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View more articles by Hamish Macdonald
Hamish Macdonald is an NK News contributor and has previously worked at The Korea Herald and for the Australia Centre for Independent Journalism in Sydney.
Aggressive rhetoric in North Korea’s primary news agency articles in the first six months of 2018 was at its lowest point since 2011, data from the KCNA Watch Threat Index suggested this week.
The KCNA Watch website scans English language articles from the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) daily and totals the number of aggressive words within the reporting, with the figure then divided by the number of articles published that day to provide a value.
The list of aggressive words includes terms regularly used by North Korean journalists or editorial writers during times of heightened tensions.
This week’s data reveals their presence in articles has dropped drastically compared to the same period last year – when tensions were significantly higher.
According to the data, the first six months of 2018 registered a threat index measure of .266 – almost half of the .411 score registered for the same period in 2017.
Despite the high reading in 2017, it represents only the second highest measure for aggressive content published on KCNA in the first six months of any year since 1998, with 2013 registering a score of .445 during a period of extreme tensions.
The data points towards an emerging trend in DPRK propaganda since the beginning of 2018, a year which has seen markedly improved relations between North Korea, the U.S., and South Korea.
In May, NK Pro images and investigations show street-level anti-U.S. propaganda decreasing significantly, while further images from Pyongyang showing an increase in economy-related propaganda in its place.
In June the DPRK also released new posters promoting the inter-Korean summit and the April 27 Panmunjom Declaration.
While the 2018 score for the first six months of the year has dropped significantly from 2017 – a year of increased WMD testing and expanding sanctions – it is still not the lowest in the KCNA Watch dataset for the same time period.
The first six months of 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2011 all scored lower measures of aggression on the threat index. While North Korea tested missiles and conducted its first nuclear test in 2006, these events occurred in the second half of the year.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: Hamish Macdonald NK Pro