How North Korea’s Media Is Covering the Summit | NYT News

How North Korea’s Media Is Covering the Summit | NYT News

If you switched on the
television in the U.S. this week, you’ve seen a lot of this: “… the world watching that high-stakes summit” “… we’re continuing our
breaking coverage ahead of President Trump and Kim
Jong-un’s high-stakes summit …” “… an unprecedented
nuclear summit with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un …” But meanwhile, viewers
in North Korea saw a lot of this. “The Sunday broadcast
was much the same as every Sunday. So, documentaries about the
life of one of the Kims, revolutionary movies —
one of the programs this Sunday was about
evils of tobacco. And there were
children’s shows as well.” “Normally North Koreans don’t
see anything in real time about any foreign excursion
by the supreme leader. There’s normally nothing
until after he has come back to the country.” In a country
built on controlling the flow of information, the state-run media
apparatus holds all the power. “By not reporting on
things beforehand, the North Korean government
a) doesn’t build expectations and b) gets to decide
that whatever happens, it was a success.” But on Monday morning,
North Korean state media did something unheard of. “We saw an unprecedented
amount of North Korean media activity about Kim Jong-un’s
visits in Singapore. All of it was
reported in real time. And in fact, the anchor,
a woman named Ri Chun-hee, a very famous anchor in North
Korea, used the name Donald Trump — and used the
the honorific form in Korean to describe President Trump. So this is unprecedented.” This giant departure
from tradition is part of a bigger
seismic shift. Since Kim’s conciliatory
New Year’s speech, North Korea’s
propaganda machine has toned down its
anti-American messaging. Broadcasts like
this one, have become less frequent. And so have North Korean
propaganda leaflets like these dropped
over South Korea. They had been depicting
Donald Trump and U.S. allies in a hostile light. But early this
year, the leaflets suddenly started taking a
much less aggressive tone. “A lot of messages about
reconciliation, unification, peace, et cetera, and there
was even a Olympic-themed one which showed the
Olympic mascots, and they genuinely look like
they could have been from South Korea.” And in April,
when both Koreas agreed to cease all propaganda initiatives, the fliers stopped altogether. But time will tell
whether a friendlier tone in
North Korea’s propaganda will translate into a
shift in Kim’s policies. “North Korea likes
very big gestures and having a meeting with
the president of the United States — that means a lot. And that can provide
a certain momentum internally in North Korea to
get some tangible steps going in terms of denuclearization.”


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