North Korea Uses Social Media in Attempts to Brainwash the Globe

Vasin Lee /
Vasin Lee /

With the push of social media to influence and guide people across the globe, it was only a matter of time before hermit and historically oppressive countries like North Korea started using these platforms in an attempt to conduct global brainwashing over their policies. Instead of perpetuating the truth about the way North Koreans live their lives, they present only the best aspects of their life, aspects available only to the 1% of the 1% of the country.

A woman calling herself YuMi is one of those faces.

Shown rummaging through a fully stocked freezer, she showcases the delectable treats she has available to her. “This is milk flavor – the picture is so cute,” she exclaims in perfect English. “And this is peach flavor.” Upon selecting a flavor, she informs the viewer “the biscuit is very delicious.” This four-minute video has 41k views and is one of the very few accounts from the country.

While the video makes it seem like the country is one of peace and incredible success, it is more like a throwback to the late 1990-early 2000s MTV Cribs TV shows. What these videos show isn’t the reality for North Koreans. It is instead the pretty and high-class views of North Korea, a far cry from the realities that the overwhelming majority of North Koreans face. While this kind of deception is commonplace on social media these days, the incredible lengths they go to in order to get this content is mind-blowing.

Ha Seung-hee, a research professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University has been studying YuMi and others like her. “Connecting with the outside world is an impossible thing for a resident,” and this makes their channels all the more unique but unsettling for those who have escaped North Korea or those with just a basic understanding of the nation.

Song A is another of these YouTube stars from North Korea. The 11-year-old has racked up 20,000 subscribers since April of 2022. With a strong British accent, she tells the world “My favorite book is ‘Harry Potter’ written by J. K. Rowling,” as she holds up a copy of the first book for her audience to see. Given the strong laws about Western influence inside the hermit kingdom, her possession of the book alone is a strong sign of just how influential her family is.

These young ladies live a “special life” in North Korea. Reserved for the elite of the elite, these people are much like the liberal dream here in America; well-fed, well taken care of, and all from the government. Unfortunately, these small exceptions are not the rule or even close to it. Visits to amusement parks, water parks, as well as museums, and caves, are not realities for most North Koreans.

As many experts warn, these videos are not usual for most North Koreans, and they caution people from inferring that the country is much better off than many want us to believe. Instead, the facilities and the features these videos are featuring are limited-use attractions that open up when they are filming or trying to make the country look much more glamorous than it is. With only 26% of the population having any real access to electricity, there just isn’t enough of it to reliably run a rollercoaster or water slide.

These videos aren’t put out just to gain international sympathy or even acceptance. Instead, their supreme leader Kim Jong-un has set his sights on the idea of getting tourism going again in the future. While they are still closed off to outsiders, they want to open for business and get people interested in visiting their “normal city” of Pyongyang as soon as it is safe to do so.

While the laughable images of Kim on white horses and missile attacks fall short of gaining the respect of the US, the leadership is very worried about the image their country projects for the outside world. They believe that by getting people interested in the nation and shuttling people on choreographed tours, they can get people talking about and respecting North Korea.