Here is an article from today’s North Korean News. I think that this story is a clear view into the thinking of this government, its propaganda, and dysfunction. This is officially from the North Korean government, but the English version is published to the web from Japan. The highlights are added by me. And yes, I do read the North Korean News…nerdy I know, but true. We’ll discuss after the clip.
First of all, the title-what government in the world would officially call the leader of its rival country “rat-like”? Further, the title threatens the South with annihilation. This is not a new thing, by the way. North Korea does this on a regular basis. You notice that it says “Lee Myung Bak Group.” The North will not refer to the South as a separate country. It likewise does not call itself North Korea. Its official name is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). Like many Communist countries, this is funny because the country is neither democratic, nor of the people, nor a Republic. They got the Korea part correct, at least. In DPRK indoctrination, South Korea is actually a rebel group that broke off from the DPRK, and therefore, they are traitors to their country.
The next paragraph is classic North Korean propaganda. The first sentence contains a grammar error, and much of the paragraph is run-on, near garden-path sentences. They adore words like “provocative” and “sycophant”. My favorite part of the piece is the “…made by an old man more dead than alive.” They love to throw in these like sentence prefixes and suffixes that have no justification in the piece, as if by simply saying them, the statements become true. This Orwellian idea of double-speak is a mainstay of N. Korean news.
Two more paragraphs in, it threatens the South with destruction, that everyone should take seriously because of their recent “striking demonstration” of power. By this, they must mean the failed missile launch a week ago. North (and South) Korea are prime examples of the Asian obsession with face. They will do anything to prevent themselves from being publicly embarrassed. Their failed missile launch was intended to threaten the world and display their prowess around their Day of the Sun celebrations.
The embarrassment they see on the world stage will be reacted to in two ways by North Korea: First, like an abusive spouse, they will find a bad guy to focus their anger on. Reading this article makes it seem like the South were the ones embarrassing and provoking them. If you knew nothing about the events of that launch, you would think that the North had succeeded, but the South had mocked them despite their triumph.
Their second reaction will be to double down on their rhetoric and provoke further. This article threatens the South in even more harsh language than usual. They will also test another nuclear device in the next few weeks. They might even fire a few rockets, or shoot at a South Korean ship. It is all intended to deflect from their embarrassment.
A great question the world needs to ask itself, is if it can afford a country with nuclear weapons, that will use them simply to avoid their own embarrassment.
Below, I have linked a video that explains their Day of the Sun celebrations.