What North Koreans Know About The Summit Speaks Volumes About How The Country Is Run
The upcoming meeting between North Korea's Kim Jong Un and American President Donald Trump has dominated headlines for months. But as you fret over every detail, tweet, and news report, one of the countries involved continues to provide its citizens with very little information. And if you've read any of Trump's tweets on the meeting, you know it's not the United States. Just how much North Koreans know about the summit in Singapore speaks volumes about how the Kim dynasty runs the country.
North Korea — like many similar regimes — engages its people with state-run media, meaning what's publicized on television and in newspapers is funneled through the government first. And the state-run media in Pyongyang is taking advantage of that fact and "rationing" what North Koreans know about the Trump-Kim summit, according to BBC.
BBC reported that the media has not yet mentioned the summit that's dominated your headlines. Instead, it's waiting to announce something until after an event happens. Apparently the idea of a summit similar to what's about to happen in Singapore has been mentioned only a few times, like when North Korea threatened to pull out of the talks in mid-May, according to The New York Times.
Reports on state television, radio broadcasts, and newspaper reports indicate that a "dialogue" was initiated by Kim through his New Year's Day speech. Thus, citizens may know a summit is happening, but lack a lot of the specifics, BBC reported.
A date is apparently mentioned — buried, even — in a previous report on Kim's meeting with South Korea President Moon Jae-in, where the two men met at the Military Demarcation Line in the Korean demilitarized zone, according to the news outlet. That's the trip where Kim became the first North Korean leader to visit its southern neighbor.
A separate report in state newspaper about the visit of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Pyongyang in May also mentions preparations for the summit, according to BBC. The report notes that the way the state-media story is written makes it looks like the United State requested a meeting or dialogue between the historic enemies, instead of North Korea asking.
In January, reporters for ABC News watched a week of state-run television in North Korea to better understand how the country runs its media. Their report described a week's worth of viewing as: "This channel is of the Kims, by the Kims, and for the Kims."
As few as two reporters for North Korea's state media accompanied Kim to the Singapore meeting, according to a report from Reuters. The two camera operators wore the same black suits with enamel pins of former North Korean leaders pinned to their jackets.
To capture Kim's arrival at the five-star St. Regis hotel, one stood up in the sunroof an SUV to capture the approaching motorcade and the crowd, according to Reuters.
The most active channel in North Korea state television is Korean Central Television, and it broadcasts about seven hours each weekday, according to ABC News. Two other channels only broadcast for a few hours each day because of a lack of electricity. According to the report, daily broadcasts start at 3 p.m., and there are two news reports each day.
"There is no need to consider the viewer’s preference because KCTV has no competition," An Chan-il, a North Korean defector who is now head of the Seoul-based World Institute for North Korea Studies, told ABC News for its January report.
BBC reports that those two daily news reports take place at approximately 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. local time, similar to American-style broadcast news.