is a library,” and “Giving little kids high fives.” Other choice lines include “Situation’s changing, unification, life is yours for the taking,” which is interesting given North and South Korea have really been struggling on that unification front. Apparently, the song is available on iTunes and all proceeds will go towards aid for North Koreans through LNK Ministry, a Christian NGO working in the country.
Well, despite international outrage and suspicion that the crew was being paid by the North Korean government to create propaganda, Cole maintains that he's only “looking for the beautiful, positive things” and just wants to “connect with local people, learn about the culture and the country.” It's interesting that Cole meant for the video to connect with locals, because North Koreans can't even watch it. As Vox points out, not only is a huge chunk of the population in North Korea completely unaware that something like the internet even exists, but the privileged few thousand who have access (only 1,024 IP addresses for 25 million people) have a very censored and limited version of the internet. The government has blocked sites like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter for fear of spreading information that could undermine the republic.
While the media’s tendency to focus on only the hardships of a “Southern hemisphere” country can further polarize and dehumanize them, um, North Korea is some next-level shit. It’s not that the media is denying North Koreans have culture; it’s just that the only permitted culture is government-mandated culture. These vlogging assholes can say they made North Korea’s first music video (which is already some Columbusing white savior bullshit), because the only music in the country is pretty much entirely state propaganda. Come to think of it, though, they didn’t even make the first music video—here’s the music video for North Korea’s official song/club banger, released in 2013:
Part of me still hopes that maybe, just maybe, these videos are part of a CIA-MI6 joint operation to gather intel on the increasingly volatile country, and that Cole is really an undercover agent who has made the ultimate sacrifice for his country by getting white-man dreadlocks. We’ll never know that he was actually a hero all this time, preventing WWIII and playing a key role in freeing the North Korean people, because there’s no way he could possibly be this dumb. But no. This music video is about as dumb as it gets.
Recording a surfing song in a country where one in three children suffers from malnutrition, as does one in four pregnant or breastfeeding women, isn’t cute. Neither is making a music video under the guise of bringing people together in a place that boasts horrific human rights abuses that the UN found to be “without parallel in the contemporary world.” It doesn’t bring people together. It’s dumb white people shit.