We've been busy gossiping about Kim Jong-Un's new lady friend, who may or may not still have a husband and child, but we've also quietly wondering how Disney would respond to Kim using, like, all of their characters for a stage show. The answer: they're thrilled.
We told you about how Kim threw a huge Disney stage show for himself in North Korea over the weekend. It had Bambi, Dumbo, Beauty and the Beast. Even Mickey Mouse was there. Kim said to someone, "I want my favorite cartoons to dance for my new lady friend! Play us the hits, Johnny!" And then Johnny did because no one in North Korea cares about copyright laws.
"This was not licensed or authorized by The Walt Disney Company," was all a Disney rep could muster for the AP at the time. As The New York Times' Brooks Barnes points out, Disney usually has an itchy trigger finger when it comes to people stealing their stuff. They were seriously mad when people were dressing up in Beijing as Mickey Mouse and demanding money for pictures, and they even warned a British stonemason not to use Winnie the Pooh on a child's gravestone (but relented once he went to the press and made them look like jerks). They are ruthless, usually. In 2011, they miraculously let a guy in Utah build a reproduction of the house from Up, but even he was surprised they let him do it. "Real tough customers, those folks," is how he described their reputation.
But Disney isn't expected to take any legal action against Kim or the country at large. Brooks got the inside scoop from a Disney rep:
The company is unlikely to take action, according to a Disney official who spoke anonymously because the subject is sensitive inside the company. Disney doesn’t want to wade into international politics, and its hands are also tied by North Korea’s isolation. One executive inside Disney even cast the incident in a positive light — proof that its characters had become so globalized that even the leader of a country that views the United States as a mortal enemy would adopt them as his own.
Disney's reasons for not pursuing legal action: North Korea is scary, far away, and it's great that everyone loves us. It troubles us a little that Disney would be happy their characters are so popular and "globalized" that the leader of a mysterious foreign power, one that regularly performs scary nuclear tests, can still love them. Would they be excited if Bashar al-Assad threw a Disney show for himself?
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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