North Korean Newspaper Goes English on Web

Last month, on the occasion of the passing of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, I reviewed the 1983 Pyongyang-published book, The Great Teacher of Journalists, which chronicled the Dear Leader’s tireless contributions to (and benevolent corrections of) the North Korean press.

Perhaps my favorite of Kim Jong-il’s counsel to his country’s journalists was this:

Comrade journalist, you must see things on the spot before you write your articles. Otherwise you may talk big.

There was also this, to photojournalists:

In fixing the place of the camera, the cameraman’s first consideration should be how to take the leader’s best picture.

The launch this week of an English language web site by North Korea’s state newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, confirms that the Dear Editor’s legacy lives on.

The site, as the [South] Korea Times tells it, exists to “amplify the North’s voice outside its borders.”

Interestingly, South Koreans, the Korea Times reports, “could access [the site] for a short time Tuesday…as the [South Korean] government handled procedures to shut it out” per a

contentious security law, enforced in 1948, [that] makes illegal both communism and the recognition of North Korea as a political entity. Despite calls that it is a restriction of the freedom of speech, it is frequently used to block North Korean propaganda and investigate those who “praise, disseminate or cooperate with anti-state groups.”

Among Rodong Sinmun articles that South Koreans will apparently miss? A January 9th report headlined, “Kim Jong Il and the Development of Cinema Art,” about how employees of the Korean Film Studio “feel sorry and guilty” that they have yet to produce “any piece portraying” the Dear Leader (who, it turns out, was also quite the Dear Director/Producer):

Under [Kim Jong-il’s] loving care many famous cinema artists including movie stars were produced…

[Korea Film Studio employees] all recalled in deep emotion that leader Kim Jong Il would come to the film studio in the morning or in the evening and sometimes deep at night and at the small hours of the morning, discussing on the scenario and guiding actors and actresses how to do their part perfectly.

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.