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Asia Minute: North Korea and Madmen: the Advertising Kind

Matt Paish / Flickr
Matt Paish / Flickr
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The United States and China will face off Friday in the quarterfinals of the women’s world cup soccer tournament.  That match will draw global media attention, but you may have missed a smaller development in world cup soccer. This one involves North Korea and advertising. HPR’s Bill Dorman explains in today’s Asia Minute.

When you think of North Korea and “Madmen”…you may not be thinking of advertising.  You might consider propaganda.  Like North Korea’s government releasing new slogans this year—including the exhortation to “let the strong wind of fish farming blow across the country.”

But North Korea’s not a market that immediately comes to mind when you think of consumer advertising….or consumers, for that matter.  Now, change may be afoot on the soccer field.  North Korea’s men’s team is going through the qualifying rounds for the 2018 World Cup…and when state television showed its latest game against Uzbekistan, stadium billboards showed up in the background.

The Chosun Ilbo newspaper reports it’s the first time that’s ever happened.  About a dozen North Korean businesses were advertised including a trading company, even a few foreign firms.  Advertising may officially be a capitalist concept carrying corrupt characteristics of market economics, but it’s not entirely new in North Korea.  Six years ago, state run television launched its first beer commercial nearly three minutes in length.  The Associated Press translated portions, promoting a state-owned brewer producing beer that relieves stress, while improving health.  The commercial played just after the news.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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