A closer look at the programming reveals it wasn’t the only part of the newscast that was given a new look.
The newspaper review, which is a staple of the early evening 5pm bulletin, also has a new graphics package and a much lighter musical intro. More >
North Korean state media’s coverage of the arrest, trial and subsequent execution of Jang Song Thaek was “tantamount to mass intimidation,” Reporters Without Borders said on Thursday.
“Although only to be expected from one of the world’s worst dictatorships, such manipulation of news and information is disturbing,” the Paris-based group said in a statement.
“The extensive and indeed staged coverage of this execution coinciding with the hyped coverage of the second anniversary of Kim Jong-il’s death had the hallmarks of a intimidatory message to the entire Korean population and the international community.”
One of the things that made Jang’s arrest notable was the way it was done in public. State TV, radio and newspapers devoted a considerable amount of time to denouncing him for what were at the time accused crimes. Later in the week, the media carried news of his trial, his apparent admission of guilt and his execution.
That was followed by an information purge that has seen thousands of articles removed from the websites of the state-run Korean Central News Agency and party-run Rodong Sinmun newspaper.
“This propaganda has highlighted the harshness of a regime that has not hesitated to execute one of the party’s most senior officials, a four-star general and uncle of the currently leader. Such an atmosphere of terror will weigh heavily on the little freedom of information remaining in such a closely-watched society,” Reporters without Borders said.
North Korea ranks at position 178 on the group’s press freedom index – one place from the bottom. The only nation ranked below the DPRK was Eritrea.
High-level purges in North Korea have been typically quiet affairs in the past. Rumors would circulate that someone had been removed from office, state media would be analyzed for mentions of the person’s name and confirmation would usually only come months or years later when they either reemerged or someone else appeared in a position they used to fill.
So the announcement through state media that Jang Song Thaek had been executed is quite stunning in its openness.
The Korean Central News Agency carried the news early on Friday, December 13, while the Rodong Sinmun newspaper devoted most of the second page of the newspaper to a report about the military tribunal that Jang faced.
The newspaper also carried two photographs alongside the article. One showed the three judges in the “special military tribunal of the DPRK Ministry of State Security” and another showed Jang, apparently in handcuffs, being held by two soldiers. It looks like he is attempting to walk and, like the images of him being arrested by soldiers, he has his head down.
As of time of writing, we’re yet to see what state TV makes of the whole affair.
It’s possible Korean Central Television might show different photos of the court of of Jang. The TV station was the one that first broadcast photos of the former top official being arrested at a meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea.
The KCNA website has also not carried any photographs yet of Jang at the political bureau meeting or court.
Here are the Rodong pictures:
North Korea’s Minju Joson newspaper on Saturday criticized the recent launch of a new spy satellite by the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office, according to a report on the state-run Korea Central News Agency.
The classified satellite, called NROL-65, was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on August 28 into an orbit that is used by spy satellites.
Not much is known about the satellite, but it’s thought to be the latest addition to the Keyhole constellation of reconnaissance satellites. As such, it will likely strengthen the ability of the U.S. intelligence community to look into North Korea.
Thus, the Minju Joson isn’t pleased.
It is as clear as a pikestaff that the spy satellite would be used for the purpose of the aggressive and warlike foreign policy of the U.S. aiming to dominate the world.
The U.S. is attaching weighty significance to the speed and scientific accuracy in collecting information to carry out its aggressive foreign policy. It is paying special attention to rounding off the intelligence-gathering system by spy satellites.
Hence, the U.S. is keen to cover the space with a dense network of its spy satellites and hold supremacy in this aspect, too. — Minju Joson, September 14, 2013, via KCNA
It wasn’t so long ago that North Korea was trying to launch its first spy satellite, called Kwangmyongsong 3.
The first launch, on April 13, 2013, ended in failure but the second, on December 12, 2012, was successful. Unfortunately for Pyongyang, the satellite appears to have suffered a total failure and was delivered into orbit inoperable.
The newspaper editorial also singled out a recent test by Raytheon of its SM-6 missile interceptor. Two were fired from the USS Chancellorsville and successfully engaged two cruise missies target drones in the missile’s first over-the-horizon test scenario at sea.
It is by no means accidental that some time ago the U.S. launched two “SM-6″ interceptor missiles from its navy ship “Chancellorsville”.
It is the military strategic scenario of the U.S. to take an unchallenged edge in the field of strategic and offensive weapons by combining the intelligence-gathering system by spy satellites and the interceptor missile system. — Minju Joson, September 14, 2013, via KCNA
Here’s video of the NROL-65 launch and some file video of the USS Chancellorsville.
Regular readers of The Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of North Korea’s Workers’ Party, might be forgiven for thinking the newspaper has a correspondent in South Korea. The newspaper, now available in English via its website, offers a page of inter-Korean news complete with photographs of demonstrations happening in Seoul.
But where are they coming from? A little investigating reveals the pictures are mostly cropped versions of photos taken by South Korean news organizations. They aren’t cropped to change the meaning of the image — they’re cropped to remove the logo of the news agency that holds the copyright.
Is the Rodong Sinmun’s website stealing photographs from South Korean news organizations?
Yonhap says it doesn’t have a deal with KCNA or the Rodong Sinmun for them to access Yonhap material. While it’s possible the Rodong Sinmun licensed the image from a Yonhap distributor, the cropping of the image and the Rodong’s similar use of images from other sources makes it likely the newspaper is pulling them off the web.
Take a look at the most recent headline that was accompanied by an image, “With Resolution to Put End to Subsidized Broadcasting,” from February 11. The link points to a page that doesn’t contain a story but has this image:
Now take a look at the same picture, side-by-side with a photograph from South Korea’s Voice of People:
Another recent example was the February 3rd story, “S. Korean Students Demanding Dissolution of Ruling Party,” that links to a cropped Yonhap news photograph.
The crop is a little difficult to see so here’s another example, this time accompanying the story “The South Korean Students Protest Against Ruling Party’s Cyber Attack” on January 28th:
It’s not just Yonhap Photos being used. Here’s a photo carried in the January 16 article “S. Korean Policiemen Clamping Down on Farmers in Struggle against FTA” and an un-cropped version with the “News.is” logo:
Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the Workers’ Party of Korea and North Korea’s main national daily, has launched an English-language website.
The page appears to have come online in the last few days but has a small archive of stories stretching back to December 1. It’s the first foreign language to be offered by the newspaper and comes just under 11 months since the launch of a Korean site.
Those with an interest in North Korean affairs will welcome the site but a quick review of the content initially offered shows much of it consists of stories already available via the Korean Central News Agency. Many of the news articles are verbatim copies of KCNA stories.
Some of the content appears to be original and is attributed to the newspaper or sometimes to a specific author.
Notably, the Enlgish-language Rodong Sinmun website doesn’t print the name of Kim Jong Un, Kim Jong Il or Kim Il Sung in a bold or large font as is done on other North Korean websites. The three names are given the large font treatment on the Korean version of the site so it’s probably only a matter of time before that’s added to the English site.
The website represents the latest push by North Korea’s state media to present its news and propaganda to an international audience. In 2011, KCNA added Chinese and Japanese news articles to its selection, the Voice of Korea shortwave radio service began offering audio clips in eight languages and the quasi-official Uriminzokkiri site also added a Russian version.
(Thanks to Steve Herman for the tip!)
A day after North Korea was told of the death of Kim Jong Il, his official portrait dominates the front page of the Rodong Sinmun. The newspaper is the most powerful mouthpieces for the ruling Workers’ Party and as such the front page isn’t a surprise.
Page 2 carries the official announcement of his death that was published by on Monday by the Central Committee and the Central Military Commission of the Workers’ Party of Korea, the National Defence Commission, the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly and the Cabinet of the DPRK.
Page 3 has the names of the members of the national funeral committee. The list, which was published in full on Monday, is led by Kim Jong Un. In the past I’ve written about the use of a larger of bold font on North Korean websites whenever the names of Kim Il Sung or Kim Jong Il are written. That hasn’t yet started on the web for Kim Jong Un but his name does appear in a larger and more prominent font at the head of this page. (It’s the five Hangul characters immediately above the list of three-character names.)
Pages four, five and six cover other announcements from Monday and coverage of mourning. There are seven photographs showing Pyongyang-ites in grief.
The original PDF files of the newspaper pages can be downloaded from the Rodong Sinmun website. The same site also includes conventional web versions of the same stories. If you need to cut and paste the articles it’s easier to do it from the website.
I’ve also placed the PDFs below.
A familiar newscaster dressed in black appears on screen and makes a tearful announcement: Kim Jong Il is dead. When North Korean state TV and radio broke the news at noon on Monday they had already given advance notice that a major announcement was coming. Its delivery was an attempt to set a national mood of mourning.
On the Internet things were a bit different with the news being carried as if it was any other story.
North Korea’s state media ventured online last year when a new Internet connection was brought to Pyongyang. The state-run news agency, the major national daily and the international radio outlet all have websites and steadily churn out daily propaganda about economic growth, scientific breakthroughs and the trips of Kim Jong Il across the country.
The audience is purely international — almost no one in North Korea has Internet access — and the subject matter not one that lends itself to breaking news. So perhaps it’s not surprising that North Korea’s media didn’t immediately replace their sites with somber pictures, banner headlines, or breaking news tag.
First word came shortly after midday — after the news had broke on TV and radio — with bulletins on the KCNA website.
KCNA’s Korean front page was pretty much the same. North Korea’s other websites, the national Rodong Sinmum daily and Voice of Korea international radio service, didn’t bother to immediately update their websites. Uriminzokkiri, a China-based site with close links to Pyongyang, was also slow out the gate in getting the news up.
But don’t read too much into this. The death of Kim Jong Il is a huge event for the country and the state propaganda machine. The lack of national mourning on the websites is likely much more to do with an inability to turn around a slick website redesign in hours that anything else.
A little over an hour after the announcement, KCNA had added a picture to its front page: