North Korea Releases a Swarm of Cartoons Depicting the South Korean President as a Rat Being Exterminated


Cartoon by uncredited artist(s) posted online by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA)

The question is often posed to representatives of our organization, "Are there any cartoons so vile that you would not offer your support to the creator or creators of the work?"  Our response is that, in accordance with our Mission Statement, we will not offer support to the creator or creators of a cartoon advocating hate or violence.  Exactly where a strong critique of a politician or policy ends and where a hate-filled call to violence begins, can occasionally be a difficult line to draw.  There is no such difficulty when it comes to North Korea's latest anti-Lee Myung-bak cartoons.  The cartoons, which were released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in the last week of April 2012, depict the South Korean President as a rat being butchered in a variety of gruesome ways.  The cartoons include slogans calling for the President's eradication.  The slogan on the above cartoon for instance reads, "Let's rip apart the rat Lee Myung-bak!"

The cartoonists at KCNA are not the first political opponents to label South Korean President Lee Myung-bak a rat.  "The image of a rat is often used to mock President Lee Myung-bak by liberals," according to The Korea Times reporter Bae Ji-sook in her November 3, 2010 article Arrest Warrant for Drawing Rat on G20 Promotion Poster.  As that article explains, a university professor and a second individual were even arrested for drawing the President as a rat on seven publically displayed posters promoting the 2010 G20 Seoul Summit.  To see a Korean language article from the newspaper The Hankyoreh (The Korean Race) with photographs of that cartoon, click on Paying Off the 3 Million Won (approximately $3,000) Fine with Proceeds From the Sale of T-Shirts Featuring the Cartoon.  

While the following cartoons recently displayed on the KCNA's photo page may not be the first to label the South Korean President as a rat, they may be the most vile.  Below each cartoon is a rough translation.  Though honestly, no translation is needed to get the gist of these fate-filled cartoons.

To read the Economist's take on these shocking cartoons, click on North Korean Propaganda: Of Rats, Barks and Bites.  To read another interesting perspective, click on Lee Myung-bak as Rat? by Jeffrey Lewis at armscontrolwonk.com

Below all the cartoons are two examples of how these cartoons are employed by the North Korean regime to indoctrinate its enslaved people.  The first is a KCNA photograph of children being taught to hate President Lee Myung-bak.  The second is a YouTube video from North Korea's Stimme Koreas (Voice of Korea) titled N. Korea Mass Rally Against S. Korea Regime - April 2012.  Look for one of the anti-Lee Myung-bak cartoons as a poster at the eleven second mark of the video.


"Let's destroy the Blue House (South Korea's executive mansion), so there's no place for the rat to breathe."

"Let's destroy Myung-bak's rat nest, the Blue House." 

"Let's destroy the Blue House, the rats' nest!" 

"Let's destroy Myung-bak and all the betraying rats!"

"Let's wipe out the rat Myung-bak!" 

"Let's crush the disgusting rat Myung-bak!"

"Let's cut off rat Myung-bak's head!"

The sign that the caricature of President Lee Myung-bak is holding, reads:

Name: rat Myung-bak
Species: rat / rodent
Offense: Treason

"Let's wipe out the cold-blooded rat Myung-bak!"

"Let's strangle the rat Myung-bak!"

"Let's give death to the rat Myung-bak!"

The words written on the tongue of the crude caricature of the South Korean President are, "Give up nuclear weapons.  Change, openness, new direction." 

"Even a rat like me can't find a hole to escape into!!!"

"Let's chop in half the rat Lee Myung-bak!"

"Human garbage and failure!" 

"Let's kill Lee Myung-bak, the rat!"

Note:  The "2MB" is a mocking reference to the intelligence of Myung-bak (MB).  Two megabytes of information is supposedly all that the President can retain.  Like the nickname "the rat," this insult did not originate with the KCNA.     

"Let's decapitate the swarm of rats!" 

"He cannot avoid fate's punishment!" 

"Let's exterminate the betraying swarm of rats!" 

"Look at the rat Lee Myung-bak.  Look at how he will end up!"