Last Updated, 3:52 p.m. When aliens strike, the climate goes berserk, the Russians invade, an asteroid threatens the Earth, New York City is often the first place to be destroyed. Hollywood has long used the city’s skyline to demonstrate what destruction looks like in action movies and video games. It seems as if North Korea, in seeking to show how an assault on America would play out, also has Manhattan squarely in its cross hairs.
A new propaganda video, posted Sunday on a Web site and a YouTube channelthat serve as outlets for North Korean state media, shows a computer-animated representation of Lower Manhattan in flames as bombs rain down.
As a blogger for Kotaku reports, the attack on Manhattan is lifted straight from the video game “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3,” and unfolds as a sweeping instrumental version of “We Are the World” plays in the background.
The copy of the video on YouTube was removed on Tuesday afternoon, after a copyright complaint from Activision, the video-game maker.
The cartoonish propaganda clip is one of a slew of recent videos that have been released by North Korea to promote the country’s missile program. Although the video might make some observers laugh, the tension over North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and missile program is deadly serious.
The United Nations Security Council voted on Jan. 22 to tighten sanctions against North Korea as punishment for a Dec. 12 rocket launch. In response, the North vowed to expand its nuclear program “both quantitatively and qualitatively” and conduct a third nuclear test at a “higher level.”
As our colleagues David Sanger and William Broad reported after December’s successful missile launch by North Korea, there is no evidence that the country currently has technology that can threaten the continental United States – much less New York.
Administration officials said that while the launching was successful — and advanced the North’s missile program — it was hardly a threat to the United States, despite a warning by Robert M. Gates in 2011, when he was secretary of defense, that the North would have a missile capable of reaching the United States by 2016.
The video begins with an image of a man in blue pajamas sleeping. He recounts a dream in words that appear on the screen. “I had a dream last night, a dream of soaring into space on board our Unha-9 rocket,” the man says.
Unha, Korean for galaxy, is the name of the North Korean rocket series. The latest one, launched in December, was the Unha-3. So the dreamer is imagining a future, more advanced version of the rocket. After first showing footage of a real rocket launch, the video shifts to animation.
“Our Kwangmyongsong-21 spacecraft got separated from the rocket and traveled through space,” he says.
Once again, the dream appears to show the advances North Korea hopes to make in the years to come. In December, the satellite launched by the North was rocket number 3. By the time the series reaches 21 in the man’s dream, the rocket looks like the American space shuttle. The animation at that point shows the spacecraft circling the globe in search of its target, the music from “We are the World” building as it moves closer to the United States.
“I see stars and the green Earth. I also see a unified Korea.” These words appear on screen as the video moves from animation back to real footage of people waving flags, in particular, a “Korea-is-one” flag. The video shows a unified, not divided, Korean Peninsula in blue, a symbol of Korean reunification.
Then the video shows an overhead image of New York draped in the American flag. “Meanwhile, I see black smoke rising somewhere in America,” the dreaming man says. “It appears that the headquarters of evil, which has had a habit of using force and unilateralism and committing wars of aggression, is going up in flames it itself has ignited.”
At this point in the video, the computer-animated scene copied from “Call of Duty” show Lower Manhattan in flames.
“Just imagine riding in a Korean spaceship. One day, my dream will come true,” the narrator says. “No matter how hard the imperialists try to isolate and stifle us, they will not stop our people’s path toward our final victory of achieving a unified, strong and prosperous Korea.”
Robert Mackey contributed reporting.