Kim Jong-il sacks Central Broadcasting Committee chairman
November 8th, 2009 - 12:25 UTC
by Andy Sennitt.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has fired Cha Sung-su, chairman of the Central Broadcasting Committee, for airing television commercials that promote its beer and other local products. Kim recently made the decision shortly after watching the advertisements on state television, according to sources in Pyongayg. Mr Kim was quoted as saying that the commercials “are as degrading as the ones that China had in its early reform.”

Yonhap News reported that Mr Cha may have been unduly victimized in the case because the commercials were a product of Mr Kim’s earlier instruction to create “more interesting and diverse” television programmes.

The North’s Korean Central News Agency played Pyongyang’s first television commercial for “Taedong River Beer” from 2 July, drawing media attention from around the globe. The advertisement claimed that the beer was the “pride of Pyongyang,”‘ and certified under the ISO 9001 Quality Standard, an international quality management marker. The commercial showed young women in traditional Korean dress serving frothy mugs of the beer to men in Western suits. The state-run television station also played commercials for other products, including ginseng and quail, fuelling speculation that the Stalinist regime may have started to embrace capitalism.

Mr Cha, 69, is known to be one of Mr Kim’s closest aides. He has reportedly accompanied Mr Kim on public inspections more than six times since November last year, when the leader partially recovered from a stroke in August. He was the North’s top television man and served on its Central Broadcasting Committee for four decades.