February 21, 2024

Where some of the worst rumors on North Korea come from

Why would someone tell nonsense to the media again and again? More important, why would we let him?

Editor's note: This column was erroneously published last Friday before Toshimitsu Shigemura was given an opportunity to respond and was withdrawn once the mistake was discovered. A response to the allegations is now included at the end. The original column also stated that Shigemura is currently on the faculty of Waseda University, and has been amended to reflect that he is retired. We regret the errors.

The Japanese media, frankly speaking, has a rather bad reputation among North Korean scholars: much of the stuff, unfortunately, gets published without sufficient cross-checking and thus many of the most sensationalist and exaggerated stories about the DPRK originate from Japan. It is sad, since the country has a number of talented scholars of North Korea – like the historian Nobuo Shimotomai – and good journalists writing about the DPRK like Yomi Goji, who conducted multiple interviews from Kim Jong Nam in 2012.