What do these colorful North Korean posters really say about this country?
If you've been watching the news lately, you probably know that North Korea is very important politically. Even if you haven’t been keeping up, I’m pretty sure you've at least heard of the place, maybe not from the news directly, but from humorous approaches to this topic, like James Franco’s movie The Interview. That film became insanely popular because the plot revolved around the North Korean government in a very satirical (and a little rude) way.
North Korea has become a source of interest and wonder for many people, and if you don’t entirely understand why, you came to the right place. If you feel like you’re missing out on what’s really going on there, there is a very peculiar way that will help you understand this country's current political status.
"Glory To The Heroic Officers And Soldiers Of The Korean People’s Army."
In order to comprehend what’s happening right now, we have to travel back in time to 1948, when Korea was split in two: North and South. From this moment on, North Korea adopted a very radical posture, isolating themselves from the rest of the world. People don't have access to anything that comes from the outside and that’s how they've lived there ever since. Looking for ways to maintain order in this new kind of government, the leaders began to spread very unusual propaganda all over the country. The intention behind these messages was to stress that North Korea was a renewed and thriving republic.
"Let's all go for harvesting!"
This propaganda came in the shape of eye-catching posters that included a variety of messages, which could go from manifesting hatred towards other countries, promoting farming and big families, to encouraging unity among military forces. These posters could be found everywhere in North Korea: on the street, in public buildings, schools, and farms. These political posters are a big part of North Korean culture. They celebrate their beliefs, ideology, and way of living.
"Let's extensively raise goats in all families!"
Setting aside the fact that these images suggest the ideal way of living and thinking in this country, propaganda posters have, in artistic terms, very interesting designs. On one hand, those that openly address military and political matters use heavy color contrasts, such as red, navy blue, and white. The characters in them appear in disproportionate sizes, emphasizing certain values, and how they express their self-image. On the other hand, the posters that talk about farming, gardening, and scientific developments use lighter color palettes with baby blue, light browns, and yellows, and portray more everyday characters.
The use of these colors isn’t coincidental. When conveying more striking messages, they use more “aggressive” and eye-catching colors, and for less commanding but still relevant information, a warmer set of colors can make the reader feel the idea closer and more familiar.
What makes North Korean propaganda posters special is not just their colors, but also what they say about the country itself. Judging from the images, we see how defensive and persistent their ideas are when it comes to war and the US. We may think it’s maybe too explicit or aggressive, but this is their perspective of the outside world. So even though it’s very different from ours we have to be very respectful of it. Fortunately, there are also other images that show the flip side of the coin. For instance, North Korea supports farming as an important activity for their society. They encourage people to breed goats and rabbits themselves as an everyday activity. They see science as the driving force to a brighter future. So, in the end, it’s not only about war and violence, it’s about who they are and how they see themselves in all aspects.
"Prevention and more prevention. Let's fully establish a veterinary system for the prevention of epidemics!"
These posters are very educational examples on North Korean history. They say a lot about how this country sees itself in political and social terms, what are their main motivations, and what their inhabitants are doing to stand out from the rest of the world. Overall, it’s an artistic statement with informative purposes.
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