U.S. invaded by Kim Jong-un’s unified Korea in new video game

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U.S. invaded by Kim Jong-un’s unified Korea in new video game

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s heir-apparent son takes over the helm of his destitute communist country in 2012. He reunites the two Koreas, for which he is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, but takes further aim at world domination.

The 20-something son, Kim Jong-un, who in real life is still being groomed to succeed his father as the country’s next leader, reunites Korea and it’s his army that you, the main character, must shoot down in a new U.S. video game currently on sale worldwide.

Homefront, a first-person shooter designed by New York-based Kaos Studios and published by THQ Inc., is the latest North Korea-themed video game. In it, Kim Jong-un assumes the role of virtual bad guy under a highly speculative premise.

Since its release in North America, Australia, Europe and Japan in mid-March, more than 1 million units have been sold, with 2.4 million copies shipped to retailers, according to THQ’s latest tallies. The game is blocked from being sold in South Korea.

“We’re very pleased with strong worldwide shipments and sell-through for Homefront, and we continue to fulfill new retail orders for the game across the globe,” THQ President Brian Farrell said in a statement.

What distinguishes this new video game from previous North Korea-themed ones is that Kim Jong-il’s third and youngest son outstrips his in-the-flesh counterpart to the ultimate commandership and even leapfrogs his father in becoming a charismatic and ambitious leader akin to Adolf Hitler.

The real-life son made his worldwide debut last year by being named a four-star general of the North’s Korean People’s Army and was appointed to other top posts in the ruling Workers’ Party.

Kim Jong-un’s two older brothers apparently fell out of favor for reasons outsiders can only speculate about.

Other than the Pyongyang-propagated information, very little is known about Kim Jong-un except that he studied in Switzerland when he was a teen and is a big fan of retired basketball player Michael Jordan.

Many outside analysts equate Kim Jong-un’s debut in the video game industry to his debut in the sea of pop culture zeitgeist, in which the image of his 69-year-old father has been no more than a maniacal, unapologetic dictator.

Being a mind-numbing shooter at heart, veteran screenwriter John Milius, who had penned such attention-arousing films as “Apocalypse Now” and “Red Dawn,” fleshed out the video game, with consulting from Tae Kim, a former CIA field operations officer.

In the game, the player assumes the role of a group of American resistance fighters in a fictional 2027 continental U.S. that has become occupied by the Greater Korean Republic, the name of the unified Korea, under Kim Jong-un.
The new Korean dictator even wins the Nobel Peace Prize for reuniting the peninsula, but his ambitions don’t stop there. The Greater Korean Republic builds a massive alliance in East Asia and eventually takes over all U.S. states west of the Mississippi River. Throughout the game, players are constantly reminded of - through storytelling and graphic presentation - the cold-hearted violence and human carnage that ensues during war and occupation.

Jumping back to the real world, Kim Jong-un’s sudden rise in North Korea’s power hierarchy sets the stage for the third-generation power transfer in the country. Kim Jong-il took over the throne when his father died in 1994.

While the extreme nature of North Korea as portrayed in the plot serves as a strong selling point of the video game, some analysts in Seoul note that it may offer a sense of legitimacy for another father-to-son power succession in the isolated country.

“The plot can serve as great publicity for Kim Jong-un,” Dong Yong-seung, a senior researcher at the Samsung Economic Research Institute, said in an interview. “I’m not sure if the creators took aim at that or not, but to the audience, it effectively promotes Kim Jong-un.”

He said, however, that publicity from the video game can cut both ways, good or bad.

The game, which runs on the premise that Kim Jong-un is a gruesome but charismatic leader, also stokes questions regarding his as-yet-untested leadership and temperament.

“The portrayal of Kim Jong-un and the KPA in the game, according to what I’ve read, seems to be built upon the preconceived character of his father in Western pop culture,” said Lee Woo-young, who also teaches about North Korea at the same university.

“The [stereotypical] notion that Kim Jong-un is probably not much different from his father seems only natural,” since the world has little knowledge about him, Lee said.

Despite its dominant position in the world’s online gaming industry, Homefront is blocked from being sold in South Korea.

According to South Korea’s state-run Game Rating Board, THQ has not filed the required paperwork for the game to be sold here. By law, all video and computer games must undergo a review from the GRB before being sold here. Queries sent multiple times to THQ via e-mail received no reply.

The South Korean game rating board in the past has blocked sales of North Korea-themed games, such as Ghost Recon 2 and Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, which depict North Koreans as diabolical enemies.

The strict regulatory control does not mean that South Korean gamers have no access to Homefront. They can easily purchase smuggled versions through local game parlors.

Yonhap News Agency had no problem purchasing a copy of the game at a videogame retailer in Seoul, but some shop owners were clearly discreet, worried about a possible crackdown by regulators.


한글 관련 기사 [연합]
"北이 한일 점령후 美본토 공격 게임 곧 출시"
2027년 북한이 한국과 일본을 점령하고 미국 본토를 공격한다는 내용의 비디오 게임이 미국과 유럽에서 곧 출시된다고 자유아시아방송(RFA)이 24일 전했다.

RFA에 따르면 이 게임은 김정일 국방위원장이 2012년 사망하고 후계자 김정은이 권력을 승계한 뒤 2013년 한국, 2018년 일본을 각각 침공해 항복을 받고, 2027년 전자기기 파괴탄으로 미국의 전기통신망을 마비시키고선 하와이와 미 서부를 공격해 전면전을 벌인다는 설정으로 돼 있다.

게임에는 가상의 김정은이 권력승계 후 "우리 공화국은 통일을 가져올 것이고 경제와 산업의 발전을 가져올 것"이라고 말하는 장면도 담겼다고 RFA는 소개했다.

이 게임을 제작한 미국 THQ사의 마이클 스미스 대변인은 RFA와 통화에서 "이 게임은 미국과 유럽에서 내달 15일 출시하지만 한국에서는 판매하지 않는다"며 "일본에서는 김정일, 김정은의 모습을 빼고 북한군을 미국 북부 어느 나라의 군대로 설정을 바꿔 판매한다"고 말했다.

RFA는 "한국의 게임물등급위원회는 게임 제작사가 심의 신청을 하지 않아 판매금지처분을 내린 적이 없다"고 전했다.

한편 THQ사는 3월 초 미국 샌프란시스코에서 인민군복을 입은 사람을 거리에 등장시켜 북한이 미국을 침공하는 게임 속의 설정을 실제로 연출할 계획이다.
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