Every time the Olympics come around, there is an effort to showcase the host country’s history and culture. This can be innocent enough, unless you are an NBC analyst who is not up to speed on early to mid-20th century Korean history. But, when the Olympics are held in Pyeongchang, South Korea, talk of North Korea inevitably arises.
In the months leading up to the Olympics, some feared North Korea would try to disrupt the games. Eventually, North Korea stated it would not disrupt the games and would enter the opening ceremonies under a unified flag and field a joint women’s hockey team. One American IOC member suggested the joint hockey team be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize – the same illustrious award given to noted advocates of peace like Yasser Arafat and Ang Sun Suu Kyi.
The whole world applauded this new step towards peace. Well, almost everyone.
Vice President Mike Pence represented the United States at the opening ceremonies and made it clear he was not going to be moved by any North Korean charm offensive. He was seated near Kim Yo-Jong, the sister of Kim Jong-un. One picture went viral of Kim glancing at Pence as the vice president cheered Team USA as they entered the stadium.
Mike Pence vs. Kim Jong Un’s sister is basically amazing. pic.twitter.com/aMrwYScNz8
— Mike Rundle (@flyosity) February 10, 2018
Thus began the media’s love affair with Kim Yo-Jong. The New York Times touted her diplomatic skills, saying she had turned on the charm and took the spotlight away from Vice President Pence, all while criticizing the administration’s approach to North Korea. The Washington Post ran the headline “The ‘Ivanka Trump of North Korea’ captivates people in the South at the Olympics.” CNN suggested she would receive the diplomatic gold medal if such a thing existed.
Kim Yo-Jong is the vice-head of North Korea’s propaganda and agitation department. Propaganda in North Korea includes the ideas that Kim il-Sung defeated the Japanese and that the United States started the Korean War.
The regime in North Korea is the most barbaric regime in the world today. North Korea is a giant gulag masquerading as a country. North Korean athletes are quarantined from other athletes and are under 24 hour security surveillance, not for their own protection, but to prevent them from defecting. Kim Yo-Jong is not an innocent bystander; she is an active participant.
Another North Korean attraction for the media included the synchronized female cheering sections dubbed the “Army of Beauties.” According to some, these regimented cheering sections of women wearing all red and moving in unison on the orders of the state
remind them of the Handmaid’s Tale are adorable. Vice, yes Vice, had to remind many that these women are there to cheer on North Korea and tow the party line… or else.
After a 2005 performance, 21 members of North Korea's cheer squad were sent to a prison camp for speaking about what they saw in South Korea pic.twitter.com/SdgYfCtktW
— VICE News (@vicenews) February 12, 2018
Those cheerleaders perform knowing that the heavy iron fist of the state is waiting to crush them if they step out of line. In North Korea you exist to do whatever your overlords in Pyongyang tell you to do. Furthermore, few will be able to watch the games on television, and even then, they will only see the parts that the state allows.
Peace, contrary to what we are told, has not come to the Korean Peninsula. The stated goal of both the US and South Korea remains: a denuclearized North Korea. Anybody who thinks a hockey team that will disband in a couple of weeks is going to convince Kim to give up his nukes is a liar, a fool, or both.
There are many difficult jobs throughout the world, but over the first days of the Olympics, the easiest has been that of the North Korean media propaganda division. All they have to do is repeat what the American media has said.