If censorship is a blunt tool used to sway public opinion, propaganda is its softer twin. As a long time watcher of North Korea’s (unintentionally) highly entertaining Korean Central News Agency of the DPRK (KCNA), I was treated to a hearty laugh in early April.
The KCNA’s news typically focuses on: commemorative wreath-laying events for Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Sun; inflammatory bashing of the United States, South Korea and Japan; and, of course, on delusions about North Korea’s grandeur.
On April 8th, 2013 (or Juche 102 using the North Korean calendar), a particularly amusing story popped up about Kim Jong Un’s determination to:
“turn the beautiful country … into a splendid and highly civilized socialist fairyland and socialist land of bliss where the people’s ideals becomes a reality and they enjoy happiness.”
A completely insane aspiration and skewed view of North Korea’s potential given its present state of affairs. A “socialist fairyland” where millions of people do not have enough to eat…
Pondering Kim Jong Un’s delusions of grandeur, I am reminded of my own tendency to sanitize my expat experiences through selective Facebook propaganda. Viewed generously, expat life is full of travel, new experiences, foreign friends and funny anecdotes involving miscommunication with ‘the locals.’ I, for one, often leave out the true (and unfunny) negatives when talking about my own life abroad.
Here is a possible Facebook post of my own from May 2008, but with the negative subtext added:
Three months after this picture of me was taken, our daughter was twice hospitalized and we finally figured out why she was so ill: celiac disease. This discovery came after months of being told by her pediatrician overseas that she simply had one stomach illness after another and that it was all nothing to worry about. An American pediatrician finally figured it all out when we were on “home leave.”
One year after this picture was taken and after months of alternately thinking that we might move to Singapore/Hong Kong/Eindhoven/Seattle, we moved from China to Cambridge, England. Our expat life, despite what many might think, is not a case of being asked by “the company” to move to a new place. No, it is more a matter of my husband looking for a new job within his global company every two years.
I had been consumed with worry about both of these topics for months. Until it was all settled, however, I never shared a peep of true concern with anyone other than very, very close family.
Fortunately, unlike Kim Jong Un’s, my propaganda does not impair the lives of millions of people.