There’s an interesting dynamic to South Korean reportage about North Korea. Basically, it goes something like this: say something incredibly outrageous yet kind of plausible done by the North Korean regime (such as executions via anti-aircraft guns rather than good old fashioned firing squads), then walk it back to possibly just “purged.”
I get that North Korea is no joke, and it’s not just an existential threat when your enemy has a huge army and a bunch of artillery based merely a few miles from your capital city.
But by this point you’d think the “scare tactics” of making such insane claims about the North and then, almost ritually, walking back said claims to something more plausible, would have reached the point of diminishing returns.
What’s going on in North Korea is horrific enough without needing to gussy it all up with obvious propaganda. It’s not like there’s any serious movement within the US to pull troops and military support out of the peninsula that hinges upon Kim Jong-un being not just evil, but ultra-super-comic-book-level Evil. And it’s not like many pro-US South Koreans need any more of a reminder that if a war breaks out, they’d be safer with the presence of 30,000 or so US troops, give or take a few aircraft carriers.
And for anti-US South Koreans, this type of thing only fuels further cynicism and disbelief in anything their own government says, even tainting purely domestic issues.
So what’s the point, asks the naive foreigner wondering why governments — all governments — tend to blatantly lie to their own people when the truth would probably be sufficient, if not better?