Media Criticism Useful Idiocy

Minjok Tongshin is just Stormfront for pro-Pyongyang Koreans

It’s not worth spending all that much time discussing Minjok Tongshin, despite the fact that when Pyongyang’s official “news” agency, KCNA, talks about an “internet newspaper of Koreans in the U.S.,” odds are it’s referring to Minjok Tongshin, the smaller western cousin of the Korean-American National Coordinating Council. Recently, the site’s proprietor, Ken Roh, or Roh Kil-nam was the subject of a not-very-sympathetic portrayal by Buzzfeed. You may not think NK News’s more recent interview of Roh was exactly sympathetic, but it certainly wasn’t probing, either.

And then there’s Minjok Tongshin: a website believed – by the Republic of Korea government at least – to be so subversive and dangerous that it cannot legally be read from South Korean territory.

Some of its content, to be fair, bears a striking resemblance to the materials which Pyongyang itself regularly publishes: articles about Kimchi-making in the DPRK are interspersed with articles denouncing former South Korean President Park Geun-hye as a “traitor,” and pieces slamming “ridiculous anti-DPRK propaganda.”

As a result of the website’s unique characteristics, NK News has long wanted to speak to Roh Kil-nam, the Korean-American man based out of Glendale, California who’s a driving force behind Minjok Tongshin. Whatever he’s doing, North Korea seem to largely approve, having accepted him to travel in the the DPRK over 70 times, though the makeup of his readership and nature of his funding have remained mysterious. [NK News]

Roh then goes on to present himself as a peace-loving unification activist — all of which goes unchallenged by two otherwise excellent reporters with formidable research skills and a number of Korean-speaking reporters at their disposal. But whereas Buzzfeed’s article can be described as incomplete, what NK News provides ends up being a gross distortion. To report accurately on what Minjok Tongshin really stands for and promotes, you have to begin with the content that’s posted there. Among other things, we learn that some of those who post on Minjok Tongshin have big post-election plans.

We also learn that Minjok Tongshin has a lot in common with Stormfront.


Sure, you say, those are just things posted by nutty users on Minjok’s bulletin board. Fine, then.

오는 5, 국가채무이자지불을 해결하지 못하면 미 연방재정이 파탄 나는 상황에서 제45대 미 대통령 트럼프에게 닥쳐오는 위기는 《칼빈슨》 핵 항모와 돈에 목숨을 판 용병들의 정신세계로는 정치사상강군 조선을 이길 수가 없음에도 군수산업체들과 유대자본의 협박에 굴복한 칼빈슨으로 조선의6차 핵 시험을 막아보려는 속임수도 들통나버린 오늘 감당할 수 없는 무자비한 조선의 정치군사적 압박을 앞으로 어떻게 막아낼지는 알 수 없으나 “북조선 문제해결은 내 책임이고 한 스스로의 말이 예측 가능한 진담이기를 기대하는 동시에 미국 제일주의고름이 결코 살이 되지 않는 진실”도 깨닫기를 바란다. ()  [link]

Hat tip to a reader. I won’t translate all of it, but the essence of it is that a combination of the military-industrial complex and “Jewish capital” are trying to intimidate North Korea out of doing another nuke test.

To be clear, I agree with the implication that South Korea’s censorship of these sites is dumb. Koreans are internet-savvy enough to find ways around the blocks and filters. Censorship just gives this content the lure of the forbidden and amplifies its appeal to the attention-seeking, daddy-never-loved-me demographic of losers who feel cheated by a world that never appreciated their latent greatness. Inevitably, those people are going to find one extremist ideology or another. The more violent the rhetoric, the greater its promise to upend a system that has “assigned” them a low station in life, and to offer revenge against those they perceive to have wronged them.

Now, I’d like to hope that we’re talking about a small band of nutters who have no real influence on global events anyway. But news outlets are now covering Minjok Tongshin, and if they are, their obligation extends to exploring their subject matter in more depth than merely accepting Mr. Roh’s statements at face value. Take the silk screen off your lens and show us what kind of hate we’re really dealing with here.

NK News has done some excellent reporting by finding and reporting facts that others missed. Here is an example of the opposite. Despite its occasional misses like this one, I remain a fan. I hope they’ll do better next time.


  1. Hi Josh,

    This interview happened through total chance on the spot in Kim Il Sung square and was limited to less than five minutes.

    We did allude to this in the article, but seems you are missing that part.

    It’s hardly an exhaustive probe and wasn’t intended to be.



  2. Ken Roh should immediately take himself and his 6 or 7 supporters here in the US to Pyongyang and STAY THERE. He says he left Korea to escape Park Chung-Hee, yet he praises(while living IN THE US) his “grandfather” Kim Il-Sung, Jong-Il and Jong Un when they have positively EXECUTED thousands of innocent Koreans!

    Ken Roh is the dumbest Korean-American piece of shit of our time who deserves to spend rest of his life in a dumpy Yonggakdo hotel with two Drosniks eating black potatoes for the rest of his sorry life…


  3. Chad O’Carroll writes that the NKNEWS interview with Roh, Kil-nam “did allude” to the fact that Roh’s website often features overt Jew-hatred, calls for violence against Americans, and justifications (even praise) for terrorist attacks? Really? I must have missed that part of the interview! Just like NKNEWS missed all that content on Roh’s site!


  4. It seems that Chad O’Carroll is implying in his response to Josh
    that he was unable to mention in his article about (and interview
    with) Roh that the Minjok Tongshin site is overtly anti-semitic
    and includes calls for violence against America and Americans
    (including government officials), because the interview in Pyongyang happened by chance. However, this is a bit odd, because Chad notes in the article that he was well aware of Roh and his site and had been hoping to interview him for quite some time.


  5. In the intro it explains we bumped into him, and had a short chat. Last paragraph.

    Lawrence, thanks for your feedback.


  6. I see. Well, I suppose it is just a question of journalistic judgment.

    If I were interviewing a Nobel Prize winner, I would ask him/her
    about his reaction to winning the prize.

    If I were interviewing the author of a new book, I would ask him/her about that work and its reception.

    If I were interviewing a investment guru, I would ask him where
    he thought the markets were headed.

    If I were interviewing Roh, I would ask him about that fact that the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which is a fairly well-known institution, has condemned in a public statement the anti-semitic content featured on his website, or at the very least mention that he was the recipient of the “Kim, Il-sung Medal,” a feat few other overseas supporters have accomplished.



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