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A banner extolling "self-sufficiency" near the Sino-North Korean border. / Image: Kang Dong Wan, professor, Dong-A University
Daily NK snapshots are summaries of select articles from our Korean website. Snapshots are written by our staff and are aimed at putting even more of Daily NK’s original reporting into English. 

North Korean cigarettes double as beacons of state propaganda 

Professor Kim Dong Wan of Dong-A University recently published a book titled North Korean Cigarettes: Varieties of Propaganda and Brands on the increasing conflation of propaganda and marketing represented by the diversity of cigarette brands in the nominally socialist country. The thesis propounded in the book is that brands—a hallmark of a capitalist economy—serve a dual purpose for North Korean authorities: the economic purpose of marketing and the political purpose of propagandizing. Kim contends that the “propagandistic value” outweighs the “economic value” of brand equity for the Kim Jong Un regime.

Smoking is ingrained within the North Korea lifestyle to the point that cigarettes are seen as necessary goods, rather than luxury purchases or an indulgence. Kim posits that authorities—contrary to the socialist values that they espouse—must take into consideration “capitalistic” factors, e.g., the color, packaging, and branding of these goods, in order to use them as vehicles for indoctrinating political ideology.

Read the full article by Daily NK journalist Mun Dong Hui here [in Korean].

“Self-reliance” is North Korea’s reaction to the breakdown of Stockholm talks

At the beginning of this month and immediately following the breakdown of US-North Korean denuclearization negotiations in Stockholm, Sweden, North Korean authorities expressed renewed emphasis on “self-reliance” to the population through state-run media outlets. This newest bout of propaganda can be interpreted as the regime steeling itself (and its citizens) for continued sanctions and the resultant economic difficulties into the foreseeable future.

The Rodong Sinmun published an article titled “Self-Reliance and Guaranteeing Productive Output,” in which it extolled exemplar cases of domestic production, such as the Kubin Livestock Cooperative Farm and Taedong Steel Storage Battery Factory. At the same time, the state newspaper made no mention of the acrimonious dissolution of the Stockholm talks in any of its articles. Instead, it lauded the currently amicable diplomatic relations between China and North Korea, citing a congratulatory telegram recently sent by President Xi Jinping to the Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un.

Read the full article by Daily NK journalist Ha Yoon Ah here [in Korean].

North Korea’s response to Typhoon Mitag lukewarm despite immense destruction 

Typhoon Mitag, which hit the central portion of the Korean peninsula at the start of this month, tallied ten deceased and eight injured in South Korea. North Korean sources report that the flooding of private residences, which has led to caving in or even the total collapse of people’s homes, has led to additional casualties in North Korea as well.

Three family members of a discharged soldier were killed when the walls of their house collapsed in on top of them during their sleep, as a pre-existing structural issue was compounded by flooding from Typhoon Mitag. However, North Korean authorities have failed to react appropriately after the natural disaster, reportedly attributing damage to private residences as a matter of personal responsibility, not the state’s. 

Read the full article by Daily NK journalist Kim Yoo Jin here [in Korean].

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