(AFP) – Jul 10, 2012
LOS ANGELES — North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un's nuclear program already has the world's attention but the young dictator has now defied the owner of one of America's most famous exports -- Mickey Mouse.
Disney said Tuesday that it had not approved a colorful performance for Kim and the communist state's most powerful generals that used several trademarked characters from the California-based studio's stable.
"The Walt Disney company did not license or authorize the use of its characters," a spokeswoman said, after versions of Mickey, Minnie, Winnie the Pooh and other well-known faces graced a North Korean stage.
The show was unusual in its prominent use of cartoon characters from the United States, the authoritarian hermit nation's foe, and it also featured a host of young female musicians in short black dresses.
The State Department in Washington voiced concern.
North Korea "needs to meet its international obligations and... comply with property rights," said Patrick Ventrell, a State Department spokesman.
"We are very proud of American innovation, we are very proud of American products and we want them to have free and fair treatment and to get the appropriate benefits for their creation."
However, he noted, Washington does not have a bilateral relationship with Pyongyang.
On Monday, reports showed a smiling and applauding Kim lapping up the show alongside a mystery woman, whose recent appearance at public events has sparked speculation over whether she is the leader's sister or lover.
The stage show was also backed up by scenes from the Disney movies "Dumbo" and "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" on large television screens, the reports said, citing state media.
Kim took power after the death of his father Kim Jong-Il in December, but the outside world does not even know his exact age.
Some analysts believe the young dictator could take his country in a new direction but others point to his failed rocket launch in April as evidence that he is likely to continue the country's international isolation.
The North has been developing nuclear weapons for decades.
Pyongyang's official position has been that it needs atomic weapons for self-defense against a US nuclear threat, but it is willing in principle to scrap its arsenal under a negotiated international deal.
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