纽约时报 | 朝鲜的“口红外交”

North Korea’s Lipstick Diplomacy 朝鲜的“口红外交” SEOUL, South […]

North Korea’s Lipstick Diplomacy

SEOUL, South Korea ― When North Korea’s 22 Olympians compete in Pyeongchang this month, they won’t be alone: Accompanying them will be 230 young North Korean women, all of them at least 5 feet 3 inches, all of them deemed “pretty” by the state.


Western news outlets have taken to calling these women an “army of beauties”; in South Korea, they are often “beautiful cheerleaders.” In reality, they are mostly students, selected from upper-class families in Pyongyang for their loyalty to the party, their musical talent and their looks. These women are deployed abroad by the regime on special occasions, when it wants to show its best face ― or best faces, rather ― to the world.


The use of pretty young women to represent North Korea is not new. In addition to the cheerleaders, there is the Moranbong band, the all-female music group whose members are handpicked by Kim Jong-un. There are North Korea’s state-run overseas restaurants, which exist to raise foreign cash and which visitors frequent less for the food and more for the novelty of being served by young North Korean waitresses who sing and dance in nightly shows.


For the regime, good looks are just another asset that citizens are obliged to wield on behalf of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea ― no surprise there. What is more disturbing is the way the outside world, and particularly South Korea, embraces these displays of state-promulgated sexism.


In fact, the North Korean cheer squad gained international notice only because of South Korea. During a 2006 speech at Pusan University, the South Korean president at the time, Kim Dae-jung, recounted the story: The mayor of Pusan was worried that the 2002 Asian Games, hosted by his city, would be poorly attended. The mayor brought up the possibility of North Korean athletes’ participating as an attention-grabbing ploy; Kim Dae-jung did him one better, sending a special envoy to the North’s leader, Kim Jong-il, to ask him to send not only athletes but cheering fans as well.

事实上,朝鲜的啦啦队只是因为韩国才受到国际关注。2006年,韩国时任总统金大中(Kim Dae-jung)在釜山大学(Pusan University)演讲时讲述了这样一个故事:2002年釜山亚运会上,釜山市长担心观众太少,提出能不能把朝鲜运动员的参与作为吸引关注的策略。金大中更进了一步,他派一名特使拜访朝鲜领导人金正日(Kim Jong-il),要求他不仅派出运动员,还要派出欢呼的观众。

“Make sure the cheerleaders are pretty girls,” Kim Dae-jung said. Kim Jong-il complied, sending over 288 just such women. The students broke into applause when Kim Dae-jung concluded his account by saying how pleased he was with the outcome: The girls were pretty, the games were a success, and the city of Pusan made money.


The South’s fascination with North Korea’s cheerleaders is an extension of its attitude toward North Korean women in general: It views them as exotic, enigmatic, charming in their naïveté.


During past visits, the South Korean media have showered praise on the women for their “pure, innocent beauty,” as if they were farm girls from the hills and not the elite from their country’s capital. Plastic surgery is among South Korea’s biggest industries; these Northern women are held up, by contrast, as representatives of natural Korean beauty ― despite the presence of plenty of plastic surgery among the North Korean elite as well.


On Wednesday, within hours of the cheerleaders’ arrival, photos of them had begun appearing on South Korean news. But there are some signs that North Korea’s lipstick diplomacy isn’t as effective as it once was. Thirteen years since the cheerleaders’ last visit to the South in 2005, some of their exoticism has worn off. Over 30,000 defectors now live in South Korea, and they’ve helped remove some of the sense of mystery. At the same time, reality TV shows featuring North Korean women ― called “defector beauties” ― telling all about their lives back home or participating in “The Bachelor”-type searches for love have chipped away at the sense of the North as a land of innocents.

周三,在啦啦队到来后的几个小时里,她们的照片已经开始出现在韩国的新闻上。但有迹象表明,朝鲜的口红外交并不像以前那样有效。自啦啦队上一次于2005年访问韩国以来,已经过去了13年的时间,她们的一些异国情调已经磨灭。如今,有超过三万名脱北者居住在韩国,他们也有助于消除一些神秘感。与此同时,一些电视真人秀以被称为“美女脱北者”的朝鲜女性为主角,讲述她们在朝鲜的所有生活,或是让她们参与《单身汉》(The Bachelor)式的寻爱节目,这都令人们不再感到朝鲜是一个充满天真无邪的人的国度。

The younger generation of South Koreans not only have more exposure to the North but are more jaded about the united-Korea propaganda that the cheerleaders represent. They’re also more aware of sexist dynamics: Younger Koreans are outraged, for example, that the South Korean women’s hockey team ― but not the men’s ― has been forced to reshuffle its lineup at the last minute to incorporate 12 North Korean players, thus sacrificing Southern players’ dreams for the sake of politics. This generation also had its own version of #MeToo in October 2016, a full year before the first Harvey Weinstein stories.

年轻一代的韩国人不仅有了更多了解朝鲜的机会,而且日益厌倦了啦啦队所代表的朝韩两国联合政治宣传。他们也更加关注性别歧视的迹象:例如,韩国女子冰球队――而不是男子冰球队――在最后时刻被迫重组自己的阵容,将12名朝鲜球员纳入其中,为了政治目的而牺牲韩国球员的梦想,这令韩国年轻人感到愤慨。2016年10月,这一代韩国人就已经有了自己的“#我也是”(#MeToo)版本,远在哈维・韦恩斯坦(Harvey Weinstein)的第一个故事曝光整整一年前。

And yet, if the public response to visits to South Korea by a former lead singer of Moranbong, Hyun Song-wol, is any indication, a pretty young woman from the right Pyongyang family need not yet worry.

然而,至少从公众对牡丹峰乐团前领唱玄松月(Hyun Song-wol)访韩的反应来看,这位年轻漂亮、出身平壤良好家庭的女人完全不用担心。

Ms. Hyun arrived in Seoul on Jan. 21 for two days as part of a North Korean delegation. She returned for a second trip this month. The excitement surrounding her visits has been so elevated that the media coined the phrase “Hyun Song-wol syndrome.” Most coverage consisted of detailed analyses of her appearance: a fox stole and a dark coat, her “intense eyes,” her “imposing smile.”


The news programs ran endless close-ups of her face. Perhaps that’s because she hardly said anything. Perhaps that’s because she had been specifically selected by her country to pose before foreign cameras, look pleasant and distract the world from the fact that no matter how picture-perfect the athletes appear as they march under one flag at the opening ceremony of the Games, it’s been just five months since North Korea conducted its sixth nuclear test.


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