N. Korean screed against Obama illustrates racist worldview

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SEOUL, South Korea — In a recently published and lengthy racist screed, North Korea calls President Barack Obama a "clown," a "dirty fellow" and somebody who "does not even have the basic appearances of a human being."

Propriety has never been a part of North Korean rhetoric, but rarely has Pyongyang so ferociously -- and personally -- attacked a U.S. leader, in this case pulling language right out of the American 1850s. The attack seems unabashed, except for one thing: Unlike most articles published by the North's state-run news agency, this one wasn't translated into English.

"He is a crossbreed with unclear blood," the North says.

And later: Mr. Obama "still has the figure of monkey while the human race has evolved through millions of years."

"It would be perfect for Obama to live with a group of monkeys in the world's largest African natural zoo and lick the bread crumbs thrown by spectators."

The diatribe, published Sunday by the Korean Central News Agency, almost escaped foreign attention. But Josh Stanton, who blogs regularly about the North's viciousness and rights violations, uncovered the Korean-only piece, as well as a separate, milder article that was translated into English and in which Mr. Obama was called a "wicked black monkey."

The Korean-only piece (headlined, "Divine retribution for the juvenile delinquent Obama!") featured four lengthy passages, each attributed to a regular citizen. In the North, quotations of citizens are state-sanctioned and often spoon-fed by the government's propaganda department, analysts say.

In some instances, North Korea's verbal attacks can be milked for amusement, their outrage directed at "imperialist lackeys" and "thrice-cursed stooges." But when North Korea talks about race, it's almost always important -- and telling about the state ideology.

North Korea still goes to alarming lengths to maintain its racial purity. North Korean women often cross into China looking for work or an escape; if those women are impregnated and forcibly repatriated to the North, they are subject to either forced abortions or infanticide.

Mr. Obama walked into North Korea's cross hairs after his recent visit to Asia, which included stops in Tokyo and Seoul. Washington and Pyongyang have gone more than two years without dialogue, and the North faces little risk of direct backlash for its comments.

But there are some clear contradictions in North Korea's stereotyping. The North maintains active ties with several African countries and just signed a new cooperation agreement with Nigeria. Meanwhile, North Korea earlier this year welcomed a team of former National Basketball Associations players -- most of them African-American -- for an exhibition game attended by leader Kim Jong Un.


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