|Un A, the female North Korean presenter of Echo DPRK, a YouTube channel believed to be managed by the North Korean regime, talks in one of the channel's clips posted on May 7. / Captured from YouTube|
By Kang Seung-woo
North Korea is changing the way it promotes its closed-off regime to international audiences, with the propaganda now being produced in various and modern styles and with the presenters' signature bombastic style of speech being toned down.
It is a stark contrast to the conventional propaganda put out by its state media that was traditionally unfriendly and unilateral. It is believed the change was made following its leader Kim Jong-un's repeated instruction to develop realistic and up-to-date propaganda.
Echo DPRK, a YouTube channel that is believed to be managed by the North Korean regime, is one of the new-style outlets. Since its launch in August 2017, the channel has uploaded some 40 videos and has gained over 7,000 subscribers. DPRK stands for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, which is the North's official name.
The video channel featuring a female North Korean presenter named Un A began its propaganda in earnest last November by uploading 20 video clips that introduced the nation's major tourist destinations in the capital city of Pyongyang.
In particular, the channel gained international recognition amid the COVID-19 pandemic. With the novel coronavirus spreading across the world, there were growing concerns that the epidemic may have reached the reclusive state although it has claimed to have zero infections.
In a Feb. 29 clip, Un A explained what measures the North Korean government took to prevent the COVID-19 outbreak, while she explained in a March 24 upload why there were zero cases in the North.
In a video uploaded April 25, she visited a department store in the capital and checked if anything was out of stock, refuting foreign media reports on panic buying in Pyongyang due to speculation over its leader's poor health.
"I think fake news is the last thing we need in the time of such a fierce battle with COVID-19, and it is another reason why we should remain vigilant," she says in the video, which has been viewed over 24,000 times so far.
When its leader returned to the public eye on May 1, visiting a fertilizer plant in Sunchon, South Pyongan Province, some media outlets reported the place may be part of the North's clandestine pursuit of uranium extraction for use in nuclear weapons.
The channel posted another video on May 7, saying the factory will represent a great boost for crop production.
The North's new style of propaganda taking advantage of social media is expected to continue, as its leader pursues practical methods of promoting his country. Kim Yo-jong, sister of Kim Jong-un, is in charge of the North's propaganda department.