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What is it with oppressive regimes and icons of English popular culture?

First WikiLeaks revealed the Burmese military junta's plan to purchase soccer club Manchester United. Now the non-whistleblower website has released classified U.S. embassy cables detailing the Eric Clapton fandom of Kim Jong-chul, middle son of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il. So great is Kim Jong-chul's passion for Clapton that the U.S. pondered booking a Pyongyang show for the bearded rocker in an attempt to thaw relations with the dictatorship. Per the cable, dated May 23, 2007:


9. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX passed on the suggestion from his North Korean interlocutors that the USG arrange for Eric Clapton to perform a concert in Pyongyang. As Kim Jong-il's second son, Kim Jong-chol, is reported to be a great fan, the performance could be an opportunity to build good will. VERSHBOW

As The Guardian's Amelia Hill notes, the suggestion wasn't without merit: Clapton reportedly agreed to play a concert in Pyongyang back in 2008 as a way of promoting "cultural understanding between countries." And while the show never materialized, North Korea's recent creation of a YouTube account guarantees Kim Jong-chul unfettered access to memorable Clapton moments like this one.


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