We've already taken note of the mainstream media's swoon over Kim Jo Jong, sister of North Korea's dictator and herself a high official in the prison state, who attended the winter Olympics on behalf of her murderous brother (here and here).
While the American press was going ga ga over Ms. Kim, who in their view "outflanked" Vice President Pence (whose meetings with North Korean dissidents went almost unreported upon) on the diplomatic front, IWF's Claudia Rosett has put together some information on what Ms. Kim does by way of her day job in the hermit kingdom. Claudia writes in this morning's Wall Street Journal:
Missing from most of the media coverage was any detail about Ms. Kim’s day job in Pyongyang. In North Korea this kid sister has served under Big Brother as a deputy director of the powerful and omnipresent Propaganda and Agitation Department. She has apparently racked up a record so stellar that last year the U.S. Treasury blacklisted her as a top North Korean official tied to “notorious abuses of human rights.” Mr. Kim gave her an alternate seat on his politburo.
In blacklisting Ms. Kim, the Treasury specified that her department “controls all media in the country, which the government uses to control the public.” That’s an understatement. The Propaganda and Agitation Department’s mission is to control not only media but minds—to indoctrinate all North Koreans, at all levels, in the absolute supremacy of Kim Jong Un and his Workers’ Party.
A 2014 report by a special United Nations commission on human rights in North Korea found that “there is an almost complete denial of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.” That entails a pervasive normalization of evil. Any deviation is suppressed via imprisonment, torture and execution. The commission found the regime carries out crimes against humanity on a scale “that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world.”
In a detailed report published last year by the Washington -based Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, Robert Collins and Amanda Mortwedt Oh described the Propaganda and Agitation Department as playing “a key role in justifying Kim family rule through domestic and external propaganda.” They added that entire families may be punished if one member is suspected of dissent. The aim is to ensure the survival, glorification and total power of the Kim regime and its hereditary tyrant.
Also in the North Korean delegation to the winter games was Choe Hwi, a vice director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department. Mr. Choe, according to the U.S. Treasure, “has reportedly been responsible for maintaining ideological purity.” He is chairman of North Korea’s National Sports Guidance Committee. A word like "guidance" has an Orwellian ring in a totalitarian regime.
I hesitate to mention ABC's The View, which parodies itself daily, but can't help noticing that the ladies of The View mocked Vice President Pence for not standing for the combined North and South Korean team and compared this unfavorably to NFL players who refuse to stand during tour national anthem.
Let that sink in: not standing to honor a murderous regime that starves its own people, while Ms. Kim and her brother live in luxury, is the equivalent of not standing for our national anthem. In other View-related news, the women mocked Pence for his Christian religion, which Joy Behar said might be a form of "mental illness."
If anything, ABC late night comedian Jimmy Kimmel managed to be even more disturbing. Kimmel recognized that the North Korean cheerleaders sent to the games weren't exactly cheering because they were sports lovers:
“These women are cheering like their lives depended on it… because they do. They literally do,” Kimmel joked.
Kimmel found this funny. Indeed, Kimmel and his audience couldn't get over what a hoot it is that people from a totalitarian regime are forced to cheer for the dictator's sports teams. Here is a description of the show:
After showing a clip of the North Korean cheerleaders to the audience, the late-night talk show host admitted that he thought the cheers were “catchy” and that it looked “like fun.”
“We should try — we should see if we can do it here with our studio audience,” Kimmel said.
He divided the clip into two parts, replaying the first part to the audience, who would then attempt to do it themselves.
“Great, very well done!” Kimmel exclaimed. “I’m impressed.”
Kimmel then played the second part and the audience imitated the cheer.
“I can’t imagine how insane this sounds in North Korea,” Kimmel laughed.
He finally had the audience do the entire cheer at once, which he said he felt “like a dictator.”
What does it mean that a large segment of the media and entertainment industry in the U.S. either praise the envoy of a totalitarian country or, on the other hand, find those oppressed by that government, cheering for their lives, funny?
Ignorance and heartlessness–it't not a good look.