Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A lack of perspective

In this post I compared the images below, showing how an image of the American merchant ship General Sherman (destroyed on the Taedonggang in 1866) had been reproduced on a beer cap for the North Korean beer Taedonggang:

That post was linked to today in Andrew Leonard's column at Salon called How the World Works. Neat. But... in the comments to that post (and in those to my original post) a question is raised as to whether or not the image is actually of a bridge, and not the General Sherman. A link to these photos of Pyongyang shows the Cheongryu Bridge, which I'd seen on Google Earth before I'd written the post, but dismissed because, well, who's ever heard of a suspension bridge with two towers of very different heights? Those photos of Pyongyang (many more are here) were taken in 2004, two years after Taedonggang beer began production, and the caption next to the photo of the bridge reads: "It is pictured on bottle caps of a beer brand". Digging further, I found the stamps below of the bridge, which show it from a more stylized perspective. I think the most important word there may be "perspective", as the images below make it seem likely that the image on the cap is the bridge foreshortened. Compare the image at upper right and the bottle cap:

It seems pretty certain it is the bridge (which is, I believe, the newest one in Pyongyang), though the perspective is wrong and the blobs under the bridge look nothing like piers. Was the artist who worked on the cap one of the people who worked with Guy Delisle?

Perhaps I should have known - North Korean propaganda isn't typically very subtle, is it?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Bridge or ship? Either way, I learned more about Korean history from you and Andrew Leonard in five minutes than I'd learn in a lifetime of M.A.S.H. reruns.

Now - what I'd really like to see on a beer bottle cap is the Ryugyong Hotel.