North Korean media has, since last Friday’s impeachment of Park Geun-hye, been unable to hide its glee at the downfall of the DPRK’s longtime foe, praising it last week as the “victory of South Korean people.”
Of course, while South Korean media portrayed Park’s fall as a “victory of democracy” in South Korea, Pyongyang claimed that it was her long years of “anti-DPRK” and “pro-American” policies that led to her removal.
Initial reports on Park’s impeachment were released in North Korea at around 1738 KST, or 1708 Pyongyang time, Friday, by the state-owned KCTV.
While the North’s original announcement was short (around 50 words), dry and – apart from calling Park a “common criminal” – short on propaganda, the following day’s reports saw the message being honed in several government-linked outlets.
On Saturday, the Choson Sinbo, a Japan-based outlet which operates as the mouthpiece for the pro-Pyongyang Chongryon organization, released a piece containing interviews with citizens of Pyongyang.
“What was reported (on Friday by the KCTV) was short, but was hugely sensational among the Pyongyang residents,” it continued, adding that “everyone talked about the incident that took place in Seoul.”
Quoting “people of Pyongyang,” Choson Sinbo said that Park’s impeachment was “punishment for the crimes during four years of rule.”
“The first image that comes up on North Koreans’ minds about Park Geun-hye is her actions against the DPRK,” it said.
“People who heard the news from Pyongyang said it was a good riddance,” Choson Sinbo said.
An announcement from another Pyongyang mouthpiece, the Consultative Council for National Reconciliation, released by KCNA and aired on KCTV, continued the trend of framing Park’s impeachment as a consequence of “anti-DPRK” activities.
“Shutting down the last symbol of the inter-Korean reconciliation and cooperation, the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC) and… speaking of sanctions and pressures (on North Korea),” it said, listing reasons for Park’s downfall.
“The people of South Korea must fuel one’s heart with the flame of justice, and sharpen the passion and courage that collapsed the stronghold of pro-America and pro-Japanese conservatives to entomb the reactionaries of history completely.”
In the Consultative Council for National Reconciliation’s announcement, the North continued to emphasize the role of South Koreans (남조선인민) in Park’s impeachment.
“Not by the political foes or by the particular factions, Park Geun-hye was judged by the people, and was firmly executed in the people’s hands,” it continued.
“Those who have engaged in the war against the evils… were no fighters or revolutionaries. It was South Korean workers, farmers, students, professors, housewives, elders, office workers, merchants… the ordinary people.”
With the exception of the Consultative Council for National Reconciliation’s statement on Saturday, all other coverage lifted from South Korean or foreign media reports.
The word “democracy” was used 17 times in 4700 words, but was only ever used when quoting non-North Korean outlets, and the phrase “victory of democracy,” which appeared more than 1120 times in South Korean media, is not used in North Korean coverage.
There are also no mentions of South Korea’s constitution, a common trend in South Korean media which has, since Friday, cited the case as proof of the strength of the country’s legal checks and balances.
Park was ousted because of her failure to defend the South Korean constitution, the Constitutional Court said in its final judgment.
One expert explained that the North Korean government would have struggled to explain constitutionalism to its people – given Pyongyang’s less than conventional relationship with the rule of law.
“‘Democracy’ in the DPRK is about Democratic Centralism,” Cha Du-hyeogn, a former intelligence secretary to President Lee Myung-bak, told NK News. “Their concept of democracy is about one party and one ruler making the decisions and the whole society consistently working to achieve that goal.”
Pyongyang’s framing of her downfall as a result of her “anti-DPRK” policies showed that state media couldn’t risk explaining the more conventional understanding of democracy to its people, Cha said.
“It would not only be impossible for typical North Koreans to understand but would put pressure on Pyongyang.”
Featured Image: Blue House
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