A North Korean television broadcast featuring Mickey Mouse and other Disney characters appears to be a sign that the country’s new leader, Kim Jong-un, is warming up — even just a tiny bit — to Western culture, The New York Times reports. But Disney appears to be less than amused about the unauthorized use of its trademarked characters.
Disney issued only a terse statement, saying through spokeswoman Zenia Mucha: “This was not licensed or authorized by the Walt Disney Company.”
The report notes: “The appearance of the characters from the United States, North Korea’s mortal enemy, was remarkable fare on tightly controlled North Korean television, which usually shows more somber and overtly political programs.”
The story adds: “As with many things in the North’s bellicose and reclusive Stalinist government, Mr. Kim’s rationale was a mystery, but there was a hint that the performance might be significant. An article about the performance by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency said that Mr. Kim, who took over after the death in December of his father, Kim Jong-il, had a ‘grandiose plan to bring a dramatic turn in the field of literature and arts this year.’”
In addition to Mickey Mouse, the telecast included costumed performers representing Minnie Mouse, Tigger, Winnie the Pooh and other Disney characters. The figures performed in front of Kim and “an entourage of clapping generals,” the report notes.
The article adds: “The footage included a segment with a broadly smiling Mr. Kim — with his marked resemblance to his revered grandfather, Kim Il-sung, the nation’s founder — gesturing like a symphony conductor as he gave guidance on music and art to what appeared to be a half-dozen North Korean reporters busily scribbling in notebooks, one of them in a military uniform.”
Here’s some video of the event from U.K.’s The Telegraph — perhaps entertaining in unintended ways, from a Western standpoint: