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Joyful Executions rejected from the App Store for parodying North Korean propaganda

Given the chop

Summary News Review Screens Videos Articles Tips  
Product: Joyful Executions | Developer: 8-Bit Underpants | Genre: Action, Arcade
For: Android
Joyful Executions Android, thumbnail 1
Joyful Executions is a bold debut from 8-Bit Underpants that parodies North Korean propaganda used to influence children.

It's a turn-based survival game in which you play commissar Kim Bok Kyong in charge of a 4-man firing squad. You're up against the clock, managing limited ammo supplies and changing execution methods to deal with the varying enemy types. 

The idea is to keep the waves of traitors back by killing them to appease The Divine Leader. Should you let the screen fill with enemies then the game is lost.

Joyful Executions was released on Google Play on July 15th. It took a whole month for Apple to decide to reject the game for a release on the App Store.

Shot Down

As with Endgame: Syria, Joyful Executions was rejected due to not being compliant with guidelines paragraph 16.1, which states "Apps that present excessively objectionable or crude content will be rejected."

This rejection came as a surprise to no one. Fredrik Nordstrom, the sole developer behind 8-Bit Underpants and Joyful Executions, is not amused.

Joyful Executions

Fredrik tells us that the Apple review team did not give him any suggestions as to how to make the game compliant with their guidelines once they gave their verdict. Unlike other games rejected due to their politically-charged content, Joyful Executions will not be modified in pursuit of an approval from Apple for the App Store. 

"It is bewildering, though, how games like Five Minutes To Kill Yourself are apparently NOT objectionably crude for iTunes," Fredrik told us.

"But it's Apple's right to decide what they want and don't want for whatever reason they fancy. However, as a developer, I would appreciate a more consequent and traceable implementation of their guidelines."


Apple's rejection of games that include political debate or color real political bodies in any manner is nothing new.

The developers who are bold enough to make games that engage with political topics are, essentially, being censored by Apple.

Games are at a point that they have the potential to engage with a big audience on wider issues of importance. Yet, rejecting these games arguably holds the medium back from this capability.

Fredrik states that ridiculing the North Korean government is important as otherwise the legitimacy of their regime is only being cemented with respect.

"The DPRK leadership's tactics of bullying their way to concessions by use of aggressive threats must not be tolerated," Fredrik told us. "I believe it is imperative for us to not grant them the respect they demand by acknowledging them as equals."

"That's why any parody on North Korea's regime reminds us what they really are. And that's why I'm releasing this game."


Before now, Fredrik has also had to answer as to why he uses violence and murder as the central gameplay in Joyful Executions. Surely, this is not necessary for the parody to exist?

He answers this by explaining that he didn't just want to make a parody of "weird propaganda". Joyful Executions is also a satire of how disturbingly easy players are manipulated by morally questionable ultra violence in video games.

Joyful Executions has the player murdering people who cannot, and don't try to, defend themselves. Why would anyone want to play that?

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It's the underlying reward systems that keep the player engaged and causes them to turn a blind eye to the acts they're actually committing in the game.

When playing a game such as this, you don't really think about the murder of innocents that you're commanding as you're too focused on pursuing the next unlock that the game dangles in front of you.

While Fredrik won't be toning Joyful Executions down in order to meet the restrictive demands of an App Store release, a "Little Girl's Training Edition" will be released this August in an update. This replaces the human traitors with dummies filled with urine. 

Joyful Executions is available on Google Play for Android tablets completely free of charge. It won't be coming to the App Store any time soon.

Reviewer photo
Chris Priestman 5 August 2013
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