The perfectly doubtful news story.
North Korea Has Found a Secret Unicorn Lair, Apparently
“Archaeologists of the History Institute of the DPRK Academy of Social Sciences have recently reconfirmed a lair of the unicorn rode by King Tongmyong, founder of the Koguryo Kingdom,” reports the — wait. Stop. UNICORNS? That’s an actual snippet from a report from the Korean Central News Agency, the state news agency of North Korea and fine, okay, we totally understand that this might be a retaliatory joke in response to China getting fooled by The Onion naming Kim Jong-un the Sexiest Man Alive or something.
But experts don’t lie, do they?
It’s not like this is a National Enquirer/Bat Boy type of fleeting story. This one has significance It looks like North Korea is using the unicorn lair to prove a bigger point:
The discovery of the unicorn lair, associated with legend about King Tongmyong, proves that Pyongyang was a capital city of Ancient Korea as well as Koguryo Kingdom.
As the author notes, this is the country that has given us stories like the weird events surrounding Kim’s death.
It sounds like pure propaganda or a not even funny joke. So, I’m not going to think much more about it. Thanks to the bunch of people who sent me links to this. Apparently no source could resist such a magically delicious weird story. Time.
Buy Unicorn meat.
UPDATE: (01-Dec-2012) Seems like it’s more of a case of a poorly translated press release than finding the ruins of mythological creature’s lair. From i09:
The English release poorly translated the name of a historical location, Kiringul, as “Unicorn Lair,” a very evocative name for Westerners. But in Korean history, the name Kiringul has a rather different significance. Kiringul is one of the sites associated with King Tongmyŏng, the founder of Koguryŏ, an ancient Korean kingdom. The thrust of the North Korean government’s announcement is that it claims to have discovered Kiringul, and thus to have proven that Pyongyang is the modern site of the ancient capital of Koguryŏ.
Or propaganda: From LiveScience:
In fact, the report is a propaganda piece likely geared at shoring up the rule of Kim Jong Eun, North Korea‘s young and relatively new leader, said Sung-Yoon Lee, a professor of Korean studies at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. Most likely, North Koreans don’t take the report literally, Lee told LiveScience.
“It’s more symbolic,” Lee said, adding, “My take is North Koreans don’t believe all of that, but they bring certain symbolic value to celebrating your own identify, maybe even notions of cultural exceptionalism and superiority. It boosts moral.”