North Korea Uses Newtown Shootings to Denounce America

In an ongoing propaganda effort, North Korea uses calamity in the U.S. to highlight the supposed low quality of life there
January 7th, 2013
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North Korea’s official propaganda organ, Rodong Sinmun, ran a report on January 5th that uses the Newtown shootings that recently occurred in Connecticut to criticise the American  way of life.

The report, entitled “Corrupt Society,” depicts the United States as a lawless society where “Americans are reluctant to appear in pubic, fearing when and where they would be shot.” In addition, the report implicitly makes note of the ongoing gun debate currently happening in the U.S, by arguing that Obama “locks the door after the horse is gone from the stable.”

The use of American tragedies to highlight America’s wickedness is not something new to North Korean propaganda. In an interview with NKnews, Jana Hajzlerova, a lecturer of Korean Studies at Charles University in Prague, explains that, “there is no real ‘domestic or foreign news’ [in North Korea] as we would interpret in the West, but rather information is divided into categories.”

Hajzlerova identifies that, “the category of ‘conflict’, occupied almost 52% of the current news, and by ‘conflict’ I mean every report related to ongoing wars or military actions that occur either between North Korea rest of the world, or between U.S. and other countries.”

While the Newtown tragedy is obviously not a military action between two countries, the tragedy can be inserted into this category of “conflict” as it certainly pitted two sides against one another in the United States.

Nonetheless, skepticism remains as to whether or not North Korea’s propaganda to the outside world is the same propaganda that North Korean officials provide to its own citizens. Hajzlerova recognizes that, “there are obvious differences between the Korean and the English version in format (length, titling etc.) as well as in the content (sources cited, structure of storytelling, different details stressed etc.) which leads us to the assumption that the regime has a different target audience in mind when publishing these.”

As long as tragedies inside the U.S. provide fodder to North Korea’s propaganda machine, Pyongyang will keep using these events to highlight America’s supposed degradation.

Picture by Mike Saechang

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About the Author

Benjamin R. Young

Benjamin R. Young is a Ph.D student in East Asian history at George Washington University. He focuses his research on modern Korea, Cold War international history and Marxism in the Third World. He has studied the Korean language intensively at universities in South Korea, the Yanbian region of China and in the United States.