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Damning rhetoric

The media's demonization of North Korea has made us stupid. What will the world say when the devil Kim and the mad Trump receive the Nobel Peace Prize?


25. April was a watershed in Norwegian Korea coverage. Then Aftenposten North Korea leader Kim Jong-un simply referred to as "leader". The next day, the channel Russia Today pointed out the West's turnaround in the talk of North Korea. They were awake. For Aftenposten was not only representative of Norway, but also of the West, coverage of Korea. Aftenposten's spectacular spread was a secluded little one-column: "Jong-un visited survivors."

In my memory, this is the date when Aftenposten described North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un as the leader who visited victims after a bus accident in which many Chinese perished. He was not the dreaded, "charming," increasingly isolated dictator that readers were used to describing. The fact that the headline (perhaps incorrectly) uses the first and middle name "Jong-un" on the leader makes the description almost a little friendly, with Kim visiting the survivors and regretting the accident in "bitter grief".

Demo Cementation

This is spectacular because it not is spectacular. This is just how one is expected to respectfully describe a head of state who goes on a condolence mission. That Kim is referred to as one plain the head of state, and not surrounded by unkind words or negative puns, is groundbreaking. Just look at the Evening Post 9. January ("the increasingly isolated regime"), 13. January (Kim ironically referred to as "charming"), 18. and 20. January ("dictator"), and 2. February ("feared"). You don't have to look long to find names like the assassin, the concentration camp commander, the terrorist, the madman and – not least – the unpredictable leader. Not one mention of Kim as a nice, professional, human or social being. This is what is called "demonization". And it is damning because we are prevented from understanding.

In other words, we are talking about a geopolitical game involving much more than two conflicting brothers.

Demonstration is obviously made possible by North Korea's double isolation: the boycott, like few other countries, from economic and cultural intercourse with the outside world, combined with a self-imposed skepticism for anything foreign.

And when the media does not get food, they have to give in to what they get. Anyone who has the slightest hassle in the country becomes "experts" in the West: whether you've been on a week-long package tour of the North, received refugees or distributed aid, you're immediately cited about North Korea. And scientists have so little substantial material to build on that they can almost be called conspiracy theorists where they speculate and appear in free, academic dressage. There are honorable exceptions, but anyone who wants to rise above the general sediments that form over time must do a job, find new paths to dry and stand by the discoveries – but also have the luck and authority to let through the management so that things can come in print.


In the last few months, the West got its real picture uprooted when two smiling Korean leaders met by what is ironically called "the demilitarized zone" between the two countries. A hint had come when a beautiful and pleasant Kim sister took over the Olympic Village the month before. Where did the devil come from? What are we going to do access mean?

When fed with demonized enemy images for decades, there is a lot that needs to be cleared up when confronted with reality. And demonization is starting to become a problem when you begin to believe it yourself. And we – the media consumers – are the victims.

For it is disturbing how little Norwegians know about Korea, including South Korea, which is not physically isolated – as the North is – but strangely uncovered. We know little about the decades of Japan's assaults that are neither forgiven nor excused: the many massacres in, for example, Gwangju (1980) and Jeju (1948), which were not undertaken by "North Korean Communist devils" but by our Western allies in collaboration with corrupt and unscrupulous South Korean dictators. And although the picture is multifaceted, many South Koreans fear the United States today. And we hardly know about the 6 million protesters in the streets of South Korea in the spring of 2017 demanding a change of government
- and who got it.

America's clumsy hand

24. In May, it was reported that the United States canceled the announced North Korea summit. The following day, Trump stated that "it might be meeting anyway". We see that the unpredictable player on the Korean peninsula is primarily the United States. And that is not necessarily due to an erratic Trump, but American forces that have for decades cultivated confrontations with this part of the world, and where installations are constantly expanding in the direction of China. In other words, we are talking about a geopolitical game involving much more than two conflicting brothers.

That Kim is referred to as one plain the head of state, and not surrounded by unkind words or negative puns, is groundbreaking.

The war hawks in South Korea and the United States have long opposed the efforts to peace. They have done so in at least two ways: The combined US and South Korean military has undermined the peace initiative with a gigantic drill, close to the North Korean border, which simulates an invasion of North Korea, just weeks before the planned summit. But equally devastating to the peace efforts are statements by security adviser Bolton and Vice President Pence to "take a Gaddafi" on Kim Jong-un – that is, to bomb NATO and Norway on the basis of a fictional Responsibility to Protect initiative, which led to that Prime Minister Gadaffi was raped and killed in front of the camera. That the North Koreans reacted with disgust at such outrage was as expected – and calculated from the American hawks. That NRK's ​​Day Review that night showed Trump canceling the summit because he was annoyed at Kim's "harsh language" shows how the domestic heat NRK reporters have become to today's White House.

Nobel Peace Prize

If the summit between US and North Korean leaders is actually held, either now in June or a little further down the trail, it could be the start of a historic nuclear weapons removal process on the Korean Peninsula. It assumes that Americans stop believing they can dictate solutions, but go into a Moon-led and confidence-building process. Such an output is by no means a utopia. Then there is nothing that can save the Norwegian Nobel Committee from having to give the Nobel Peace Prize for 2018 or 2019 to the Trump of the United States Trump, South Korea's Moon and North Korea's Kim. If the Committee would appear to be politically relevant. Then you can quickly forget the controversies with the award winners Kissinger, Obama, de Klerk and the EU – because then you talk about the opportunity to make peace with all the excitement and opportunity that lies within it. As Kissinger opened the United States to China, and Reagan began talks with Gorbachev, the non-just-peace activist Trump has helped make the world a better place. It's hard to imagine something that would please Alfred Nobel more.

Post Script

When writing pieces like this, I have been told explicitly that one does not believe that North Korea is a paradise, that one does not want to absolve North Korea of ​​human rights abuses or "lay all blame on the United States".

Jones has written and worked with churches in recent years, universities and peace groups in South Korea and especially with the municipality of Hwachung on the border with North Korea, where a peace park has been set up to strengthen reunification and peace work on it
the Korean Peninsula.

John Y. Jones
John Y. Jones
Cand. Philol, freelance journalist affiliated with MODERN TIMES

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