This study identifies the impacts of disinformation on the citizens of North Korea in the 21st century. I intend to discuss the difference between propaganda and disinformation, and how disinformation is currently widespread throughout the country by examining North Korean efforts in lying about officials’ credibility and commonly-known aspects of global history in order to justify their oppressive regime, as well as interviews with refugees and government-issued documents. Said documents, such as textbooks, have deliberately been altered to misinform the public and create animosity towards countries such as Japan and the United States. Although initially conditioned to not question the government and its laws, the fall of the USSR taught North Koreans that they must act for themselves–relying on the government after the USSR fell resulted in a devastating famine that killed an estimated one million people. It is important to distinguish disinformation from propaganda in order to understand that North Koreans are naive, not brain-washed. Efforts such as selling illegal foreign imports in Chinese Yuan and bribing police are not spoken about in Western media (most only see government-approved messages), but are significant to the ordinary people that engage in them. Disinformation has shaped their acts against the government. Additionally, for those who cannot seek refuge, idolizing media from its neighbors geographically is crucial in realizing their naivete and countering the disinformation that has been fed to them. The perceived image of a nationalistic, military-obsessive, anti-Western public is a reality that has faded away in the 21st century.
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Alba, Kelcie, "North Koreans and the Fight Against Disinformation in Contemporary Society" (2022). Research Days Posters 2022. 87.