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United States Games News Politics

Rupert Murdoch Publishes North Korean Flash Games 186

eldavojohn writes "You might recall back in June when it was noted that North Korea was developing and exporting flash games. Now, the isolated nation state is apparently home to some game developers that are being published by a subsidiary of News Corp. (The games include Big Lebowski Bowling and Men In Black). Nosotek Joint Venture Company is treading on thin ice in the eyes of a few academics and specialists that claim the Fox News owner is 'working against US policy.' Concerns grow over the potential influx of cash, creating better programmers that are then leveraged into cyberwarfare capabilities. Nosotek said that 'training them to do games can't bring any harm.' The company asserts its innocence, though details on how much of the games were developed in North Korea are sparse. While one of the poorest nations in the world could clearly use the money, it remains to be seen if hardliner opponents like the United States will treat Nosotek (and parent company News Corp.) as if they're fostering the development of computer programmers inside the DPRK. The United Nations only stipulates that cash exchanged with companies in the DPRK cannot go to companies and businesses associated with military weaponry or the arms trade. Would you feel differently about Big Lebowski Bowling if you knew it was created in North Korea?"
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Rupert Murdoch Publishes North Korean Flash Games

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  • Programmers (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DarkIye ( 875062 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @06:46AM (#33506822) Journal
    Having coded ActionScript, I can say that the claim their programmers will be improving their skills with the experience is bollocks.
  • Re:Programmers (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @06:49AM (#33506842) Homepage Journal

    Having coded ActionScript, I can say that the claim their programmers will be improving their skills with the experience is bollocks.

    Maybe its a step up from VB but its not going to turn them into elite hackers over night.

    I did wonder about flash based spyware. Could a flash app take a picture from a webcam then phone home?

  • by wonkavader ( 605434 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @06:57AM (#33506884)

    Is it currently illegal for a US company to trade with North Korea?

    Is it illegal for a multi-national which does business in the US to do so?

  • Re:Good for everyone (Score:5, Interesting)

    by alfredos ( 1694270 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @07:00AM (#33506904)

    I can tell you what did not work for us here in Spain. I'm not old enough to have lived through it, but I sure am to remember how things began to change in the yeas following the death of our dictator and our transition to democracy. Isolation does not work for anybody except, perhaps, for extraordinarily clever (and, more often than not, iron-fisted) dictators.

    You can contend that trading with an undemocratic country can strengthen the dictator. I agree with that. However, the basic needs of the people of the country are more important than the dictator, or lack thereof. First thing is food, health, education, a future; once you have all that, you can go with lesser important details like democracy. Democracy and dictatorship are equally as good if people is starving, or just have no future. However, when people is fed, healthy and working, democracy will eventually find its way. Look at history for a number of examples. It will be slow, but sure.

  • Re:No suprise here (Score:1, Interesting)

    by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @07:10AM (#33506940)
    If you get technical about it, his ownership of Fox was completely illegal when he bought it. It wasn't until he started buying Republican politicians that he got proper permission to own media in the US. They've since gone even further and allowed him to own more than one outlet per market.
  • Re:Good for everyone (Score:5, Interesting)

    by antifoidulus ( 807088 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @07:21AM (#33506976) Homepage Journal
    It may not be as bad as the US paints it but its certainly a lot worse than the North Koreans paint it. Your "trip" to North Korea consists entirely of an agenda planned by the government specifically designed to show off the few good parts of North Korea and keep you as far away from ordinary North Koreans as possible. You are forced to bow to a statue of Kim Il Sung. If you go out wandering on your own or say something that could be considered critical of the North Korean government you will get kicked out of the country and your guide will be in for a LOT worse. No other country on the PLANET restricts travel this much. Obviously there is something really, REALLY wrong with North Korea.

    It's obvious you have an anti-US sentiment but you shouldn't let that cloud your judgement of North Korea.They It's a really, REALLY shitty place for those not lucky enough to be born into a wealthy, well connected family(irony!). Famine killed at least 10% of the population in the 1990s, the # of refugees willing to risk their life to escape to China where they pretty much know they will be treated as a slave is staggering, so obviously that tells you how bad it is in North Korea.
  • Not sure about that (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @07:48AM (#33507062) Journal

    Not so sure about that. From what I can gather, most of the anger against the governments in Eastern Europe -- at least after the point where Stalin died and his ham-fisted brutal oppression was replaced by a more "big brother is watching you!" kind of approach -- had to do with shortages, queues to buy just about anything, etc. And to make it seem even worse, an illusion carefully maintained by western propaganda (e.g., Radio Free Europe) that basically the western world is a land of milk and honey where there is no poverty, no problems, everyone is happy, and generally it's freaking rapture on Earth.

    But the point is, most people didn't care all that much about democracy or freedoms or such. Most except a few idealists were actually pretty ok with a sort of an implied "covenant" so to speak, that if you don't rock the boat too hard, the secret police will probably leave you alone. If you could give them enough food for their children and a decent life standard -- and maybe stop that propaganda machine, if you're now friends with their government and happy to let it manufacture your shoes and iPods -- I think most people could have lived just as happily without democracy or private initiative at all.

    You also have to understand that after Stalin keeping them in line was more based on chilling effect than anything. Stalin's brutal purges and mass executions had been replaced with a more passive-aggressive game, where the government has a dossier on you somewhere, and it's unpredictable when, if or how it will bite you in the arse. Big brother knows if you're drinking with comrade Piotr, who swears at the government lots, and you don't know how you'll be shafted by that... maybe you'll get a one-way all-expenses-paid trip to Siberia, but maybe just your kids will never get promoted past a point, or maybe you'll just never get to travel abroad any more, or maybe nothing at all if you stop it now. That uncertainty actually seems to have worked better than the Pavlovian immediate repression that Stalin used.

    The governments there also used agents provocateur big time. The more perverse implication wasn't even that that's how that dossier happens, but basically that you don't know who's one, who can you trust, and how hard a kick in the pants you can expect if you just join the first guy shaking a fist at the beloved president. If comrade Piotr can curse at communism so much and nobody did anything, hmm, maybe he's actually filing a report about your listening to him. It majorly prevented people from getting organized.

    In fact it worked so well that even a major, vocal, anti-government critic like Sakharov didn't really need to be silenced. They only "exiled" him to another major and well supplied city, he still had a job, and other than a few "we're still watching you" shows of force by the police, really he was free to shoot his mouth some more. It didn't matter any more. People didn't rally around him anyway. They had been already conditioned that you don't join someone who's that vocal, because either he's an agent provocateur himself, or he's being watched and you don't flock around him like you don't flock in front of the Eye O' Sauron. Better stay out of that kind of spotlight.

    My take is basically that if the USA and USSR had gotten over the Cold War (yeah, I know, unlikely) and started trading happily, and letting the Russians manufacture their Nike shoes and laptop batteries, and all, there wouldn't have been any changes at all. There would have been no need for the Glasnost, and no pent up frustration to blow.

  • by mbone ( 558574 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @07:55AM (#33507088)

    Please name one boycott / trade restriction that has worked. We (the USA) have been embargoing Cuba for almost 50 years, Iran for 30, North Korea for almost 60 years. We boycotted the People's Republic of China for some 25 years (and that was a real strict boycott, comparable to the current one against the North Korea). And, of course, our oil boycott of Japan in the early 1940's lead directly to Pearl Harbor.

    After literally centuries of cumulative experience running boycotts and embargoes against various bad actors, have they ever served their purpose ? These are the foreign policy equivalent of the drug war - most people know that they are doing no good, but for some reason it is impossible to act rationally and admit it.

  • Nothing, really. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by panda ( 10044 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @07:56AM (#33507100) Homepage Journal

    Fox News is a subsidiary of News Corp., but you know that. They won't mention it.

    It would be funny if this is illegal and Murdoch and his corporations are brought up on charges of providing aid and comfort to the enemy. It would be very funny, but it won't happen.

    I think every news network should trumpet this news. That the parent corporation of Fox News is doing business with .... Communists! And not the "good" communists in China, either, but the crazy, "We want to nuke the world," "our leader is a divinity to be worshipped," communists of North Korea.

  • Re:No suprise here (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @07:57AM (#33507106) Homepage Journal

    In all fairness, speaking to dictators and hiring some of the dictator's subjects as a labor force are somewhat different things.

    However, fox News pundits seem to be willing to bite the hand that feeds them, given that one of the major News Corp owners is also a big financial backer of the "Ground Zero Mosque".

  • Re:Programmers (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tomhudson ( 43916 ) <barbara@hudson.barbara-hudson@com> on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @08:10AM (#33507150) Journal

    I did wonder about flash based spyware. Could a flash app take a picture from a webcam then phone home?

    Only if you allow it to - or if your laptop was supplied by an American school board.

    Sure, they can steal some flash cookies. But you already use a cookie blocker that takes care of both flash and regular cookies, right?

  • Re:Good for everyone (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @08:35AM (#33507274)

    Take a travel there and see yourself

    That's what this guy did:

    Guide to NK part 1 []

    Guide to NK part 2 []

    Guide to NK part 3 []

  • Re:No suprise here (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @08:46AM (#33507338)

    Not strictly true, it's NewsCorps ownership that mattered not him personally. That was the reason behind the FCC investigation and his purchase of Metromedia was in May that year, they delayed the 'official' handover a year, but that was so that Reagan could give him citizenship.

    He's an extremely dodgy man, and his Fox takeover of the Republican party via the Tea Party movement is typical of the man.

  • by julesh ( 229690 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @08:47AM (#33507344)

    Please name one boycott / trade restriction that has worked. [...] And, of course, our oil boycott of Japan in the early 1940's lead directly to Pearl Harbor

    Which led directly to the US/Japanese conflict during WWII, which led directly to a change of regime in Japan that eliminated and undid the imperialist/expansionist behaviour that had been the original reason for that embargo. You just killed your own thesis with a counterexample.

  • Re:Good for everyone (Score:5, Interesting)

    by luis_a_espinal ( 1810296 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @09:08AM (#33507484) Homepage

    A little more about traveling to North Korea. I'm living in Asia currently and as it's close to me, I plan to take a trip there this winter. During my life living in many countries I've learnt that prejudices are just those - prejudices. People always give a shittier picture about something, and when you see it yourself it's just different. That's why it's like sitting on your computer all day long and commenting on things you have absolutely no idea about - most news are onesided, and most people tell you onesided stories with extra things that might not even be true. That's why you have to see and do it yourself to actually know anything.

    How wonderful, will you get a chance to take pictures of their concentration ("reeducation") camps where tens of thousands of people (including their families for fuck's sake). If you do, please put them in facebook (and if you don't a facebook account, create one just for this occasion.)

    Oh, I almost forgot, ask your Government/Military pre-approved tourist guide to take you North Korean farmers picking up grass to make soup because they literally have nothing else. Nothing makes a better souvenir than a picture of a emaciated person eating grass.

    Hopefully, when we invent time travel, you might get a chance for a one-in-a-lifetime vacation: a trip back to Auschwitz-Birkenau and Sobibor. Who knows, you might get lucky and the administrators will time their gassing schedule to your arrival so that you can take a picture. Trip to the Bahamas or Hokkaido? Screw that!

    ps. yeah, I went there and broke Godwin's Law, get over it.

  • Re:Programmers (Score:4, Interesting)

    by WrongSizeGlass ( 838941 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @09:09AM (#33507494)

    I did wonder about flash based spyware. Could a flash app take a picture from a webcam then phone home?

    Depends on if you read stories in the /. fire hose [] or read the articles they link to. []

  • Re:Good for everyone (Score:5, Interesting)

    by antifoidulus ( 807088 ) on Wednesday September 08, 2010 @10:37AM (#33508258) Homepage Journal
    No fuckwit, I don't watch Fox News, I actually read about the world and don't blindly say, "America lies all the time!". You know what, Fox News also complains about how bad life is in other countries where the reality is a lot different. As they say a broken clock is right twice a day. Fox News complains about how bad life is in Cuba, and yet in Cuba tourists can travel the country for themselves and you have a lot of INDEPENDENTLY verified information on the status of the country(which is not great, but not nearly as bad as a lot of other countries on the planet). Ditto for Iran, Iraq(before during and after the war) etc. Saddam actually let people into the country and they could move around with (general) impunity. The country was in better shape before than war than it was after it. You won't get that report on Fox News.

    You CANNOT do that in North Korea, and I have read TONS of travel accounts(even the stuff on wikitravel) which concur, the only people that claim how wonderful North Korea is are either paid shills or just as fucktaded as you and are so convinced of how "evil" the west is that they will pretty much adopt any philosophy that opposes it, even if said philosophy is 1000000x worse than that of the west. North Korea suffered famine and still suffers severe food shortages, even the UN says that, but all but the most retarded of fuckwits, such as yourself, disagree.

Loose bits sink chips.