2012: North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un commissioned a stage show featuring well-known characters from Disney films, a sign to some that the country may be heading in a more Western-friendly direction. The show featured background dancers and singers in short black dresses (another shift from the standard North Korean costumes for women performers) and full-sized Disney puppets and costumes, unlicensed by the company. The Telegraph reports:
Performers dressed as some of America's most memorable cartoon characters danced and pranced as footage from Snow White, Dumbo, Beauty and the Beast, and other popular Disney movies played on a massive backdrop, according to still photos shown on state TV. The inclusion of characters popular in the West particularly from the United States, North Korea's wartime enemy is a notable change in direction for performance arts in Pyongyang.
This appears to be the first time Disney characters have been included in a major performance, though Winnie the Pooh and Mickey Mouse have been popular among children for several years.
1959: The draw of Disney is nothing new to communist nations. On the first visit by a Soviet premier to the United States, officials were confronted by an irate Nikita Khrushchev upon the determination that the head of the USSR and his family would have to cancel their scheduled day at Disneyland. Introduced to Hollywood stars like Frank Sinatra and given a private tour of many Los Angeles-area film studios, Khrushchev had, according to reports, been especially excited about his excursion to the recently-opened theme park. The New York Times, which covered the landmark trip,
“And I say, I would very much like to go and see Disneyland,” Mr. Khrushchev shouted angrily. “But then, we cannot guarantee your security, they say. Then what must I do? Commit suicide?...Is there an epidemic of cholera there or something? Or have gangsters taken hold of the place that can destroy me? You have policemen so tough they can lift a bull by the horns, yet they say Disneyland cannot be security-guarded. This fact can evoke nothing but disappointment on my part.”
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