N. Korea embraces YouTube as new tool for propaganda aimed at wider audience
SEOUL — North Korea is adopting a more approachable style to promoting itself, using YouTube videos to reach a broader international audience, posting videos featuring a stylish, English-speaking woman who takes viewers on tours of key spots in Pyongyang.
That’s a departure from North Korea’s traditional way of sending messages to the outside world: all-serious newscasters using a hyped and bellicose tone to read provocative statements about nuclear or missile tests.
North Korean propagandists had been experimenting with the global video-sharing platform, but they went no farther than uploading edited videos from state media, often featuring Ri Chun-hee, a famous North Korean anchor known for her assertive and dramatic style of delivering news.
North Korea is now embracing a friendlier style to appeal to younger viewers, as seen on recent videos uploaded to channels, like New DPRK and Echo DPRK.
New DPRK, a YouTube channel believed to be run by the North, has recently posted “vlogs,” or video logs, of a seven-year-old Ri Su-jin describing the daily lives of kids in Pyongyang.
In one of her videos, Su-jin gives a tour of her apartment building and around her house, showing goods, such as a piano, a fan and a large couch.
Another YouTube channel, called Echo DPRK, features a woman in her 20’s named Un-A speaking in fluent English.
Dressed in a modern-style blouse with her phone in one hand, she gives a tour around Pyongyang, with stops at a luxury department store named Taesong and Ryomyong Street in a calm voice.
Un-A claims to tackle fake news and check facts regarding the coronavirus in a recent video, following a report that North Koreans were panic buying in Pyongyang due to the coronavirus.
In the video, uploaded in April, she interviews shoppers at Taesong in rebuttal to reports that claimed prices had gone up in North Korea.
“I think the fake news is the last thing we need in such fierce battle with COVID-19,” she says in the video.
Launched in August 2017, the channel has more than 13,000 subscribers.
Experts say the change in their propaganda style is directed towards foreign audiences.
“It is an adjustment in their propaganda style in response to the emergence of a new online platform,” said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies.
“Their purpose is to promote their politics and love for the people to the outside audience in an effective way rather than sending a message to its own people,” he added. (Yonhap)
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.