8 January 1984
Supreme Leader of North Korea since 17 December 2011
Predator since taking office
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea 179th/180 in RSF’s 2021 World Press Freedom Index
PREDATORY METHOD: Totalitarian surveillance, mass propaganda and the death penalty
The late dictator Kim Jong-il’s youngest son and successor, Kim Jong-un is the supreme leader of a totalitarian regime that bases its power on surveillance, repression, censorship and propaganda. Kim constantly tramples on Article 67 of the country's constitution, enshrining freedom of the press, and restricts the media to imparting content that praises the party, the military and himself. As a result of the regime’s desire for complete isolation from the world, journalists have been arrested, deported, sent to forced labour camps and killed. The few foreign reporters allowed to visit the country are barred from talking with ordinary citizens and are followed at every step by officials, which results in North Korea being one of the least-visited destinations for journalists worldwide. North Korean citizens can only legally access news provided by the regime’s propaganda mouthpiece, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), and can be sentenced to life imprisonment in a concentration camp just for watching or listening to smuggled information from abroad, while anyone caught importing large amounts of content could face the death penalty.
FAVOURITE TARGETS: Foreign journalists
International media outlets with a presence in the country are closely watched and independent reporting remains nearly impossible. Foreign journalists who manage to enter North Korea need to be prepared for possible harassment by the government. Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, a British journalist working for the BBC, was arrested and deported in May 2016 for “attacking the system of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea'' and practicing “non-objective journalism.” In 2017, four South Korean journalists were sentenced to death in absentia by a North Korean court after giving positive reviews of North Korean Confidential, a book critical of the regime.
OFFICIAL DISCOURSE: Totalitarian control
“Elementary propaganda officials must become fearless zealots who work tirelessly until people fully understand the Party's policies and until their unit projects reach the height desired by the Party. We need propagandists and mobilisers who continue to spread flames.” (Kim Jong-un in a letter to propaganda officials on 9th March, 2019).