February 06, 2023

Jesters in the king’s service: Standup comedy in North Korea

Popular propaganda performers lampoon social vices, but their satirical barbs never stray toward dissent

Socialist dictators have never particularly been fans of jesters, though this is not to say they have totally disapproved of entertainment and a hearty laugh.

Joseph Stalin, for instance, was a big fan of American musical comedies, and Soviet critics glorified Charlie Chaplin’s film “The Great Dictator” for its “militant satire” of fascism.