This army officer was making purchases at a market. He is noticeably emaciated. Taken on August 2013, in Hyesan City, Yanggang Province (ASIA PRESS)


“North Korea is a military power.”

Over the course of the last ten years the North Korean regime has succeeded in imprinting the image of the nation’s strong military in the collective conscious of the world.

The DPRK state television projects only the most favorable features of the People’s Army to the domestic and international audiences: rocket launches, military parades, tank manoeuvres, and artillery firing exercises. Such projections of power are often accompanied by aggressive sabre rattling that vacillates between threatening to turn Seoul into a “sea of fire” and launching pre-emptive nuclear strikes on enemy states.


Soldiers stretched out beside a river during a break. Taken by Lee Joon on August 2006, in Cheongjin City (ASIA PRESS)


Japanese television media have repeatedly used videos provided by the North Korean government for their own reports. The North Korean government often invites foreign media to cover military exercises and weapons demonstrations; projections of power that often accompany the more grandiose events on the Pyongyang calendar. Hungry for a scoop, foreign media outlets flock to North Korea to discover that they are only permitted to record yet another military parade in which row after row of goose stepping soldiers follow behind self-propelled rocket launchers.
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The North Korean government works hard to maintain the idea that it is a strong military power. Manicured images of its military hardware play an important role in the state propaganda. That is why they invite foreign media to cover these events. Consequently, the international media contributes to maintaining the myth of Kim Jong-un’s military might.

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