Future of Media in North Korea

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Distraction & Media
Final Paper
12/22/10

The Future of media in North Korea

The North Korea’s brutal regime began on June 25th 1950, when the North Korean People’s Army (KPA) launched a surprising military attack and crossed the 38th parallel border. The Korean War often referred to as the “forgotten war,” caused the United States to suffer 142,000 casualties including 33,000 deaths. In total, the entire war killed around three million people. On July 27, 1953, the war was finally cease-fired and both South and North Koreas are under armistice ever since. Supported by the United States, the southern part of the peninsula went through numerous reformations to adopt democracy. On the other hand, since North Korea was initially aided by the Soviet Union and later by Mao Zedong’s Chinese People's Volunteer Army (CPV), it also became a Communist country and it is now the two remaining major Communist countries in the world along with Cuba. Consequently, in order to maintain stability in North Korea, censorship and propaganda are integral devices used every day to manipulate their own citizens, allowing the Kim family’s totalitarian regime to stay in power for generations. Unlike the party’s expectations, however, the current citizens of North Korea are aware of the extensive censorship in their own country. But what is even more troubling then its repressive environment is that the rigors of daily life and routine make North Koreans disinterested from actively acquiring the true information. As a result, the freedom of media in North Korea in the foreseeable future seems impossible with such lack of fervor and interest in the search for the ‘truth’ by the public mass.

When North Korea’s first Prime Minister and President, Kim Il-sung, first introduced the idea of combining Marxism and Confucianism, known as the Juche ideology, the citizens of North Korea were eager to follow in the footsteps of their “Eternal President.” During his leadership that began in the 1950s, he was responsible for laying the foundation of the current North Korea’s fabricated information environment by establishing the ‘cult of personality’ which is the use of mass media and propaganda to explicitly depict an individual as a “heroic public image.” Subsequently, although Kim Il-sung died in July 1994, the North Koreans still pay great respect to their deceased leader as his birthday is one of the most celebrated holidays in the country. Furthermore, mainly during the 1950s and the 1960s, North Korean citizens actually believed in the socialistic paradise that the country’s leader promised as the economy that they lived in was at the same level with China and South Korea in the past. (which was more than fifty years ago) As remote as he was, Kim Il-sung’s decision to portray himself as the “man of the people” directly earned him great respect and even the defectors in South Korea today do not necessarily hate Kim Il-sung, but they do openly express negative opinions about his son, Kim Jong-il and blame him for the disastrous economic crisis that has been continuing since the 1990s.

North Koreans today live in two different information environments. The Kim regime has designed the “public environment of party speeches, propaganda banners, and communist inspired culture for its own purposes.” In fact, North Korea has dedicated an entire department within the regime that regulates all information flow in the country. MPS, also known as the Ministry of People’s Security, is the responsible branch of the North Korean government that “concentrates on checking people’s ideological consciousness.” Moreover, every single communication methods are regulated and the type of media in this communist state is extremely nationalistic. Currently, North Korea has four major newspapers, one AM radio station, and three television stations that are all under the control of the Korean Workers’ Party (KWP). All information are carefully reviewed by the...
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