March 04, 2021

Three unhelpful but common exaggerations about North Korea

‘Strange,’ ‘unpredictable’ country actually has a transparent logic to its actions

Nearly two decades have passed since the famine and economic crisis prompted North Korea to allow a number of foreign actors into the country, yet despite of the increased flow of information the DPRK is, by and large, still placed within the “bad, mad or sad,” paradigm described by British academic Hazel Smith.

Why would journalists and pundits write the same things about North Korea time and again? Some argue that it’s because the country offers little access and makes it hard to confirm or deny speculation. The most probable reason, though, is that the labels applied to North Korea make for catchy headlines and are an easy sell.