I have been intrigued for a while by another difference between corporate ‘news’ services (euphemistically called the ‘free press’) and sources from places like China or the DPRK (often dismissed as ‘state-run’). Apart from obvious ideological differences, what intrigues me is what counts as news in the different sources.

For example, the intense focus on the symptom-of-US-decline, Donald Trump, and his tweets simply does not appear in Chinese or DPRK news. Instead, they prefer to focus on substance, policy and concrete acts.

More recently, these news services have been allocating significant attention to one of the most important developments of early 2018: the rapidly improving relations between the two parts of Korea. For example, after the talks, the first delegation from the DPRK arrived in the south. It comprised seven people, moving from Seoul to Gangneung to engage in talks and inspect arts and music centres for a series of north-south cultural exchanges. Soon afterwards, a return visit from the south took place. All duly reported in places like Xinhua News, the Global Times and KCNA.

By contrast, if you cast an eye over efforts to report this development in corporate media sources, you get headlines like “Executed” North Korean pop diva takes Olympic spotlight‘, with most of them mentioning a ‘North Korean pop star‘ or ‘spice girl‘, ‘hand-picked‘ for an ‘all-girl group‘ by Kim Jong Un. It is, opines one, nothing less than Kim Jong Un’s ‘answer to K-pop‘. And these are supposedly the more sedate ‘news’ sources.

Not a bad way to trivialise an important moment.

Meanwhile, Chinees sources indicate support for the Koreans sorting this one out by themselves and DPRK sources point out that United States actually does not want reunification to take place, doing its best to disrupt the process.