CDT previously reported on the recent “Directive From the Ministry of Truth” that sent out instructions to Chinese journalists to stop reporting on the personal lives of North Korean leaders, with a particular emphasis on Kim Jong-un’s facelift. Rumors of Kim Jong-un’s facelift were originally reported on Shenzhen Satellite TV. Mark Fisher says North Korea has chastised China by publicly rebuking the rumor, from The Washington Post:
Rather, it’s surprising to see state media even acknowledging the coverage of the rumor, and thus implicitly the rumor itself. Perhaps most significant of all is North Korea’s decision to chastise Chinese media. Beijing isn’t just North Korea’s most important ally, its policies – watering down U.N, sanctions, limiting the flow of North Korean defectors, providing investment and hard currency – are crucial for the regime’s survival. You would think that North Korea’s propagandists would be extremely careful to avoid even the slightest sliver of daylight between the two countries.
Still, even if this incident is over, it might not be the last time that Chinese media and social media, where the rumor circulated long before appearing on Shenzhen TV, upsets North Korea. The recent scandal over censors restricting Southern Weekend, long relatively free for a Chinese paper, exposed the degree to which the Chinese increasingly consume and even expect news media that serves them. Social media’s reach and raucous freedom are expanding as well, all of which threatens to bring Chinese attitudes toward North Korea closer to the surface.
North Korea is still seen as an ally by many people in China, where students learn in school about the “Help Korea, Oppose America” war, Beijing-based journalist Helen Gao wrote in The Atlantic last year. But there is also a growing sense that Pyongyang’s backward policies are an embarrassment to and burden on
« Back to Article