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Kim Jong-il fires official over controversial ads

Nov 09,2009
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has sacked his television point man in anger over commercials that made a splash earlier this year by promoting the communist state’s beer and other local products, sources here said yesterday.

“Recently, Kim saw the commercials while watching TV. He was enraged, asking where the commercials came from and describing them as the prototype of China’s early reforms,” one source said.

Starting July 2, North Korean television played commercials that showed young women in traditional clothes serving frothy mugs of Taedonggang beer billed as the “Pride of Pyongyang.”

Other products, including ginseng and quail, soon followed in television advertisements, which had rarely been seen in the country, generating outside speculation that the North may be starting to embrace the capitalist mode of life.

But according to Yonhap News Agency’s own analysis, the commercials disappeared as of the end of August. The sources said Cha Sung-su, the North’s top broadcaster, has also been discharged.

One source said Cha may have been unduly victimized in the case because the commercials were a product of Kim’s earlier instruction to create “more interesting and diverse” television programs.

Cha, 69, is one of Kim’s closest aides, having accompanied him on public inspections at least six times since the leader reportedly had a stroke last year and then recovered. He is the North’s top television man, having served on the communist country’s broadcasting committee for about four decades. He is also known in for his numerous poems. Yonhap



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