Thursday, October 21, 2010

Anti-American Art: Addressee Unknown

Here's a stamp from North Korea, vintage 1978. It's part of a series marking the thirtieth anniversary of the People's Democratic Republic. It shows hot-pink-colored Koreans at a demonstration bearing placards and banners in Korean about reunification. Peeking out from behind the main banner is a placard in English, partialy obscured, which reads AMERICANS GET OUT OF SOUTH KOREA. It's jarring to see English appear like this. As can be seen from the North Korean propaganda stamps I've featured previously, these tiny posters entirely in Korean seem aimed at a domestic audience. Yet here's this stamp in the language of the "addressee."

And yet it was a completely futile message: in 1978 it was illegal according to U.S. treasury regulation to import North Korean goods including postage stamps into the United States. This embargo was lifted in the 1990s, although numerous other trade sanctions remain. But in 1978, the message the North Koreans were sending was not being received by its intended audience.

Click on the image to see it larger.

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