North Korea’s propaganda outlets are changing their style

Mar 21, 2019

NORTH KOREANS did not hear about Kim Jong Un’s first known visit to China, only a year ago, until their dictator was safely back home. Even then, Rodong Sinmun, a government mouthpiece, tersely informed readers that the “supreme leader” had “unofficially” called on his Chinese counterpart. Yet last month, when Mr Kim travelled to Vietnam for his second meeting with Donald Trump, America’s president, the coverage was breathless. State television broadcast daily updates about Mr Kim’s journey. Rodong splashed on the red-carpet welcome Mr Kim received, interspersed with stories about how much he was missed at home. It was the closest the North’s slow-moving propaganda outlets come to rolling coverage.

Just as remarkable is how the North’s media have begun talking about America. Histrionic tirades about “evil imperialists” used to be their bread and butter. Just over a year ago Rodong Sinmun called Mr Trump a “crazy old bastard”. Over the past few months such abuse has all but disappeared. Apart from a rebuke of “gangster-like” Mike Pompeo, America’s secretary of state, the portrayal of America has softened beyond recognition. Even after Mr Trump walked out of the summit in Vietnam, the North’s media were emollient.

The propaganda machine’s new tone is...

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