Propaganda has long been a tool used by governments to attempt to influence people at home or abroad. In 2012 the tradition continues and it is good for a laugh among the correctly informed.
KOREAN CENTRAL NEWS AGENCY of DPRK
For all the latest news from North Korea there is only one true source - the KCNA of the DPRK. At least they are very upfront about their purpose:
The Korean Central News Agency is the state-run agency of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. It speaks for the Workers' Party of Korea and the DPRK government.
It was founded on December 5, 1946. It is located in the capital city of Pyongyang. It has branches in provincial seats and in some foreign countries. News is transmitted to other countries in English, Russian, and Spanish. The KCNA is in charge of uniform delivery of news and other informations to mass media of the country, including newspapers and radios. It develops the friendly and cooperative relations with foreign news agencies.
As a state-run agency speaking for the dictatorial Kim government, the Agency is responsible for making sure the right story and the same story goes everywhere. The about page is the truest part of the whole news service. The actual news coverage ranges from the absurd to the ridiculous. Mixed in are random mundain details and true stories from other parts of the world. The effect is better then Saturday Night Live sketches.
Here are some examples:
Fake Support Groups:
Pyongyang, December 4, 2011 (KCNA) -- The North American Group for Study of the Juche and Songun Philosophy of the U.S. released a statement on November 25 in support of the just cause of the Korean people. It voiced support to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea fighting against the moves of the south Korean warmongers. This American group - if it exists - is a DPRK creation. The kicker follows though The DPRK has consistently made efforts for peace on the Korean Peninsula.
Under the headline "Kim Jong Il Praised in S. Korea we learn on Oct 23, 2007 that "The South Headquarters of the National Alliance of Youth and Students for the Country's Reunification" posted an article on it's website praising the "personality of Kim Jong Il as a great man and his imprerishable revolutionary feats" The article goes on to report lots of other wonderful things about the Leader.
And along the same line, "The Peruvian Group for the Study of Kimilsungism posted an article praising the party leadership feats of Kim Jong Il on its Internet homepage." Since no one has internet in the DPRK these wonderful articles need to be broadcast internally in North Korea.
When the news service is not promoting the idea that the Dear Leader invented all things useful, it extolls the virtues of the countries industry. For example, the Ideal Mine is reported to have a "mine village ... clad with fruit trees of various species, each house boasting of scores of fruit trees, and the mountains around the mine are covered with thick forests. The mine's night view is also fantastic, with a mess hall, sanatorium and cultural centre decorated with electric lights blending in with brightly lit dwelling houses. ...General Secretary Kim Jong Il commanded a bird's eye view of the mine and said it was a fairyland in the Songun era."
This ideal mine scene is particularly impressive since North Korea is very short of both food and electricity.
Non-Urgent Non-News - Stop the Presses!!!
Kim Jong Il Enjoys Demonstration Figure Skating Performance (Urgent)
Pyongyang, December 4 (KCNA) -- Kim Jong Il, general secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea and chairman of the DPRK National Defence Commission, enjoyed a demonstration figure skating performance.
Sorry readers, that is the entire article and no further details of the figure skating event were reported by the crack investigative reporters of the KCNA.
AMERICAN STATE DEPARTMENT
We have all heard how the American Embassy in Tehran was attacked in 1979 during the Iranian Revolution. It never reopenned,until December 2011. The United States declared the opening of a Virtual Embassy in Tehran. Acknowledging that it is not a real embassy (though the page looks like a real embassy home page) the US hopes that they can cut through the interfearance of the Iranian Government and speak directly to the people of Iran.
A State Department Blog posted in part "State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland said, "Outreach efforts like these are essential to bringing information and alternative viewpoints to the Iranian people, especially as the Iranian regime continues its efforts to control the flow of information to and from the Iranian people. This Virtual Embassy is just the first of many ways in which we will seek to challenge the Iranian regime's efforts to place an electronic curtain of surveillance, satellite jamming and online filtering around its people..."
The Tehran Virtual Embassy is available in Persian and English... outside Iran. It took the Iranian censers less than 12 hours to block access to the site from within Iran - while the Americans were still putting out press releases. The censers claim the site is illegal for locals to view. No report of American hostages this time, but without free internet access the Iranian people are being held hostage by the Government.
The American's expected the blocking of the site which they said simply offers travel information about the USA and American policy statements. The Iran news agency responded with "Lawmaker Mohammad Karamirad said that launching a virtual embassy is in line with the US psychological war launched against Iran. "Given their behavior and their meddling, the Americans will get no results from launching a virtual embassy. They are even mulling military threats to put them on their agenda if they can," he added."
Heydar Moslehi, Iran's chef spy, called the Virtual Embassy an "espionage trap" and warned young people to steer clear of the American effort.
I'd have to agree that the Virtual Embassy is indeed propaganda or a form of psychological warfare, although perhaps with the best of intentions.