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Current U.S./North Korea Dispute Revolves Around Mickey Mouse

A recent performance in North Korea has captured the attention of U.S. State Department officials, though not for the usual reasons. This time the problem centers on the North Koreans use of Disney cartoon characters in a nationally televised concert event for the benefit of the reclusive country’s new leader, Kim Jong Un.

The realities of the current diplomatic situation meant hat the State Department is unable to raise the issue in the typical way. State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said that since Washington and North Korea do not have diplomatic relations the State Department would be unable to formally file a complaint. He instead settled for vaguely asking that the North Koreans follow international law and respect intellectual property rights.

North Korean state television stirred up the controversy after earlier this week broadcasting a show where performers were dressed as Minnie Mouse, Tigger, Winnie the Pooh and other characters dancing against a backdrop of footage from Disney movies. The Walt Disney Co. says it did not authorize the performance.

The move was seen as an unusual and possibly significant departure for the incredibly isolated nation. Experts believe that the decision is meant to project an image of youth and modernity for the new leader. North Korea’s young dictator, still only in his 20s, is taking unprecedented steps to breathe some fun into his repressive regime.

The unusual gala performance took place on Saturday and featured other emblems of American pop culture including a rendition of Walt Disney’s “It’s A Small World” and Frank Sinatra’s famous “My Way.” Also showcased at the concert was the “Rocky” theme song including showed clips of Sylvester Stallone boxing against his cold war, Communist rival Ivan Drago in “Rocky IV.” Appearing to glorify a popular American entertainment icon is an unusual move for Pyongyang, which regularly unleashes harsh tirades against the United States and its cultural icons.

Source:US chides NKorea over unauthorized performance of Disney favorites for Kim Jong,” by The Associated Press, published at

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