North Korea’s Troll Army? The Sinophone Internet Debate Over Kim Jong Un’s On-Site Inspection

By | January 22, 2012 | 45 Comments

In the endeavor to follow news coming out of Pyongyang since January 1, it has been occasionally difficult to follow Chinese news threads about Kim Jong Un.  Something suprising appears to be happening on the Chinese internet in the Kim Jong Un era, at least on the Huanqiu Shibao/Global Times comment boards, which, associated with the PRC’s leading mass foreign affairs tabloid, are some of the rather more important controlled spaces for public speech about North Korea. What is the suprise?  We are seeing a great deal more comments from North Korean netizens.  It’s unclear if they are commenting from within North Korea or inside of China, but the comments appear to be coming in greater numbers than in the past, begging the question: even if North Korea becomes more high tech, and more fluent in Chinese, does that all necessarily lead ipso facto to reform and opening up?  Moreover, are North Korea’s propagandists taking matters into their own hands, recognizing that Chinese web controls will never lend full-throated defense of their new leader?  These are questions upon which we here at SinoNK.com will be keeping an eye.

Functioning as Exhibit A are the comments appended to today’s Huanqiu Shibao run of North Korean photographs of Kim Jong Un’s on-site inspection of an air-force unit.  The whole series can be seen by clicking on the image below:

Helping B.R. Myers Sell More Books, North Korean Pilots Rest in the Motherly Bosom of Kim Jong Un; image via Huanqiu Shibao

The comments that follow are in direct translation, and, for reasons of time, appear in reverse order, as they do on the Huanqiu site.  (Which is to say that there is some PG-13 language therein.)  What is so interesting is that there are really three distinctive types of voices which emerge in the following example:

1. North Korean netizen comments, completely taking the DPRK government line;

2. Chinese “50-cent Party” comments, seeking to “channel public opinion” about North Korea along CCP-friendly lines;

3. Chinese netizen comments, largely dismissive and insulting.

About 50 of the 80 comments are translated here; about 10 comments were repeats. Rather than color-code the comments in line with the three perspectives laid out above, it is assumed that the reader can judge for him or herself the perspective employed.  Entries in bold are of particular interest.  Any editorial comments by me follow the comment in bracketed italics.  So, without further ado:

敬祝朝鲜人民在伟大的金正恩将军领导下,早日喝上排骨汤,穿上绫罗绸缎/I wish that under the leadership of the the great Kim Jong Un, the North Korean people will, at a day very soon, have meat soup and wear silk clothes.

作为中国人,我也崇拜伟大的金正日 As a Chinese person, I also worship the great Kim Jong Il.

美国无耻,封锁这样穷国 America has no shame to keep such a poor country closed.

飞机太落后了。The airplanes are way too backward.

去了朝鲜,发觉朝鲜人很纯洁,没有利益纷争,没有仇恨,朝鲜人比中国人团结多了,邻居之间很和谐 I went to North Korea, found I feel that North Korean people are very pure and honest [纯洁], not trying to benefit from disputes, not at all hateful. North Korean people are more united than Chinese people, as neighbors, their space is very harmonious. [The characterization of North Koreans as “pure and honest” follows directly in line with CCP-sponsored characterizations of Tibetans for Han audiences in films such as “Love Song of Kangding.”]

慈父金正日永远与我们同在 The compassionate father Kim Jong Il will eternally be with us.

哈哈狗日的金鬼 Ha ha; dog-spawned devil Kim.

一个脑死亡的国家!A brain-dead country!

朝鲜,一个充满欺骗的国家!North Korea, a country completely full of self-deception!

shenmajibadongxi! // What a dick! [Comment in pinyin so as to avoid censorship.]

牢牢牵住正恩手,加官进禄定当首 Under the steady hand of Jong Un, promotions and pay raises will surely occur. [This comment is in rhymed verse.]

脱北的人越来越多了。There are more and more defectors.

把自己的国人整的傻了吧唧的,一个行尸走肉的民族![These] people are completely stupid about their own country, a walking corpse of a people!

我是个生活在中国底层的中国百姓,希望我的国家能有所作为,援助朝鲜足够的大米、粮食,因为现在朝鲜迫切需要粮食。My own life is one of a lower-level Chinese commoner; I hope that my country can help North Korea to have enough rice and grain because now North Korea completely lacks grain. [The image that this particular comment evokes — that of a Chinese peasant texting in a message of support for the DPRK via a mobile phone in his farm field — is a perfect example of the CCP and DPRK’s updating of their revolutionary and Korean War-era traditional propaganda; it is old wine in new bottles.]

金正恩将军有伟人风采,与战士亲密无间 General Kim Jong Un is a great talent, he is a close friend to the soldiers.

有那么夸张吗?Is there some exaggeration here?

没有金氏皇族、世界会倒退、Without the Kim imperial race, the whole world would be gone.

金正恩将军有伟人风采,思密达 General Kim Jong Un is a great talent, simida! [The final exclamation, simida, appears to be a standard fake Korean phrase used by Chinese netizens to mock the Korean language; making this comment ironic. North Korean net phrase? Reader clarification would be appreciated.]

肚大头大手大 Big belly, big head, big hands.

在我看来,金正恩同志是一位关心民生,重视部队建设,并爱好和平的领导者。金正恩同志是朝鲜民族的希望。In my view, Comrade Kim Jong Un is a person who pays close attention to the people’s livelihood, attaching great importance to military construction, a leader who loves peace. Comrade Kim Jong Un is the hope of the Korean race.

事必躬亲呀!不过这美帝靶机看着让人心酸.He attends to everything personally! However, the American imperialist target drones must give this person heartburn.   see this, it must give them heartburn.

这里居然能评论。。网易关于朝鲜的都是关评的。I’m surprised I can comment here… All the online comment boards about North Korea are closely managed.

越来越有领导风范了啊,呵呵,一笑而过。。。。。。。。。。。。[In response to the comment “He has more and more the style of a leader”] Ah…cough cough, I’m smiling about that.

哈哈一群神马玩意 Ha Ha! A crowd looking at a trick pony. [E.g., the whole thing is a false spectacle.]

环球网是中国的还是朝鲜的 Is the Huanqiu website China’s, or is it North Korea’s?

朝鲜间谍占领了环球了吗 Have North Korean spies occupied Huanqiu?

金正恩加油。做人要做这样的人。这就叫骨气。吊还没懂尼。肯定不知到何为骨气。[In response to comment “You go, Kim Jong Un! Everyone should be like this person.”] This is what can be called integrity. [Some people] haven’t lamented [about the death of Kim Jong Il]. It has got to be because they don’t understand any kind of integrity.

懂个吊 ———-是得先把你那吊弄懂了 你再滚出来 [In response to previous comment] Right, but first take your lament and, again, get the hell out of here.

懂个吊 Understand the laments.

飞行员同志见到亲爱的金正恩同志,就像见到了慈父金正日一样!!! When the comrade fighter pilots look upon comrade Kim Jong Un, they see that he looks like his compassionate father Kim Jong Il!!!

和蔼可亲的金正恩同志万岁,万万岁!!!! Closely following Comrade Kim Jong Un, Long Live, Long Long Live [Kim Jong Un]!!!

请金正恩同志注意身体健康,祖国需要您!! Please pay heed to your health, Comrade Kim Jong Un, your motherland needs you!!!

为美军捐款,敦促其尽早空袭平壤!!!———先把你这个狗卖给菲律宾当佣人 [In response to the comment “In order to waste America’s military budget, please hasten them to bomb Pyongyang as soon as possible!”] First send this dog-reader to the Philippines where he can become a servant.

指导训练??? Leading drills???

请文明上网、理性发言!Please surf the web in a civilized way, comment reasonably! [Automated message placed on board when a comment is deleted.]

为美军捐款,敦促其尽早空袭平壤!!! In order to waste We should donate money to the American military, please hasten them to bomb Pyongyang as soon as possible!

寒酸的飞机,也难怪飞行员同志很委屈 Wretched airplanes, and no wonder comrade pilots feel aggrieved [Likely reference to North Korean pilot attempted defection/crash near Shenyang, August 2010, reported on from Liaoning at the time by SinoNK.com editor here.]

真能人也,,一个小毛孩,一天兵未当,能懂陆、海、空!祝朝鲜又出了个“伟大领袖”!Is it possible that there could be just an inexperienced kid a person who is also a child of Mao, who after one day could understand the Marines, the Navy, the Air Force?  I wish that North Korea could produce yet another ‘Great Leader’ [Using the leader phrase associated with Mao]!

金正恩真帅啊!Kim Jong Un is truly handsome!

原来人虚伪起来可以如此无敌 社会主义国家果然善于培养人才 It used to be that a person could see things like this without stating opposition. Socialist countries really build up people’s talents.

金正恩可以给北朝鲜人民送去塑料芒果了,他们也都会热泪盈眶的。If Kim Jong Un could give the North Korean people plastic mangoes, their eyes would brim with tears of excitement.

把你爹废了很高兴是吧~ Makes his wastrel father very happy.

本山的忽悠功夫比金家差的太远,惭愧吧。[Comedian] Zhao Benshan’s kung-fu con act is about as funny as this; [they should] be ashamed.

貌似比乃父忠厚些…..His look is much more generous than that of his father…

切切实实的把人民群众的生活水平搞上去,别再搞世袭制亲爱的接班人还有这能耐呢,知道飞行员训练?!Practically, if the living standard of the masses is being raised, then don’t again go in for the hereditary succession system; even if he does have talent, does he really know how to drill the air force?

小屁孩,真他妈的悲剧 Shitty little kid, truly a motherfucking tragedy.

金正恩加油 做人的要做这样的人 You go, Kim Jong Un! Everyone should be like this person.

一点都没变 [North Korea] didn’t change, not one little bit.

大过年的能不能别上他的新闻 It’s the big New Year, is it possible not to show his news?

头型真好。The shape of his head is really nice.

长的比李明博大方 He will be around longer than [South Korean President] Lee Myung Bak.

金正恩一看就有正义感的人.而李明博小眼子八拉,一看就是下三烂之流! Just one look at Kim Jong Un and you can feel that he is a person of justice. Lee Myung Bak, on the other hand, has slanted eyes and looks like a dispicable bum, lowly hooligan! tells you he is like mush that will soon be swept away [unclear idiom; reader comments welcome].

看多真成率真脸庞,是个大福大贵之人! Seeing that his face is truly that of a leader, [one can believe that] this is a man of great luck and class!

他这笑容还真有媚丽! His smile here is truly charmingly beautiful!

真有领袖的范!不错这孩子! He really has the look of leader! This kid is not bad!

— Translations by Adam Cathcart

Additional Reading: 

R.J. Koehler, “So you wanted to meet some REAL pro-North Korean netizens, eh?The Marmot’s Hole, November 29, 2011.

Wikipedia, “50-Cent Party,” updated January 21, 2012.

Joshua Kopstein, “Kim Jong Il was an ‘Internet Expert’,” Mother Board, December 19, 2011.

45 Comments

  1. If I had hugged my superior when I was in the army I would still be washing the bathroom with my toothbrush 🙂

  2. Thanks for finding and translating this, and congrats on Sino NK!

  3. Thank you DanB! We’ll soon be amping up content on refugee-related issues, so do keep me in the loop (cathcaaj[at]plu.edu) if you have a post or even just some photos you’d like me to run.

  4. Wow, definitely interesting stuff..Learned alot about the Chinese, North Korea and how they think of the U.S military.

  5. I thought it was interesting that a Chinese commentor was comfortable enough on the message board to say “North Korea, a country completely full of self-deception!” (Well, there were other, fouler things that were more representative, but I see no reason to perpetuate profanity when this will do as well.) I wonder: is Mao’s Great Leap Forward too long ago for the Chinese commentator to be thinking of that fiasco and self-deception? If that is too long ago, perhaps there is some other Chinese example of “a country full of self-deception.”

  6. Thanks, Julia! I like your point about “perpetuating” misconceptions or carrying the antagonism forward in the China-NK online interaction. I think as readers and analysts we have to be just a little careful in making a career (at least in my case) of constantly pointing out inter-Asian conflicts (the relationship between Chinese and Japanese is another area where this is too easy) mainly for the purpose of showing how reasonable the rest of are, or how much our mediation is necessary. If there is one major lesson to be learned in the present Sino-North Korean relationship, one might say that it has very little need of US mediation…

    The parallels with Mao’s Great Leap Forward and the North Korean famine of 1994-97 are interesting, can pursue those further. Of course there are also huge differences, but in some ways they rhyme (prevalence of blaming bad weather rather than gov. policy, rapid population exchanges over the Tumen river in particular in search of food…)

  7. Thanks, Marie. Absolutely, not much love lost toward the U.S. on this particular chat board. Although the exhortation for the US to bomb Pyongyang was one I hadn’t heard before.

  8. Man… How am I supposed to compete with that! nice comment @Julia RW

  9. You gotta quote one of the 50-cent party!

  10. Two responses really stood out to me:
    “America has no shame to keep such a poor country closed.” and “My own life is one of a lower-level Chinese commoner; I hope that my country can help North Korea to have enough rice and grain because now North Korea completely lacks grain”.

    Very interesting commentary related to the Chinese peasant quote. Crazy the extent the NK government goes to spread their propaganda.

  11. If North Korea is to open its borders and reform, would it be smart for them to build up their industry and gain some national wealth? Also do you think North Korea will go down simply reforming, or will it be a bloody overthrowing?

  12. The comment “He attends to everything personally!” has me wondering if Kim Jong Un’s personal appearances are happening so constantly to solidify his rule and if they will considerably lessen after he is firmly established. Did Kim Jong Il make more frequent appearances when he took over?

  13. 50 cent party = SOPA. I see this as a good thing for North Korea by actually opening itself up a little bit. Is Korea going to enter the tech age under the guidance of the Great Leader Kim Jong Un? time will tell…

  14. I find it interesting that no matter if these posts are coming from inside North Korea or China that either country would allow this to persist at all. I also wonder if some of these are propaganda since many are very pro China and North Korea. I wonder why some people are posting positive messages when many are posting negative ones. If they have the ability to post negative views they must have some type of freedom.

  15. Thanks Jeff; there will be an article coming out, this week I believe, by Bruce Cumings on the question of how collapse is always predicted but never comes to pass. Opening borders is, supposedly, the great contradiction: one needs outside investment to add wealth, but that investment would come with cultural and other influences that might lead to unrest or worse for the DPRK.

  16. I think that it is interesting that the idea of North Korea opening up in technology is possibly rising now, and around the same time, the United States is on the edge about censoring the internet and what is allowed to be said and viewed.

  17. Both true it seems, of course qualitatively different in the sense that North Korea has essentially been completely off the world internet grid entirely until recently. I don’t really know much about the SOPA regulations or what is being proposed, however, will need to rely on some others to educate me in that realm. Certainly on the Chinese internet there is a massive amount of attention paid to these developments in the US and a high awareness.

  18. In other words, in order even to comment, the North Koreans (pro-DPRK Koreans) would need to expose themselves to the critiques of their leadership in the first place. Not necessarily an easy action!

  19. I think that’s the big question, isn’t it Randall? Will the young leader usher in a more cosmopolitan age? At the same time, one has to keep in mind that he’s new and surrounded, often quite literally, by 80-year-olds. That would be like Henry Kissinger and Zgibnew Brzezinski running the US gov. (Nixon-Carter retreads).

  20. I thought the trope “the US is responsible for North Korea’s isolation” was interesting; it seems to be from a Chinese perspective. Although the logic stretches slightly, the comment allows Chinese audience to admit that North Korea is an unusually isolated and closed state, but to blame the US, not Chinese aid or especially the communist political system, for the conditions in the DPRK.

  21. Exactly, Harvey, that’s why it’s interesting to read Chinese comments; occasionally (or very often) commenters will just go off and attack on an unexpected topic, like their erstwhile “ally” Kim Jong Un. And the CCP allows this, to a degree. If it got really vociferous they could cut if off just about immediately. One of the interesting things about this thread is how the themes all mix together and the critical voices sometimes get submerged.

  22. It is definitely interesting to see comments from several different perspectives. Most of Chinese comments were very honest and in many cases down right blunt, but I agree with Julia RW’s comment: they were certainly comfortable enough to speak their minds. The most interesting aspect for me were the comments about Kim Jong Un that were full of adoration for the leader, one even calling him “handsome” another saying, “n my view, Comrade Kim Jong Un is a person who pays close attention to the people’s livelihood, attaching great importance to military construction, a leader who loves peace. Comrade Kim Jong Un is the hope of the Korean race.” What is interesting is that this man took power one month ago and from what I have heard he has not actually spoken to his people and that there appears to be very little information about him. Perhaps it is the love of the Kim family that these people are expressing. Still, as the more critical of the comments suggest that North Korea’s state of affairs is less than satisfactory. Perhaps these more adoring comments are coming from elite within the North Korean government itself or within China. I find it unlikely that North Korea has opened up to reform.

  23. It seems that Kim Jong Un is under a fair amount of criticism. He is young, he is not the oldest son to take over for his father ( as should be the case traditionally in the Kim dynasty ), and he is even further disconnected from the military roots that Kim Il Sung founded North Korea on. Will the circumstance that Kim Jong Un has been forced to embrace provoke a mentality of needing to prove himself? The criticisms of Kim Jong Un seem to be as intense as the titles of honor bestowed upon him. I’ve read some that go as far as callin him a ‘Nuke Visionary’.

  24. Unless I am severely mistaken, the “Great Firewall of China” is not THAT hard to get around for the tech-savy… So the question that I currently have is whether or not the North Koreans have become better adapt at using proxies/Tor servers/and the like or whether or if they have just found a simple way to somewhat circumvent the North Korean propagandists in their criticisms of the current regime…

  25. Exactly! Perhaps that is precisely the point of the propaganda: though it gives virtually no specific information about the leader (apart from the fact that he looks at blankets, supposedly leads military drills, is said to have written brilliant unpublished essays at an early age), the North Korean people spring to his defense and cover his image with affection. The unity of the body politic with the person of the leader is thus achieved and continually reachieved. B.R. Myers, one of the top analysts of the propaganda, says the fantastic elements of it are just that: the important thing is not that they are factual, it is that they are believed. With the power transition, very little information has come out to suggest that this cult of personality is set to topple.

    See also http://asiasociety.org/blog/asia/interview-charles-armstrong-fallacy-north-korean-instability

  26. I found the comment from the Chinese man about how he worshiped the great Kim Jong Il Interesting. Why would someone not from within North Korea want to worship him?

  27. The opening paragraph slightly confused me in the beginning, but as I read the comments I began to understand the point of the post. I thought it was interesting, and related to the book that we are currently reading, that the Korean people only have the upmost respect for there leader who shows them nothing but cruelty. I was wondering that if the North Korean citizens actually think America is responsible for ruining their lives, or they are only saying things like, “America has no shame to keep such a poor country closed,” to not upset the party leaders. I also found it interesting to read the mixed emotions of the Chinese writers.

  28. I thought this qoute was intriguing “My own life is one of a lower-level Chinese commoner; I hope that my country can help North Korea to have enough rice and grain because now North Korea completely lacks grain” My concern: Did North Korea have unlimited rice and grain before Kim Jong Un or because the change of leadership on North Korea?

    I also was amused when I read that US was to bomb Pyongyang. I wonder what formulated that propaganda.

  29. Good question; to me that seemed quite fake. In other words, probably a North Korean posing as a Chinese (otherwise, why say it? And it isn’t funny enough to be taken as irony._)

  30. Well said!

  31. That’s true about the GFW (Great Firewall). I think the North Koreans are quite good at using proxies.

  32. I know most North Koreans will worship Kim Jong Il as a God, but why would the want to make it seem like someone from China would be praising Kim Jong Il when they could? Would it lead to them getting into trouble if they had posted it saying I am a North Korean and I worship or praise Kim Jong Il? Oops I spelled my own last name wrong.

  33. This comes from the idea spread actively in NK that the whole world looks to North Korean leaders as models. It’s obviously beyond fictional, but it’s their story and they are sticking to it.

  34. Adam,

    I’d like to know how you could clearly tell that those pro-North Korean comments are actually from North Koreans. I mean they are not too different from some of the pro-North Korean comments that I have seen over the years, including those on the chaoxian.cn site. Also I find it intriguing that you could pick out those 50-centers. Are you assuming that any Chinese netizen with a sane mind must be extremely critical of North Korea, to say anything otherwise would indicate that person is either a “North Korean troll” or a “Chinese 50-center”??

  35. I thought it was interesting seeing the NK leader embrace his soldiers with such comfort and love, as seen from the pic above. Seems so contradictory to the NK socialism and leadership we’ve learned about since the late ’40s to the present, especially up to the point of the passing of the late Kim il-sung. Maybe NK is heading towards a more peaceful type of unity, then again, there have been many recent pictures posted of Kim Jong Un seen near military equipement as well as being observed with many NK military generals. Time may only tell.

  36. Thanks for the sharp eyes on this, Juche. Do you have an earlier example I could look at of a similar mixture of comments? And sure, I see your point about speculating 50-cent party comments; it’s all speculation; these people don’t even have handles or avatars by which to judge perspectives!

  37. Sure, Carl, this is indeed the softer side of socialism! Would be quite rare to see Chinese leaders in similar pose.

  38. This whole thing might be based on the assumption that no foreigner with a right mind would revere Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il and the North Korean regime. But we know this is not true. Just google “Korean Friendship Association” and you will see videos of foreigners, some of who are westerners expressing very sympathetic views about North Korea.

    Once again, I don’t think one can just assume those who posted pro-North Korean comments are North Korean “trolls”. Are we to assume that after all, all Chinese must think the same? That silly view is actually propagated by none other than the Chinese government officials themselves!

  39. Adam,

    I can’t think of any specific comments or internet threads off the top of my head right now, but I have definitely seen some pro-North Korean comments before, not just isolated incidents. I mean check out 朝鲜中国网, I have not frequented it as much as I did before, I recall reading pro-North Koreans comments there. If you think about it, the whole idea behind that site is somewhat pro-North Korean, isn’t it, even though it might be a little lukewarm? I can’t fathom that the whole thing is just an anti-North Korean sarcastic snub.

  40. Adam,

    I would like to clarify a few comments that I felt were somewhat inaccurately translated:

    (1) 真能人也,,一个小毛孩,一天兵未当,能懂陆、海、空!祝朝鲜又出了个“伟大领袖”!Truly there could be a person who is also a child of Mao, who after one day could understand the Marines, the Navy, the Air Force! Wish that North Korea could produce yet another ‘Great Leader’ [Using the leader phrase associated with Mao]!

    “小毛孩” has nothing to do with “a child or Mao”, it just means “a little child who is not experienced whatsoever”

    (2) 为美军捐款,敦促其尽早空袭平壤!!! In order to waste America’s military budget, please hasten them to bomb Pyongyang as soon as possible!

    I am sure the original commentor meant “let’s donate to the US armed forces and urge them to bomb Pyongyang”.

    (3) 事必躬亲呀!不过这美帝靶机看着让人心酸.He attends to everything personally! When the American imperialists see this, it must give them heartburn.

    The commentor was being sarcastic in pointing out how shitty the North Korean fighter jets are, so much so that they will become easy targets for the Americans. Hence “美帝靶机” – American imperialists’ target drones.

    (4) 金正恩将军有伟人风采,思密达 General Kim Jong Un is a great talent, simida! [The final exclamation, simida, appears to be a North Korean net phrase? Reader clarification would be appreciated.]

    A lot of Chinese netizens use 思密达 (습나다 in Korean) to mock the Koreans or things Korean in general, especially the South Koreans who in their opinion are snobs that claimed everything Chinese as Korean (see the rumor of Confucius, Zhu Yuanzhang, the first emperor of Ming being of Korean descent etc.) I believe the originin of 思密达 comes from the impression some Chinese seem to have that a lot of Korean sentences end with 습니다.

    (5) 金正恩一看就有正义感的人.而李明博小眼子八拉,一看就是下三烂之流! Just one look at Kim Jong Un and you can feel that he is a person of justice. Unlike Lee Myung Bak, one looks tells you he is like mush that will soon be swept away [unclear idiom; reader comments welcome].

    The commentor was talking about the fact that Lee Myung-bak has small and slanted eyes (even for the Chinese!) and he looks like some despicable lowly bum (下三烂), compared to Kim Jong-un.

    And finally I have a real problem with the following interpretation (not the translation itself):

    去了朝鲜,发觉朝鲜人很纯洁,没有利益纷争,没有仇恨,朝鲜人比中国人团结多了,邻居之间很和谐 I went to North Korea, found I feel that North Korean people are very pure and honest [纯洁], not trying to benefit from disputes, not at all hateful. North Korean people are more united than Chinese people, as neighbors, their space is very harmonious. [The characterization of North Koreans as “pure and honest” follows directly in line with CCP-sponsored characterizations of Tibetans for Han audiences in films such as “Love Song of Kangding.”]

    I have no idea why you thought 纯洁 is a description that the Chinese seem to reserve for ethnic minorities after being brainwashed by CCP propaganda. The Chinese often look back at the Mao years as years of people being much more 纯洁, compared to today’s China, land of corruption and materialistic desires.

  41. Fantastic response, JCM, this is precisely the kind of detailed feedback that makes doing these kinds of projects worthwhile. Let me see if I can consolidate a little bit based on the new data.

    (1) Ok, will make the correction forthwith.

    (2) I see, I mistook 捐 juan1 for 失 shi; so your translation is correct: “let’s donate to the US armed forces and urge them to bomb Pyongyang”. An interesting turnabout in any case on the notion of Chinese “aid for North Korea” and indicative again that patience is not eternal.

    (3) I completely missed “靶机 (ba3ji1)” – “target drones”, not to be mistaken with “unmanned aerial drones” which I think there will be a post about sometime soon here at SinoNK.

    (4) Thanks especially for the clarification on 思密达 (습나다 in Korean); it thus becomes apparent that the statement of Kim’s superiority here is pure mockery of things Korean. Rudiger Frank mentions in his immense notation on post-Kim Jong Il North Korea (http://japanfocus.org/-Ruediger-Frank/3674) that “Chinese are still often called by the derogatory term 돼넘 in private conversations.” Do you have any hanja on that phrase or could you explain it a bit further?

    (5) Thanks, I really could not get that 八拉 figured out and the 流 is for hooligan, not water! .

    6) The adjective 纯洁 is obviously not purely reserved for ethnic minorities but, having lived in Sichuan for something like 6 months out of the last 2 years, I have really been struck there in how often this kind of contextualizing propaganda is given about Tibetans by the CCP. I don’t like the term “brainwashing” for lots of reasons, but this idea that sometimes-violent “minority” groups (which the North Koreans are sometimes taken down to the level of in the PRC discourse, which makes them painfully uncomfortable, I believe) can just be explained away with statments that say, in so many words, “hey, they are just really direct! we have to understand they’re a little different, sometimes volatile, and that we need to compromise or adjust our expectations just a little bit”; this is everywhere in the second tier of ethnic-related propaganda, TV shows, movies, etc.; I think it counts sufficiently as a trope. Sure, there is the revolutionary nostalgia that might also be appended to such a phrase, but when you see it, along with fanrong (prosperous development) used in both Tibet and with reference to the DPRK by Chinese commentators, you tend to think twice. I’m glad that you disagree with me, however, because that means that now I have to keep the file open on that question — I suppose I could be quite wrong. After all, it’s a capacious language and country we are dealing with, and single meanings are rarely the way to go — anything but “pure ans simple”! 复杂!

  42. Adam,

    To me 돼넘 is rather easy to translate, it simply means “pig head” or 猪头(돼 means pig while 넘 can loosely be translated as “bum” or “bad guy”) , a derogatory term indeed but not necessarily reserved for the Chinese (unlike 짱개, which is exclusively used to denigrate the Chinese by the South Koreans).

    As to 纯洁, I understand some Chinese might have been given the impression by the CCP that ethnic minorities are knowing for singing and dancing. But I don’t see why this has anything to do with how Chinese people see North Korea. If anything the Chinese tend to think the Koreans are bery fierce people. I felt that I have read 去了朝鲜,发觉朝鲜人很纯洁,没有利益纷争,没有仇恨,朝鲜人比中国人团结多了,邻居之间很和谐 far too many times, especially from older Chinese folks who had experienced the Mao years, you know people who tend to have this nostalgia about the good old days when people were far less 复杂. Just wanted to say this observation that the North Koreans appear so 纯洁 has nothing to do with the Tibetans etc. at all and it has everything to do with China’s own past.

  43. Got it! Thanks for the clarification and the eye for detail, both are definitely appreciated here.

  44. Adam,

    Check this out. “Pro-North Korean” comments. I wouldn’t say North Korean trolls have taken over wenxuecity as well!

    http://www.wenxuecity.com/news/2012/01/25/1612504.html?refresh

  45. I liked the very rational reply “朝鲜的天还是蓝的;北京的天是灰的 [North Korea’s skies are still blue; Beijing’s skies are ashen]。” Thanks for appending this.

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