So once again, KCNA has turned its AP propaganda amplifier up to eleven, informing us of that, according to “rare interviews … with Pyongyang residents,” North Koreans don’t trust the Americans to keep the post-Groundhog Day Agreement. The correspondent quotes a grand total of five North Koreans, including one soldier, one lieutenant colonel, a Foreign Ministry official, and two women whose occupations are not listed. Typically for the AP’s recent reports from Pyongyang, it invites more questions than it answers, such as how the correspondents located this scientific random sample of North Korean citizens, and how many regime minders were standing on each side of them taking careful notes during the interviews. Then, based on this dubious sample, the AP report suggests that these views are representative of the North Korean people as a whole. That has to be the implication, because there wouldn’t be anything remotely newsworthy in reporting that 100% of North Koreans interviewed in the presence of regime minders remain deeply suspicious of America’s intentions.
And of course, the AP isn’t the first news agency — not including KCNA — to broadcast man-on-the-street interviews as evidence of North Korean public opinion:
Kim Jong Il Announces Plan To Bring Moon To North Korea
We should at least be thankful that the AP felt compelled to inform its readers, with breathtaking understatement, that “North Koreans are subject to daily propaganda,” and that “the views of those interviewed often reflected what is said by the government.” And to be completely fair, this is indeed a fact that The Onion did not report first.
I presume this report was filed by the AP’s Pyongyang correspondent, Jean H. Lee, although her byline doesn’t appear on the story. Since the AP signed a content-distribution deal with KCNA, followed by a ceremony opening its new Pyongyang bureau, it has published at least one fake KCNA photo, filed a stunningly naive report on a North Korean “press conference” that was widely panned by New York Times readers, and a report on Kim Jong Il’s first post-mortem birthday that was strikingly similar to this Onion report.
No doubt, both reports are a reflection on Kim Jong Il’s high approval rating before his death:
In The Know: Kim Jong-Il’s Approval Rating Plummets to 120%
On the more positive side, AP television appears to have finally published a report on China’s repatriation of North Korean refugees, on the same day I published a post criticizing it for failing to cover the story. On the same day, I emailed the AP and asked them for copies of their subscriber agreement with KCNA, and any agreements relating to the opening of its Pyongyang Bureau. The AP has yet to respond. Transparency is for other people, I guess.
Anyway, since I brought up the refugee repatriation story, I’ll link this piece by Melanie Kirkpatrick, writing at the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal.