PR in “Black Hole” North Korea

North Korean citizens and journalists have the right to press freedom, according to Article 53 of the constitution. Why is it that North Korea is constantly being deemed the largest information void in the world according to Reporters Without Borders? Freedom of speech and press freedom are only allowed in support of the government. Public relations in North Korea does not exist in the way we are used to seeing it.

Promotional activities aimed toward the growth of a company does not exist in North Korea. This changes our very perception of advertisements and the way in which we read news. Imagining hearing the praise of Barrack Obama every single day, as North Korean media does with leader Kim Jong il. The government prohibits anyone from listening to foreign media broadcasts, and severe punishment awaits those who are caught. Only government officials have access to foreign media and business statistics. Employees working within a specific organization may have knowledge of that organization, but everything is overseen through the government.

PR within North Korea is practiced only to contribute to political propaganda. While it is technically defined as PR, it’s not journalistic. Government PR control extends to all areas of academic learning and informational broadcasts. Businesses, art studios, authors, organizations and film companies are allowed to actively promote their brand or idea, as long as it somehow plays into government propaganda.

According to a report released by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), “When the state controls all media, opposition voices don’t get heard, critical analysis of the government’s performance is hidden from the public. In North Korea, the media are actively used only to foster a cult of personality around the country’s autocratic leaders.”

Public relations is all about freedom of speech. A PR practitioner without the right to promote what he or she feels is best for an employer loses all sense of accomplishment and value. One could feel like their job is lifeless and unappreciated. Personal insight goes to waste, and the mind isn’t allowed to flourish into the amazing gift that it is.

I can’t stress enough on how I feel PR doesn’t truly exist in North Korea. The citizens and journalists are isolated from the rest of the world, and the government keeps a firm grip on information by using restrictive laws, fear, and intimidation. There is simply no independent media, which means no true PR. Great minds reside all throughout the world, but the inability to express thought and have it uniformed toward one purpose is horrific, disallowing you to reach your potential.

Only a small number of foreign journalists are ever allowed to enter, and those who are allowed are guided by minders who promote what they want you to see and dismiss any provocative questions by journalists.

Live Link has an inside perspective on this taking place.

During the 1990s, the official Korean Central News Agency wouldn’t even allow coverage of a famine that affected millions of citizens because the government did not deem it as newsworthy. PR agencies that wanted to promote health warnings, places to find food and relief efforts were not allowed to do so.

I continue to wonder how the atrocity of disallowing freedom of speech and of the press is allowed to still persist in a part of the globe in this era of media revolution. The laws that bind our own privileges greatly differ from those where appearance and political “worship” is the only calling in life.


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