Say it ain't so! The Dude, Jeff Bridges' pot-head bowling anti-hero of film The Big Lebowski, has managed to get himself tied up with Kim Jong Il's North Korean regime.
According to a Bloomberg article, programmers from North Korea's General Federal of Science and Technology developed mobile phone games Big Lebowski Bowling and Men in Black: Alien Assault in 2007.
The games were both published by Ojom Gmbh, a unit of mobile game publisher Jamba, which was later purchased by News Corp. and renamed Fox Mobile. Both games came out after Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. took a controlling interest in the publisher, but before the company was taken over completely.
The seeming connection between the game and North Korea first came out today in the Bloomberg article which says these games "represent a growing software industry championed by Kim that is boosting the economy of one of the poorest countries in the world and raising the technological skills of workers."
Skills that could in theory be put to use bolstering the countries cyberwarfare capabilities. South Korea has said in the past that North Korea has been responsible for extensive cyber attacks in the past.
The Bloomberg article goes on to quote James Lewis, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based policy group, about the downside of buying North Korean-produced products. Lewis says that giving North Korea cash works against U.S. policy and warns about the possibility of strengthening Kim's cyber-espionage capabilities.
There's a lot of dot connecting going on in the article, but the final picture the article seems to draw for us doesn't seem too far beyond the scope of reason.
Their conclusion seems strengthened by Fox Mobile spokeswoman Juliane Walther in Berlin, who tells Bloomberg that the company has "xtensive partnerships with content producers in all areas, with operators, and with the biggest media companies worldwide, including various Asian companies." She then declines to be more specific about the company's partners and where they are based.
The other side of the coin, of course, is that more money for North Korea means less misfortune, perhaps, for its citizens and more modernization.
I wonder what other games are being secretly developed in North Korea?