North Korea is not known for its social-media savvy. When the Democratic People’s Republic launched its official government Twitter account under the handle of @uriminzok (meaning our nation) in August 2010, it started making friends in a sluggish and erratic fashion.
When they weren’t antagonizing South Korea or sending out links to propaganda, Pyongyang’s social-media wizards followed barely a dozen tweeps, seemingly at random: a few Americans here, a Vietnamese account there, and a Venezuelan radical just for the hell of it.
After two and a half years, the North Korean Twitter account has nearly 11,000 followers, roughly the same number as that of the Croatian government (but about 10,000 more than the government of Somalia’s account). Meanwhile, @uriminzok has, for whatever reason, severely downsized the number of Twitter users it follows.
As of yesterday, these were the remaining three-none of whom is Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt, who is currently in North Korea on a high-profile visit:
If one of these seems like it’s not like the other, thats because it isnt. Meet Jimmy Dushku, the last and only American whom North Korea still follows on Twitter. In fact, he’s the only active tweep it follows, as @qwertyvn and @Pyongyang_DPRK haven’t tweeted in months.
Dushku, who goes by the nicknames Jimmer and Jammy (for his love of Jammie Dodgers biscuits), is a 25-year-old independently wealthy investor from Austin, Texas, who projects an online image of himself that is, shall we say, larger-than-life.
Having started a website development business at age 14, Dushku now has his money in construction projects in Europe, residential properties in Texas, and mining and agriculture in Brazil and Peru.
When he’s not globetrotting on Falcon 50s or other private jets, you can find him playing Rachmaninoff on his piano, riding his Ducati Monster, giving marketing tips to friends, and swinging by charity events.
In certain corners of the internet, Dushku has gained a degree of notoriety for being Coldplay’s biggest fan. “I’ve never been into partying or anything like that, so while my friends are at the bars, I’m usually enjoying the world class entertainment of Coldplay,” he writes in an email to Mother Jones. Dushku has attended, by his own count, nearly 60 Coldplay concerts across the country from Dallas to New Jersey, which he has methodically documented and photographed.
So why, exactly, did North Korea decide to follow Dushku in the first place? He has no personal or political connections to the Hermit Kingdom, much less any affection for its binge-drinking, roller-coaster riding, Kobe Bryant-watching, nuclear-armed supreme leader.
“People always ask me how it happened, and I honestly can’t remember,” he says. “It started sometime back in 2010. I was initially surprised, but I always try to make friends with people from all different locations and backgrounds.”
“Out of courtesy,” Dushku says, he followed North Korea’s account in return, and they began communicating. The first tweet below says “Have a nice day, my friend” in Korean.
“The most entertaining messages I’ve received have been from Australians. They always send such cheerful messages and it’s a nice change from the negative ones.”