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Paper Monitor

11:35 UK time, Thursday, 31 May 2012

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Tell the truth now. When news broke last December of the death of Kim Jong-il, did you or did you not react by thinking something like "oh... so ronery"?

Well, Team America: World Police fans, the Sun has news for you.

Two of its journalists have been reporting from North Korea - or, as the red-top put it on Wednesday:

EXCLUSIVE: SUN MEN TRICK WAY INTO SECRETIVE STATE
INSIDE NORTH KOREA
  • Lights all go out at 11pm
  • Gum is given as change
  • Don't know Jacko's dead

That's right. "North Koreans are so cut off that they did not even know that Michael Jackson had died."

It's this sort of killer factlet that holds a mirror up to the secretive state in a way that news reports on food shortages and missile launches do not.

The pair, who posed as businessmen for a week, also noted the downtrodden mood among the populace.

"Nobody was smiling and most people were walking alone in a zombie-like state, staring at the floor."

(Sounds rather like Paper Monitor's daily commute. There are even badges. But instead of the badges mainly reading "Baby on board", in North Korea everyone wears one adorned with the late Dear Leader.)

Today's instalment is headlined:

INSIDE SECRETIVE STATE: ANIMALS MADE TO SKATE
North Korea's got talent

The Sun's men in Pyongyang were taken to "the sickest show on earth" - a circus where gaudily-dressed bears and baboons perform on rollerskates for an audience presumably under orders to applaud on cue.

Dancing dog in Britain's Got Talent

Sounds vaguely familiar.


A sidebar describes how Sun photographer Simon Jones entered the three-day North Korean Golf Open - the "most exclusive tournament in world sport" - and won.

"[Simon] joked afterwards: 'It's got to be the only sporting event in the world where just getting into the country is tougher than winning it. I just hope I can get the trophy back to Britain.'"

Aptly, it's the same tournament in which the late Kim Jong-il is said to have shot 38 under par the first time he put club to ball.

Simon's win will no doubt go down in Sun lore in much the same way.

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