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North Korea’s Kim Enjoys Minnie Mouse Without Disney’s Blessing

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is a fan of Walt Disney Co. (DIS)’s Minnie Mouse and “Beauty and the Beast.” The feeling isn’t mutual.

Kim and a crew of clapping generals watched a performance on July 6 by a band whose members dressed as Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Minnie Mouse and other characters, according to footage shown on KRT, the country’s state-run television. Women in strapless gowns and black dresses performed while clips of movies such as “Beauty and the Beast” and “Dumbo” played on a paneled backdrop for the show in the capital of Pyongyang.

Disney didn’t authorize or license the totalitarian state’s use of company characters for the concert, Michelle Bergman, a spokeswoman for the Burbank, California-based company said yesterday in an e-mailed statement.

Since succeeding his late father Kim Jong Il in December, Kim further isolated his impoverished country by launching a long-range rocket in April that squelched a deal for U.S. food aid. Thought to be under 30, the new leader has worked to bolster his image through visits to military units and by rebuking officials over their management of an amusement park.

Kim has ignored U.S. and South Korean appeals to abandon his country’s nuclear program. His regime is building a new launchpad in the northwest to fire larger long-range rockets and has resumed construction of a light-water atomic reactor, according to the U.S.-Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington.

‘Grandiose Plan’

The state-run Korean Central News Agency made no mention of the Disney films or characters, saying only that the concert by the band, called Moranbong, included the traditional folk tune “Arirang” and upbeat foreign songs.

Kim “organized the Moranbong band as required by the new century, prompted by a grandiose plan to bring about a dramatic turn in the field of literature and arts this year,” KCNA said in its account of the concert. “The performers showed well the indomitable spirit and mental power of the servicepersons and people of the DPRK dashing ahead for the final victory in the drive to build a thriving nation under the guidance of Kim Jong Un.”

DPRK refers to the country’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

To contact the reporters on this story: Kelly Blessing in New York at kblessing@bloomberg.net; Sangwon Yoon in Seoul at syoon32@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net; John Brinsley at jbrinsley@bloomberg.net

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