North Korean government seeks to rewrite history
Following the execution of a top ranking government official, North Korean is looking to eliminate any record of his existence.
Censorship can be understood as the practice of examining various forms of content, and removing parts that, for one reason or another, are deemed unacceptable. This practice is done for a variety of reasons. For instance, some movies are censored when shown on television or in the school classroom, because the content of the film may not be appropriate for the age group that is watching the movie.
The decision to allow or disallow content to be seen can come from a number of different parties.In the instance of a school, it may be the teacher, however, similar action can go all the way up to top ranking officials in government. It is when the censors seat of power reaches higher levels that the issue of censorship becomes particularly problematic.
The North Korean news omissions
North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un has been the subject of much criticism since taking power in April 2012. One of his more recent actions was the execution of his uncle, Jang Song-thaek. Jang was detained in December of last year and sentenced to death four days later.
His arrest was televised throughout the country, however, any mention of Jang has since been removed from all of the North Korean media outlets, according to the Index on Censorship. However, the government did not stop here. The news source noted that there are no articles in the Korean Central News Agency's archive dated before October 2013.
According to The Guardian, this is the largest mass removal of articles in the government's history, however, this practice has been in place for quite sometime. In the past, 20 to 30 articles may have been removed but never at the scale of months worth of stories.
The omissions were noted by multiple North Korean watchdog websites. The Index on Censorship reported that one such person was Frank Feinstein the director of KCNA Watch. One of the surprising elements of this censorship was the fact that it was done in online, making it public to the entire world.
"This is North Korea censoring itself to the world – not just to its own citizens," he said, according to the Index on Censorship. "Personally, I can't believe they could think they'd get away with this sort of revisionism."
What is the end game?
There are a number of theories as to why the country decided to undergo these kinds of practices.The Index on Censorship contended that it may be more concerned about its own citizens accessing these archives rather than the world at large. This would explain similar actions taken by the North Korean government.
The news source noted that North Koreans are more likely to get their news from the radio, television or print journalism. This would explain the fact that a documentary that was first shown in October 2013 that showed Jang was recently shown again in December without his presence.
However, according to the Guardian, this is a practice that has been on going for quite some time. The news source looked to Andrei Lankov, an expert on North Korea, about the practice. Lankov wrote a book that when he lived in the country during the 1980s the ruling powers would often look to "isolate the populace" from prior publications of the from the government news organization.
These kinds of practices are working to create a practice of rewriting history in North Korea. If this continues, the citizens of North Korea could be deprived of their history and knowledge of their government's actions.