Bad journalism? You Decide (part six)

The New York Times reported on a recent children rally in North Korea attended by the new leader of the Secret State, Kim Jong-un.

The newspaper quoted political scientist Ahn Chan-il from the World Institute of North Korea Studies in Seoul, South Korea, as saying that mingling with kids is Kim Jong-un’s way of “winning back the respect of the people.” Is this a bad journalism?

As someone who follows closely the situation in North Korea, and after having searched the web for the quote, including in French and in Spanish (réconquerir and recuperar means winning back in French and in Spanish respectively), this is not a bad journalism. Instead, this is bad interpretation by Ahn Chan-il, especially on two aspects that I will discuss in this article.

First of all, the third dictator in this Stalinist regime hasn’t lost anyone’s respect in order to “win it back.” If there is anyone who lost their respect toward him, they, as well as their entire family and other relatives, are then sentenced to life at one of the many concentration camps in Nort Korea. In these concentration camps it is well known that the living conditions are abhorrent and people constantly stay tortured and hungry. Therefore, it is not such lofty rallies – such as the Sixty-Sixth Anniversary of the Korean Children’s Union – that win back his people’s respect. It is the fear that these people have from him and the Kim’s dynasty’s vile regime.

Second of all, in the North Korean society – reputable for its reverence toward elderly people, especially leaders, when it comes to leadership – “winning back” respect doesn’t come through “mingling with kids,” especially and particularly when the new leader is too young and therefore has his age as a potential liability within his own people. In fact, the mainstream media was reporting on the concerns about his age all both months before and after he succeeded his father, Kim Jong-il.

This is why the propaganda machine in North Korea is focused on not just featuring him on KCNA TV, which also made an hour-long video of him. The propaganda machine is also focused on allegedly forcing people finish all of their [scripted] statements by stating how devoted they will be to the Superior Leader – Kim Jong-un. Its hidden goal is both to deny these reported concerns and to brainwash their population as much as they can into pledging allegiance to him, which does not mean “winning back” respect in any way.

For those of you interested in watching the entire parody and other parodies in North Korea, its government’s news agency – KCNA – has a channel on Youtube, and has posted that parody there. It appears that in a more and more globalizing world everyone, including communists and other anti-capitalists, would use capitalist means to spread their pathetic message.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Bad journalism? You Decide (part six)

  1. Gunnar

    I am not certain that you have clear understanding of how the country of North Korea is actually run. Without going into too much detail, I will make 2 comments on your points.

    – Any form of dissidence would be quashed. So they are just not publicly showing their disrespect to the dear leader. It isn’t easy as Torr connection and secretly publishing their opinions online to discreetly discuss their lack of respect.

    – Children are the key to maintenance of power in any dictatorship as they are easier to manipulate and easier to garner support in discovering the dissidents in their earshot.

    Missing these two points clearly show that your understanding on this subject matter requires quite a bit more understanding on the psychology and not all on political science perspectives.

    I ran across this posting while doing some research and I thought I would share this opinion as I once lacked the understanding of the psychology portion of the people of North Korea, but after talking to defectors, I have come to better understand their way of life as much more than what seems just cruel fate under a dictatorship.

  2. Have you read my article at all to make this comment?

    Your first point has no difference from what I said. You just repeat it with different words.

    As to your second point, this is true. Except that – you have to have the adults’ support first before you start manipulating their children. It is never the other way around, especially when the new dictator is not old (notice how they are even trying to make him look older than he actually is – his hairstyle, his clothes, and so on). Manipulating children comes second. Once you get into that phase, you are immortal there (in the country) not because children’s opinion matters but because it looks nice as a facade – both in that country and outside that country (particularly for those who know little to nothing about dictatorships or are easy to manipulate). I hope you haven’t come to the conclusion that Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin (who are what the Kim dynasty is) tried to get support from children first. You see pictures of them with children only after they “won” the love of their people.

    As to discovering dissidents, don’t think that they will rely on sharing their opinions with children. They will look for other adults to organize something. And the regime is aware of all that. Unfortunately when too many people know about a possible rebellion, it gets quashed because it takes just one person (!!!) to tell on them, not because the dissidents relied on a kid to keep his or her mouth shut. Several North Korean Army generals have tried to organize a rebellion but in vain exactly because of that. I see your point but it is quite naive and only scratches the surface, regardless of your implying that you know a lot.

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