We simultaneously portray these rival countries as …
1) rapidly militarizing, unstable supervillains who must be dealt with swiftly, but also
2) inept buffoons with a far inferior military whom the U.S. would crush instantly in any action.
These two somehow-not-conflicting notions then dovetail perfectly to help us both justify a war and make said war seem super easy and winnable. It’s really a perfect propaganda tool for our military – citizens are not gonna rush to enlist for some war where it sounds like they’ll definitely be killed. But do you actually feel “afraid” of Kim Jong-un at all? Don’t you feel like, 70 percent sure you could take him in an arm wrestling match or a game of darts, even though you definitively suck at both? Why do you suppose that is?
Take this New York Post headline. Piggyback rides! North Korea looks like some new CBS Hogan’s Heroes reboot that’s now called HOGAN and somehow features no Asian actors. And sure, The Post is a tabloid that can squeeze a full goofy article out of “Guy kind of looks like he’s on another guy,” but consider these other North Korea headlines it printed this month alone.
North Korea is a credible threat that’s hellbent on destroying the U.S. and its Pacific allies, but fortunately, it also consists of a bunch of piggyback-riding children playing dress-up who we’ll crush in eight seconds as soon as we’re finally like “fiiiine” and get around to doing it.
This same pattern was extremely evident in the lead-up to the Iraq War.
North Korean defectors setting off balloons from South Korea carrying anti-dictatorial propaganda over the border. They transport posters, sweets, money and USB devices. The posters feature slogans which translate to “humanity against Kim Jong-un” and the flash drives contain South Korean TV programmes and documentaries in order to quell the rumours distributed by North Korean authorities about its neighbouring country. Once the balloons fall, cooperating insiders collect the USB sticks and subtly drop them onto the floors of market places and other bustling areas so that that the intrigued public will pick them up and watch the content. The aim is to provide the indoctrinated population of North Korea with a taste of outside luxuries in order to encourage citizens unknowingly oppressed by the regime to bravely attempt an escape. Thousands of these balloons are sent on a yearly basis.
On the fifth floor of South Korea’s sprawling National Library is a place far more fascinating than its name suggests: The North Korea Information Center.
Here you can read every edition of North Korea’s national newspaper, the Rodong Sinmun, dating to its first publication in the 1970s. Or peruse a collection of 100,000 North Korean books and videos — fiction, nonfiction and the complete teachings of the autocratic dynasty that runs the country.
In addition to political propaganda, there is also a North Korean children’s book section. And there are textbooks. (Calculus problems are exactly the same in North Korea, but the textbooks have much less color.)
“There are very few places worldwide where you can get most of this stuff that is surrounding us,” says Christopher Green, a North Korea scholar from University of Leiden, who spends a lot of his time here doing research.
Researchers know about this place, which opened in the late 1980s during a thaw in inter-Korean relations. But the library isn’t advertised. Most South Koreans have never heard of it, and they can face jail time for having these materials out in the wild.
North Koreans want a peace treaty and an end to economic sanctions. And they want to secure their country from any kind of imperial invasion, such as took place in Iraq and Libya. They are not provoking the international community; that is the spin based on Washington’s dominance in the international community at the UN. Just three weeks ago the US carried out a bomb, a nuclear bomb-dropping drill that simulated the nuclear destruction of North Korea. Nobody called that provocative. When North Korea sends off a missile test saying, ‘we are not going to be bullied – that is provocative. The narrative of North Korea’s ‘provocative activity’ in the face of US and South Korea carrying out the largest war exercises in the world, simulating the invasion and the destruction of North Korea that is never considered a provocation. That is a double standard, and we need to stop accepting the dominant narrative offered by Washington, the Pentagon and echoed by the mainstream media.
Adam Garrie, ‘When US simulates the bombing of N.Korea, nobody calls that a provocation’, RT
During the Korean War, U.N. forces dropped more than 2.5 billion propaganda leaflets on North Korea, because the Korean War was really a war against trees. All environmental concerns aside, it’s a tactic that the Korean people really took to heart, because they seemingly never miss an opportunity to bombard the other side with all manner of antagonistic crap.
Choco Pies, for example.
To explain why a storm of chocolaty treats would get all up in Kim Jong Un’s craw, we need to rewind a bit. See, Choco Pies were once handed out as bonuses to North Korean workers manning South Korean factories. The treats became so popular with the impoverished Northerners that they transformed into an ersatz currency, to the tune of more than 2.5 million of the valuable confectionsbeing traded each month. This, of course, did not sit well with the regime, and they quickly quashed the market by producing their own, shittier Choco Pies and banning the authentic ones.
South Korean protesters responded in the only rational way: They loaded up gigantic helium balloons with 10,000 Choco Pies and floated them across the border. Kim Jong Un predictably threw a fit, threatening to shell the launch sites before going full-on Cookie Monster on every last Choco Pie, probably.
Now, what does chocolate inevitably lead to? Sex! And, at least according to North Korean strategic documents, that’s another thing South Korea has been dropping all over them.