North Korea's state media ditches censorship in favour of celebrating a huge propaganda win

Chris McGrath/Getty ImagesOne of the photos Rodong Sinmun ran in its Tuesday edition.

  • North Korean state media broke form and featured photos of leader Kim Jong Un walking around Singapore and meeting with President Donald Trump in their latest editions.
  • North Korea typically heavily censors its content, indicating Kim’s trip abroad and meeting with Trump was a huge propaganda win.
  • The papers seem to reflect North Korea’s desire to portray itself as a legitimate player on the global stage.

North Korean state media broke form and has run two days of stories on Kim Jong Un’s trip to Singapore, including a huge spread on his meeting with President Donald Trump.

Only hours after Kim made a surprise appearance visiting popular tourist attractions in Singapore on Tuesday night, and posing for what is believed to be Kim’s first public selfie, North Korea’s Rodong Sinmun newspaper splashed 14 photos of the reclusive leader’s travels across its front page.

North korea newspaper kim trump summitKCNA WatchRodong Sinmun, North Korea’s state newspaper, shows unfiltered images Kim Jong Un in Singapore.

And on Wednesday, the official newspaper of the Workers’ Party of Korea featured three full pages of photos from Kim’s summit with Trump.

North Korea typically heavily censors its local and foreign content, with events often not being reported until several days after, if at all.

The decision to publish extensive coverage of the summit seems to reflect North Korea’s desire to portray itself to citizens as a player on the global stage, and is considered by some to be a propaganda coup.

“As expected, coverage of Kim summit with Donald Trump is plastered across first four pages of North Korea’s main Rodong Sinmun. Triumphant moment for Kim and North Korea that will become fodder for art, posters, stamps,” tweeted Jean H. Lee, director of the Korea Center at the Wilson Center.

Still, strict media censorship remains in place and the country remains cautious of how its leader is portrayed. Euan Graham, International Security Director at the Lowy Institute, previously told Business Insider that North Korean media “will cut and splice to show Kim in the most favourable light.”

The government tightly controls the flow of information from inside and outside the country, and defectors have detailed how citizens are often punished for consuming foreign media. Images of foreign countries, like the sprawling and well-lit Singapore skyline, are usually excluded from broadcasts in an attempt to hide outside information that may encourage citizens to defect.

The country was completely in the dark during Kim’s April meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. The only summit-related coverage was reports that Kim had tarveled to Panmunjom in the DMZ. Major events, like the 2018 Olympics in which North Korea sent a delegation of athletes, cheerleaders, and high-ranking officials, also faced near complete media censorship.

But Wednesday’s issue did provide some clues to North Korea watchers about how Kim is portraying the summit back home. Rodong Sinmun detailed how sanctions “could be lifted” and that talk of denuclearization was hardly mentioned.

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