“Enter Pyongyang”, by JT Singh

 

When it comes to North Korea, our minds never cease associate this isolationist, hermit-state with mostly negative terms. Dictatorship, totalitarian rule, no free Internet, famine, underfed people, state-controlled daily life, and all these things, what have you, will make you feel as though the only thing North Koreans could survive, day by day, were mere inhaling and exhaling. We often think of a Stygian vision, a panopticon-like perspective about this mysterious country we actually haven’t known the bulk out of it.

All these things do still exist, sadly, even in 21st century. Life seems gloomy, and only slightly better in the capital, Pyongyang (whose best hospitals even rely on electric generators to avoid blackouts and suffer from chronic lack of medical devices).

But JT Singh, a professional brand marketer, offers a reversed glimpse of what life seems to be in the capital. Okay, we should forgive ourselves for overlooking the other 90% of North Korea’s population who lives beyond the metropolis (and they certainly fare much worse than their Pyongyang counterparts with famine and all kinds of undernourishment), but thanks to his hard work, his immense creativity, and his deep passion in recording the heartbeats of this city, Pyongyang is actually, despite all its current hardships, more colorful than we now perceive.

If Kim Jong Un were wise enough (and could think rationally like Deng Xiaoping), he should have asked Singh, well-known for his city-branding expertise in numerous major cities across the globe, to promote North Korea, endowed with rich natural resources (but still abysmal human rights record, one we should slightly compromise), as an investment destination. Get real about it.

Study case: inside the minds of Mexican drug cartels

 

Any business-school student should carefully watch this mind-blowing video.

Whatever the mass media have shaped our minds regarding the ongoing drug war in Mexico, which has claimed in between 60,000 and 100,000 lives since the army deployment began on 2006, our perception regarding the drug cartels – the so-called ‘bad guys’ as our minds are molded to believe – is utterly limited.

Rodrigo Canales, an associate professor of organizational behavior at the Yale School of Management, wants to debunk our limited mindsets in perceiving these cartels. At least there are three ‘business strategies’ everyone is going to learn from this utterly deadly genius TED talk:

1. A drug cartel can instill a high sense of control by pursuing a brand of fear. (take for instance Los Zetas, a drug cartel composed of former paratroopers previously recruited, and later dismissed, by Gulf Cartel, another influential Mexican drug-trading organization )

2. Or, in a softer approach, a drug cartel, in the absence of government’s effectual policies, endorses social enterprise and civic engagement. (Knights’ Templar, the successor of previous La Familia Michoacana, is an epitome for this case. They often label themselves as ‘protectors of the oppressed’, as shown by how they kill people, particularly petty criminals, perceived as threats to the social stability of the societies they control)

3. Or, in a more sophisticated manner, a drug cartel functions as normally as a multinational corporation does. (Sinaloa Federation is a role model fit for this method. They have developed their own tunnels, operated their own submarines, and even engaged public-relations firms to give a positive trajectory of how local societies perceive of their organization)

At the same time, Canales also challenges us to readjust our mindsets regarding our perception, and how this can help the policymakers in pursuing a radically brand-new problem-solving approach to solve this age-old trouble, one that has taken over tens of thousands of lives in the Central America’s largest country.