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March 20, 2015

Scholastic Now Shilling for... Kim Jong-un and North Korea


While recently book browsing at a local Barnes & Noble, I noticed a strange addition to the bookshelf holding children’s guides to foreign countries. The Scholastic Children’s Press has a series called "A True Book," and one stood out: "A True Book About North Korea." I immediately reacted in horror: how could the children’s book company delicately explain gulags, slave labor, or a militaristic society which starves its people while lavishing luxury goods on its ruler?

Of course, the book explained none of these things. It was as if Kim Jong-un himself had written a children’s guide to his great kingdom. Scholastic has printed a brochure for North Korea filled with outright lies, not to mention lies of omission. The back cover even exclaims, "ALL NEW ALL TRUE!" for irony's sake. Variations of this "TRUE" exclamation appear several times, even in the index.

It was with horror that I read this description of the Hermit Kingdom on the book’s back cover: "The capital city has an excellent subway system. It is decorated with wall paintings and chandeliers.”"Before even opening the book it was clear it would be completely unfaithful to what life is like in North Korea.

There are, in fact, just two subway stations that seem to meet this description. They are the only two stations foreigners are ever brought to. North Korean officials claim the whole system looks like this, but it’s impossible to know if any other stations even exist. One foreign visitor was able to escape his minders and tried to make his way into a station never before visited by an outsider. He found it closed. Some North Korea watchers believe parts of the system exist, but none are in use, and that there is just a shuttle that runs between the two show stations while visitors are present, with actors playing the part of busy commuters. The elaborate game North Koreans play to keep the illusion of a working system in place is straight out of 'The Truman Show.'


Scholastic claims Pyongyang is filled with modern apartment buildings and architecture. The truth is, many buildings are simply unfinished outer shells. One of the most iconic buildings, a hotel in the center of the city, cannot be completed because of what is believed to have been flawed architectural planning. The windows can't have glass installed because of poor design, and an elevator cannot be installed for the same reason. It was under construction while North Koreans starved in the 1990s. Now it sits empty.

It just keeps going.

From Community, when Chang took over the school and installed himself as a Charismatic Warlord in the tradition of the Kims of North Korea:

digg this
posted by Ace at 01:02 PM

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