A video depicting poverty in America, as seen through the eyes of North Korea has swept through the Internet today, igniting a firestorm of reposts throughout social media and the blogosphere. The video, which has already been viewed hundreds of thousands of times since its release a few days ago, depicts modern America as a wrecked and downtrodden nation. The video is excellently accompanied with a voice over by a nonplussed sounding British man that makes some outstanding claims about American society. For example, did you know that in America, people drink “coffee made from snow” and “eat birds” because they are so destitute? The video and its voice over are hilarious to say the least and a must watch for any junkie of North Korean news. Major media outlets have even picked up on this soon to be viral hit . Wired, Slate, the Daily Mail, and Business Insider are just a few media sources that have ran articles which take this video and its accompanying voice over at face value and as serious news to report on. The only problem with what they are reporting is that this video has pure troll written all over it and the commentary provided was likely there just for the lulz.
According to the website Peninsularity Ensues, which has generously translated the contents of this video, the media has gotten this story completely wrong. Check out what is actually being said in the video and compare it to what the media is reporting on as being said:
(0.11) Lately in America, Europe and capitalist countries, the gulf between the rich and poor is widening still further, fuelled not in small part by racial discrimination.
(0.20) The normal people are so poor and hungry… they are anxious, are suffering and in fear.
Caption (0.29) – Western countries have so many homeless people.
(0.38) Heavy snow falls everywhere, but there is no shelter for many people.
(0.50) Last year in America during Hurricane Sandy, many people lost their homes and remain homeless to this day. Conditions are freezing in the streets.
(1.02) After the hurricane, on the east side of America many people are now living in tents.
(1.13) The politicians don’t care about these people – they only care about the next election. The last American election has now finished, though the politicians still don’t care. The people were told that the problems would be solved after the election, though nothing has changed.
(1.30) This is Wisconsin, in the Mid-west of the United States. It has been a severe winter with heavy snowfalls and the temperature is –10 degrees.
(1.42) Many people have no jobs and cannot afford housing, so they now live on the street.
(1.56) The people really, desperately wish and hope to find jobs. This is all they can think of.
(2.03) Here in America there are 1,500,000 homeless children wandering the streets.
(2.13) Not only in America, but also in Europe there are major problems.
(2.20) This is Bucharest, Romania. Many of the homeless people live near the subway stations, where volunteer groups provide them with one piece of bread. There are long queues. The people stand in the bread line from early morning.
(2.40) Of two million people in this city, 5,000 homeless people live in the subway stations.
(2.48) The homeless wander the city, scrounging food where they can.
(2.55) In the time of socialism, all people had homes and jobs… now these people miss these things.
(3.02) In Romania, around 300 people die each winter due to hunger and exposure to the elements, and diseases resulting from such circumstances. This is the result of capitalism.
(3.15) Also in Budapest, Hungary, there are numerous hungry people in the streets with no shelter. They cover themselves with whatever they can. There are shelters available, though not enough to provide for everyone, thus they are in the street.
(3.35) There are a great many tourists in the city, though even in the daytime, the homeless people have no shame and lie in the streets with nowhere to go. This country has no plan and cannot solve its problems.
(3.47) Here in Budapest there are at least 1,500 homeless people, wandering the streets.
(3.59) Their country gave them two official places of shelter, though there is far greater demand than what these two facilities can provide.
(4.12) The foreign press states that capitalism provides sufficient welfare, but there are limits to what can be provided, and these countries cannot solve the problems of the chronic disease, which is the inequitable distribution of wealth.
If you ask me, the North Koreans are not too far off from what’s actually taking place in many western countries in regards to poverty. However, if this video has any meaning whatsoever, it is likely the North Korean leadership gazing at itself in the mirror, in a vain attempt to appease its own downtrodden population and show them that their lives could be worse than they are. It is propaganda film at its finest. That being said, it’s the media’s responsibility to get the story straight before they get trolled by the king of all tinpot dictatorships.
So did North Korea troll mainstream media? To be honest, this video is likely the work of a westerner with a wicked sense of humor, that keenly took advantage of the geo-political mess Korea finds itself in at the present time and had a laugh at the situation. This has nothing to do with North Korea and everything to do with a man that had entirely too much time on his hands. Lesson learned: before you post, make sure you are not the butt of someone’s joke, maybe even North Korea’s. And for God’s sake – learn the language of the video you are posting, or at least have it translated before you run with it as fact.
In all seriousness, there is a lot of poverty in America that goes unaddressed and is often times ignored by the media. Things must be really rough if a country that starves its people to death are making documentaries about poverty in the States. Cheers to North Korea and their crack investigative “journalism” team and to mainstream media for buying into this video hook, line and sinker and getting this serious problem some attention in the press. Sometimes it takes some humor and a bit of trolling to bring the truth out into the open. You both made my day. Best quote from the video – “This is how they live in modern day America, huddled together – the poor, the cold, the lonely, and the homosexuals.”
Update: The Huffington Post has finally gotten the story straight on this video – apparently the clip used in the video was taken by British travel writer Alun Hill from the North Korean Central News Agency’s Youtube page. Even more depressing is the video was originally posted on Hill’s Youtube account with the title “North Korea Comedy Show: How Americans Live Today, Survive By Eating Birds And Snow”. It appears that it wouldn’t have been at all too difficult for those that reported this story as true to get to the bottom of this “hoax”. Unfortunately, it seems that in this day and age, it’s pretty much par for the course for major media to just report stories verbatim instead of doing real journalism. Ultimate lesson learned: Take everything you read on the on the Internet with a grain of salt, even if it comes from an apparently “reliable” source.