Kim Jong Il is dead – bizarre mourning video + testimonial on successor from his former sushi chef

The Korean Central News Agency announced Kim Jong Il’s death on its web site today. The news was accompanied by this strange three-minute montage showing lots of people mourning, and one solo interview with a woman who works at the capital’s electric wire factory at the very end.

The dear leader will most likely be succeeded by his son Kim Jong-Un. We don’t know too much about him, except that he’s about 28 or 29 years old and he appeared to be KJI’s favorite son.

A snippet from the NY Times quotes the Kims’ Japanese sushi chef as follows:

“When Prince Jong-un shook hands with me, he fixed me with a vicious look,” Kim Jong-il’s former Japanese sushi chef wrote in a 2003 memoir describing his first encounter with the boy, then 7, dressed in a military uniform and known as a “prince” among his father’s aides. “I still cannot forget the look in his eyes. It seemed to say, ‘This is a despicable Japanese.’ “

Betabrand’s new “Saito Jacket” (and a silly Christmas promo video)

Tomo — The Tofu Project‘s creative director — is also an occasional clothing designer. He just designed this shirt jacket for SF-based indie clothing label Betabrand called the “Saito Shirt Jacket” and made this silly Christmas-themed promo video for it. I don’t know if I want Saito Claus to show up in my chimney but the shirt is cool!

You can buy it here.

Christmas tree made of Santa Clauses

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If you’ve ever been in Tokyo in December, you know that you can’t escape Christmas decorations anywhere. When I exit my apartment door, the elevator hall in my parents’ building plays holiday tunes. Big companies sponsor extravagant light displays, mom and pop shops sell reindeer costumes for little dogs, and there are a gazillion different kinds of Christmas trees on every street corner. This one, made of tiny Santa Claus dolls, is one of my favorites. If you want to see it in real life, it’s in Tokyo Midtown.

Men in blue light and suits at Cloudforce Japan

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Yesterday, I spoke on a panel at Cloudforce Japan 2011–an annual event hosted by Salesforce.com. Before my panel, there was a keynote speech by CEO Marc Benioff. The entire room, which fit about 5000 people, was illuminated blue and almost everyone was wearing a suit. During our panel, Mr. Toyoda, the CEO of Toyota, made a cameo appearance. We were all on World Business Satellite, TV Tokyo’s daily business news show, last night. Full segment should be online next week.

Hafu, a doc about being mixed-Japanese in Japan

Three days left to contribute to the post-production costs of an upcoming documentary called Hafu, about the experience of being half Japanese in Japan. According to the filmmakers — one of whom went to my my middle school — one in 30 Japanese today are born to one non-Japanese parent. Yes, the world is getting more diverse! And yet there’s a lot of inherent discrimination against mixed-race people. An interesting topic close to my heart — I also have one non-Japanese parent, and most of my friends do too. These ladies have more than met their fundraising goals, but why not join in on the fun? Donate to their IndieGoGo campaign here.

Japan has ended

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Friend of a friend posted this photo on Facebook. I think it’s supposed to say “本日は終了しました” (we are closed for the day) but instead they wrote ”日本は終了しました” (Japan has ended). How silly of the person who punches in train signs!