22 September 2005

North Korea’s Ego – Propaganda and the Big Dong

North Korean propaganda has always intrigued me. It always seems so contrived and over the top. But there is perhaps a correlation between Pyongyang’s ego and its propaganda.

Take the ever-popular moniker for South Korea’s government: “Puppet.” Pyongyang at one time only ever referred to the South Korean authorities as a puppet regime. This was designed to de-legitimize the South Korean government and served as a subtle (well, as subtle as North Korea ever is) way to show that the southern half of Korea was simply occupied by the United States, and that North Korea was the only legitimate rule on the peninsula.

Now, if you run “puppet” in the NK News' wonderful Database of North Korean Propaganda, and use the bar graph representation, you see a sudden end to the use of the term “puppet” in August 1998. This is no coincidence. It was August 31, 1998 that North Korea launched its first SLV (Satellite Launch Vehicle), the Taepo-Dong I (AKA Paekdusan-I). After this emergence onto the world stage (even if the launch wasn’t as successful as Pyongyang had hoped), North Korea significantly reduced use of the “puppet” moniker.

In September, Kim Jong Il was elected head of the NDC, and finished his extended mourning period for his late Father Kim Il Sung. The new era of Kim Jong Il had begin, and the shift toward South Korea was seen quickly. (Remember, less than two years later then South Korean President Kim Dae Jung was in Pyongyang).

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