by Ryan Pickrell
Have people lost their minds?
Kim Yo Jong, the younger sister of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, made a historic visit to South Korea this weekend for the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. Her visit is unquestionably significant and worth reporting, however, given that she is the first direct member of the Kim family to visit South Korea since the Korean War, the media has been fawning over her for days now, and it is absolutely maddening.
Calling Kim North Korea’s “answer to American first daughter Ivanka Trump,” CNN wrote that Kim “is stealing the show at the Winter Olympics,” going so far as to say she “would be favored to win gold” if “diplomatic dance” were an Olympic event. The piece never once mentioned ballistic missiles or nuclear weapons, or the fact that Kim is blacklisted by the U.S. Department of the Treasury for serious human rights violations.
CNN did, however, comment on her smile and warmth.
— CNN (@CNN) February 10, 2018
The Washington Post followed suit, writing about the so-called “Ivanka Trump of North Korea” and her “sphinxlike smile and low-key beauty.” Numerous other outlets have made similar comparisons to the first daughter, despite the fact that the only real similarity is that the two women have served as smiling representatives for their respective governments on the world stage.
Ivanka Trump, daughter of and adviser to President Donald Trump, is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, fashion designer, model, and actress, as well as a dutiful wife and mother. Kim, on the other hand, is the sister and confidant of a brutal dictator who murdered his own uncle and brother. Kim has served as his propaganda chief, shaping his cult of personality at a time when her brother was purging hundreds of government officials and their families, either by sending them to prison camps or by killing them in horrific public executions to secure his grip on power.
In recent years, Kim has risen through the ranks to become a member of the senior leadership and one of Kim Jong Un’s most trusted advisers. She is rumored to have even taken control of North Korea when her brother was ill, which means that at one point in time, she had her hand on the wheel of one of the world’s most oppressive regimes.
Not a lot is known about Kim Yo Jong, but it is clear that she is a leading figure in a regime accused of committing most of the recognized crimes against humanity. She is not a bystander or mere spectator; rather, Kim is an active participant.
Reuters declared Kim the winner of a “diplomatic gold” medal, announcing her the victor in the propaganda war at the Olympics.
Part of the reason for this victory, diverging interests between Washington and Seoul aside, was the media coverage, which painted the vice president as a lonely loser in his quest to remind the world that North Korea is not a normal state, but a hostile nuclear power run by a murderous regime. The media largely dismissed his counter-propaganda initiative while writing dozens of articles about the diplomatic brilliance and charming smile of the North Korean despot’s little sister.
The Western media also focused a lot of attention on North Korea’s cheerleaders, the so-called “army of beauties” deployed to present a positive image of North Korea. These women, like Kim Yo Jong, are another element of North Korea’s charm offensive. Like Kim, the cheerleaders, propaganda tools for the regime, are worth covering, but quite a few leading media outlets gave these brainwashed regime loyalists significant press coverage while downplaying potentially more important stories.
— ABC News (@ABC) February 10, 2018
The Wall Street Journal said North Korea’s cheerleaders were “impossible … to ignore.”
Over the past few days, the media has been providing a megaphone for North Korean propaganda while ignoring the Trump administration’s efforts to counter the North Korean narrative. The presence of Fred Warmbier, whose son was brutalized by the North Korean regime, was largely overlooked, and the same was true for Pence’s meeting with North Korean defectors, people who risked everything to escape to freedom.
“Let’s not whitewash North Korea’s record,” Pence’s Press Secretary Alyssa Farah said Saturday in response to CNN’s reporting.
Rather than aid the administration in reminding the world that North Korea is a violent and repressive country, the media unnecessarily bolstered the message of a regime that has been threatening to destroy the U.S. for decades.
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