[FOUNTAIN]2 ways of seeing North Korea in ads

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[FOUNTAIN]2 ways of seeing North Korea in ads

The purpose of an advertisement is to persuade people. To achieve this purpose, ads try to touch the lives of consumers. For this reason, some people refer to advertising as a mirror that reflects the character of the people of a certain time. People in the business reckon the 3Bs as the most effective way to grab the consumers’ attention and interest. 3B stands for Baby, Beast and Beauty. There are not that many people who feel uncomfortable when seeing a baby, and there are not many who dislike animals and beauties.
Another trend seen these days are “anti-ads,” which run counter to mainstream ads and try to persuade people indirectly by showing gruesome reality or using opposition to existing values as their theme. This is an effort to penetrate the crack where people are getting tired of the dreamlike phony world the mainstream ads present.
Italian Diesel Jeans has used North Korea, which was suffering from food shortage in 1997, in its commercial. The two-minute television spot, “A Day in Pyongyang” is about a North Korean guy who dresses up in Diesel Jeans and goes to work at a factory. He is arrested for not dressing up in a Mao suit and is thrown out of work. As a result, the guy decides to commit suicide.
This commercial was aired only in Europe and the United States. In a recent newspaper ad, Diesel used Peter Gehrke’s photograph of North Korea. In it, North Koreans are shown frantically trying to get on an already packed bus. On the side of the bus, there’s a poster of a beautiful woman wearing a pair of Diesel jeans. Next to the svelte model it says, “There is no limit on how thin you can get.” The company used starvation in North Korea to promote its jeans’ image. Even though the ad was re-garded by some as an immoral act, it was quite popular.
Recently, Cho Myung-ae, a dancer of Mansudae Art Troupe of North Korea was cast for the model of Anycall cellular phone commercial. The commercial starring Ms. Cho starts airing in a month and is typical of how 3B is used. It prompts wonder about the response the 3B ad will bring in South Korea since the North Korean model they have found comes from a country frequently used as a subject in anti-ads.


by Lee Se-jung

The writer is a deputy economic news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.

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