- Chinese tech companies are censoring phrases considered to be insulting to Kim Jong Un.
- The term “Fatty Kim the Third” appears to be blocked on Weibo and Baidu, while “Fatty on the Train,” “Prosperous Fat,” and “Kim the Third Pig” have been censored.
- Blocking the terms seems to have occurred days ahead of Kim’s Tuesday summit with President Donald Trump.
- To get around regular censorship, Chinese internet users have gotten creative with the terms they use.
China appears to be censoring searches of words and phrases insulting to Kim Jong Un ahead of the US-North Korea summit on Tuesday.
Business Insider discovered the term “Fatty Kim the Third” appears to have been censored on both microblogging site Weibo and Chinese search engine Baidu. When the characters 金三胖 (pronounced Jin San Pang) are searched on these platforms, no results come up, despite dozens of articles being listed earlier in the year.
Empty results also occurred when Business Insider searched for other common nicknames for Kim, including “Prosperous Fat” (鑫胖). “Kim the Third Pig” (金三猪) turns up zero posts on Weibo and nothing from the last two years on Baidu, while “Fatty Kim Two Plus One” (金二加一胖) appears to be blocked on Baidu, but not on Weibo.
It’s likely Beijing is trying to promote a positive perception of North Korea ahead of President Donald Trump’s summit with Kim on Tuesday, and a potential China-Russia-North Korea meeting in the future.
Business Insider’s findings come after Yonhap reported that China has “completely blocked internet searches for words and articles” that could be used to insult Kim Jong Un. But unlike in the past, Kim’s name and other insults like “Fatty the Third” (三胖子) have not been blocked.
Earlier this year, China censored the term “Fatty on the Train” (胖坐火车) after people tried to avoid censorship of Kim’s name and “North Korea” during the leader’s surprise visit to Beijing by rail. Searching the term now on Weibo, Business Insider found no posts between January 2017 and May 2018.
Pyongyang has reportedly asked China to scrub unflattering nicknames of Kim in the past. But China maintains a strong bent toward censorship regardless of North Korea, which inadvertently pushes Chinese internet users to get creative with their search terms in order to avoid censorship algorithms and the thousands of human censors hired by large tech companies.
When Beijing ended presidential term limits earlier this year, dozens of words were banned on social media including just the letter ‘n’. Censors also tried to block #metoo, but women instead used the term “Rice Bunny” (米兔) which is pronounced ‘mi tu.’
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