‘Charm Offensive’

American Media Just Can’t Resist North Korean Propaganda

Without saying a single word, one of North Korea’s top leaders won a propaganda victory with Western media outlets.

Reuters/The Daily Beast

Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, scored a major diplomatic victory when she appeared at the winter Olympics in Pyeongchang on Friday and invited South Korea’s president for historic diplomatic talks in North Korea.

But while some analysts said the hermit kingdom’s representatives outmaneuvered the American diplomatic delegation to the Olympics, the North Koreans also managed to pull one over on some American journalists, who seemed enthralled and entertained by the “charm offensive” Kim Yo Jong was waging at the Olympics.

American media outlets from The Washington Post to the The New York Times focused intently on Kim’s physical appearance and described her as a slick departure from the North’s traditional bombast.

Yahoo News noted the numerous human rights abuses perpetrated by the North Korean regime but nonetheless described Kim as “a fresh face” who “got her star turn” and “mesmerized the country.” The site said she appeared “confident and sophisticated,” and described her international education and globe-trotting shopping habits.

In a profile calling her “North Korea’s Ivanka Trump,” CNN said Kim “is stealing the show” and added that “if ‘diplomatic dance’ were an event at the Winter Olympics, Kim Jong Un's younger sister would be favored to win gold.”

“With a smile, a handshake and a warm message in South Korea's presidential guest book, Kim Yo Jong has struck a chord with the public just one day into the PyeongChang Games,” CNN reported, in a story with bylines from seven staffers.

Kim wasn’t the only North Korean envoy to score high marks from some media outlets.

Sporting coordinated outfits and taking up entire sections of arena bleachers, North Korean cheerleaders went viral on Friday when they appeared during a speed skating competition.

They waved flags, chanted, and sang propagandistic slogans, earning praise from the audience, including a few American athletes.

“Oh my god, it was awesome,” American speedskater Lana Gehring said, according to USA Today. “They were just doing their little chants and flag waves. I have never seen that before. And their [songs] are so in sync it is like they’ve been practicing them for years.”

Both ABC News and The Wall Street Journal marveled at the costume changes and sloganeering but failed to mention North Korea’s human rights abuses or the sad, dark history of North Korea’s cheerleaders.

Amid the occasional saber rattling by both U.S. and North Korean leaders, it seems unlikely that a few bizarre cheerleading stunts will permanently change many Americans’ minds about the hermit kingdom.

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Perhaps the greater consequence of the media’s omissions is the opening it provides for critics to further undermine trust in American news outlets.

“The liberal media, not holding back from making Kim Jong Un’s sister their shining star at the Olympics,” Fox & Friends Weekend host Pete Hegseth declared on Saturday.