North Korean Dreams of America: New Translation

By Breeanne Howe

It is no surprise that North Korea isn’t a fan of the United States, however, a recent video has lead Americans to question how the country sees our relations going forward.

In response to new sanctions introduced by the UN after their December rocket launch, North Korea has been threatening a third nuclear test sometime in the near future.  In the midst of analyzing when they will execute their next prohibited test, the country released an online video that many perceived to be a veiled threat against the United States.

In the video a North Korean man is seen sleeping, his video camera lying beside him while a piano version of “We Are The World” plays in the background.  The viewer is then taken into the man’s dream, in which Unha-9, a newer version of the rocket Unha-3 that North Korea launched in December, successfully launches.  Through what appears to be his camera lens, a reunified Korea is then seen from space before a space shuttle, named Kwangmyongsong-21 after the Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite put in to orbit via the Unha-3, flies over a United States, which is in flames.  While an American Flag flies overhead, the viewer is flown through an animated Manhattan skyline interrupted with fires flaring from buildings.  The scene is actually from a popular video game, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, and was the reason the video was removed from YouTube; The video game maker, Activision, filed a copyright complaint and the original video was taken down Tuesday.  After stars sprinkle like confetti in space while the space shuttle appears to be doing victory laps, the video circles back to footage of the new rocket again being launched and ends with the sleeping man.  Text appear throughout the video so the viewer doesn’t misinterpret the messages.

Either because they don’t have the full translation or they don’t find the full translation to be relevant, some in the media have presented the video as North Korea perhaps hoping to attack the United States in the future.  However, closer inspection of the portions translated, combined with the overall video emphasizing North Korea’s high tech future, do not seem to indicate a North Korean invasion.  According to The New York Times, the Korean text reads from the sleeping man’s perspective.  It begins with him claiming, “I had a dream last night, a dream of soaring into space on board our Unha-9 rocket.”  He goes on to explain, “Our Kwangmyongsong-21 spacecraft got separated from the rocket and traveled through space… I see stars and the green Earth. I also see a unified Korea.”  While the focus is on the United States, the video states “Meanwhile, I see black smoke billowing somewhere in America, it seems that the nest of wickedness is ablaze.”  The text goes on to say, “It appears that the headquarters of evil, which has had a habit of using force and unilateralism and committing wars of aggression, is going up in flames it itself has ignited.”  An alternative translation has the text reading, “It looks like this den of iniquity,  given over solely to aggressive wars of tyranny and despotism,  is burning in a fire it has lit.”  In either case, while the video conveys a message of happiness in the downfall of America, the  source of our destruction (other than our own evildoing) is not indicated.  The video concludes with the man saying, “Just imagine riding in a Korean spaceship.  One day, my dream will surely come true, despite attempts by imperialists to isolate and stifle us, they will not stop our people’s path toward our final victory of achieving a unified, strong and prosperous Korea.”

Considering the fact that the vast majority of North Koreans are denied access to the internet, the country obviously posted the video for the rest of the world to view.  Yet for all of North Korea’s wild aspirations, they don’t appear to believe it necessary for them to destroy America; they think we’ll do it to ourselves.  If anyone plays a hand in their vision of our undoing, they don’t find it relevant enough to include in the video.  Perhaps they don’t believe President Obama has issued enough international apologies to ensure our security.  Or maybe they’re just upset they haven’t received one… yet.