Unjust Portrayal of North Korea: Debate Assessment
North Korea is among the most strictly controlled in the world and exposing information has been a challenging concern. Due to repressive and secretive North Korean state policy, accurate information on North Korea is limited and often acquired at great risk. U.S. analysts will sometimes go to extreme measures to retrieve information and other times they will publish recurring, unreliable and made-up stories to please and catch the attention of their audience.
U.S. media coverage of North Korea is disrupted by a lack of reliable information. The North Korean government places firm restrictions on foreign reporters by limiting their freedom and interactions between locals, although if and when they are granted the opportunity to do so they are kept under strict supervision and being under strict control does not leave space for journalists to explore. They can only gather information from what they see, what they want to see (their perception) and/or what the North Korean government wants them to see. In the absence of many well-founded facts, many reports continue to be built upon claims, distortions and hearsay. And by popular demand of news from North Korea in the West, stories are frequently widely broadcasted in the U.S. while neglecting to check facts and analyze. So why is it that so many people, including the U.S., continue to treat these implausible stories as plausible? This is a problem particular to stories on North Korea, of which almost any story is treated as credible, no matter how absurd it may be.
In addition, some journalists and analysts have never had the chance to visit North Korea or have very limited access/knowledge and as a result their publications heavily rely on speculations and scanty information from unsupported sources, such as defectors. Similar to defectors, we cannot solely rely on the information the reporter discloses. A reporter might fail to recognize that how he/she...