How effective is propaganda in NK?

10 05 2008

Despite the 60 years of efforts to “revolutionize” North Koreans, they are still as humane as we are and most of them do not pay much attention to the official news or propaganda. They simply accept it and don’t question its validity.

A source from Ryanggang Province told Daily NK in a phone interview on May 1st, “At the Union of Democratic Women (UDW) conference, commemorating the founding of the Chosun People’s Army on April 25th, a speaker humiliated herself when she blamed South Korean President Lee Myung Bak [for the crisis].”

The source described an awkward atmosphere at the conference: When a chairperson of the People’s Unit of Hyehwa-dong in Hyesan asked outright, “We can understand that fact that Americans and Lee’s puppet factions are not aiding us with rice, but, why won’t China help us, as our closest ally?” The speaker’s face turned pale at the question and a sudden silence and tension filled the hall.

“At that moment, the lady next to the chairperson started chuckling, putting her head down, people began to chuckle here and there, and eventually, the entire hall was engulfed in laughter,” the source told DailyNK. The speaker reportedly responded through his own laughter, “’You know the lecture material always reads like this. You can well understand the situation and know what I am saying, right?’” The source said that “his comment sent people rolling in the aisles,” and pointed out, “The situation showed how absurd the propaganda released by the authorities is”. Read the full article here…

Do we trust every commercial which TV, radio and newspapers precipitate on us? When you hear another advertisement or see a billboard you simply turn away and pretend it does not exist (unless something is really wrong or funny about it). Similarly, people in the USSR, PRC, Cuba and other communist states did not care much about propaganda which was simply a boring nuisance, which people accepted only because “somebody wants us to know it”.

From my own experience I can tell you that Russians, like North Koreans, were exposed to the most pervasive propaganda and required to study Marxism-Leninism day and night. But very few really cared or understood it properly. People simply tried to memorize a political text and then used quotes from it only when they were supposed to demonstrate loyalty or endorse the official line.

People’s brains have certain capacity to absorb and process propaganda (political or commercial). When this capacity reaches the limit the brain stops relating to this type of information until the circumstances change. For instance, you have to compel a member of your community to fulfill a difficult task, or you argue with a foreigner about the “advantages” of one system over another. But in most cases the learned dogmas had nothing to do with the realities of everyday life.

That’s why Saturdays in North Korea are designated “study days” when people master their ability to find answers to difficult questions. Self-criticism sessions (where people have to confess their real or potential deviations) are also widespread. All this is designed to numb and hypnotize the population in order to keep it docile while the grand social experiment — the revolution — is being conducted. The DPRK is still a revolutionary state but nobody seems to be able to answer the two questions: when it started and when it will be completed.


…In Russia, beneath the surface of repressive political control, if you looked hard enough, and spoke the language, you could sometimes find those lonely dissidents living in “internal migration” rejecting the pressure to conform. In North Korea, conformity is taken to a degree I never imagined possible… See “North Korea: A prism to Soviet era” by By Jill Dougherty, CNN (19 June 2008)




One response

19 05 2008

While it’s true people criticise the news they read, regardless of the system they live under, the difference is that people have varying abilities to access differing opinions. In China, for example, while information control is tight, people can always access news via the internet, or from friends overseas. My understanding of NK, however, is that such avenues are largely closed apart from perhaps those living in border regions near china or some other small lines of underground communication. People then can only be aware of the most obvious falsehoods like in the example above…

Furthermore, as has been seen following the controversy following the Olympic Toch, it seems as though most people *do* believe propaganda/official party line even in a relatively open country like China….

What do you think?


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