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The Year of the Snake has one more moon to go, then we’ll finally be into the Year of the Horse.  One particular snake didn’t quite make it to the end of the year, and Lunghu feels as though he himself has been strengthened one-hundredfold following the long-overdue purge of anti-revolutionary factionalist filth that for far too long oppressed the peace-loving peoples of his personal peninsula.  Yep, it’s that time of year … time for the annual New Year’s message from Luminous Leader Comrade Kim Jong-eun!

Lunghu’s review and analysis of this year’s DPRK media coverage will compare and contrast the  Wednesday news reports published by Agence France Presse, Associated Press, Bloomberg News, Reuters, and Yonhap News Agency. The format is simple and data-driven:

  • a proportional breakdown of paragraphs in each article devoted to: the message itself; context/background; official reaction, and explanatory analysis.
  • extra bonus this year:  number of paragraphs mentioning “human scum” Jang Song-thaek (by name).
  • a proportional breakdown of paragraphs in each article devoted to each of four themes: the DPRK regime/purge; inter-Korean relations; militarist posturing/tensions, and the DPRK economy.
  • the sequential semantic structure of each article, using a character code to designate the paragraph type.
  • the name(s) of any analyst(s) quoted, and their organizational affiliation(s).
  • noteworthy verbiage contained in the article (if any).

House_of_Cult_20131230

Agence France Presse

headline:  North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un Hails Execution of Uncle

27 total paragraphs

  • 4% summary (lead) paragraph [S]
  • 45% paragraphs quoting/paraphrasing the DPRK message [M]
  • 33% context/background paragraphs [B]
  • 11% paragraphs of explanatory analysis [A]
  • 7% paragraphs of official reaction [R]
  •      6 paragraphs mentioning Jang Song-thaek [J]

thematic distribution:

  • 37% DPRK regime/purge
  • 15% inter-Korean relations
  • 33% militarist tensions
  • 7% DPRK economy

the semantic structure:

S-M-B/J-M-M-M-
B-A-A/J-B/J-A/J-
M-M-M-M-M-M-

Analyst(s) quoted:

Yang Moo-Jin, a professor at Seoul’s University of North Korean Studies

Key verbiage:

A DPRK statement [earlier in December] denounced [Jang Song-thaek] as “human scum” and a drug-addicted womanizer who pocketed state money to support his decadent lifestyle.

Analysts said Jang’s… intervention in the lucrative coal trade was resented by Kim Jong-eun.

 

Associated Press

headline:  N Korea Claims Strength After Removal of “Filth”

16 total paragraphs:

  • 6% summary (lead) paragraph [S]
  • 25% paragraphs quoting/paraphrasing the DPRK message [M]
  • 50% context/background paragraphs [B]
  • 19% paragraphs of explanatory analysis [A]
  • 0 paragraphs of official reaction [R]
  •      4 paragraphs mentioning Jang Song-thaek [J]

thematic distribution:

  • 38% DPRK regime/purge
  • 25% inter-Korean relations
  • 25% militarist tensions
  • 3% DPRK economy

the semantic structure:

S-M-B-M/J-B-
B/J-B/J-B/J-B-B-
A-A-A-
M-B

Analyst(s) quoted:

Lim Eul Chul, a North Korea expert at South Korea’s Kyungnam University

Robert Carlin, a North Korea expert and contributor to the 38 North website

Key verbiage:

Jang’s public downfall was seen as an acknowledgment of dissension and loss of control by the ruling Kim dynasty.

Many [observers] believe that the purge shows Kim Jong Un struggling to establish the same absolute power that his father and grandfather enjoyed.

 

Bloomberg News

headline:  Kim Jong Un Says North Korea More United After Purge of Uncle

8 total paragraphs:

  • 12% summary (lead) paragraph [S]
  • 50% paragraphs quoting/paraphrasing the DPRK message [M]
  • 38% context/background paragraphs [B]
  • 0 paragraphs of explanatory analysis [A]
  • 0 paragraphs of official reaction [R]
  •      5 paragraphs mentioning Jang Song-thaek [J]

thematic distribution:

  • 62% DPRK regime/purge
  • 12% inter-Korean relations
  • 38% militarist tensions
  • 12% DPRK economy

the semantic structure:

S/J-M/J-B/J-B/J-
M-B-M-M

Analyst(s) quoted: none

Key verbiage:

Kim also called for increased investment in agriculture to put more ‘meat, vegetables and mushrooms’ on the tables of North Koreans, and said more effort is needed to prevent deforestation.”

 

Reuters

headline:  North Korean Leader Says Purge Was a Cleansing of ‘Filth’

17 total paragraphs:

  • 6% summary (lead) paragraph [S]
  • 47% paragraphs quoting/paraphrasing the DPRK message [M]
  • 29% context/background paragraphs [B]
  • 18% paragraphs of explanatory analysis [A]
  • 0 paragraphs of official reaction [R]
  •      3 paragraphs mentioning Jang Song-thaek [J]

thematic distribution:

  • 29% DPRK regime/purge
  • 35% inter-Korean relations
  • 12% militarist tensions
  • 24% DPRK economy

the semantic structure:

S/J-M-M/J-M-M-
B/J-B-M-M-B-
A-A-A-
B-B-M-M

Analyst(s) quoted:

Robert Carlin, a contributor to 38 North, a project of John Hopkins University’s U.S. – Korea Institute

Key verbiage:

“‘Construction is an important frontline to set foundations for the strong nation and people’s happiness,’ [Kim] said. ” (The Reuters story devoted four paragraphs to mention of DPRK construction projects funded by China.)

 

Yonhap News Agency

headline:  N. Korea Extends Olive Branch to S. Korea

29 total paragraphs:

  • 3% summary (lead) paragraph [S]
  • 31% paragraphs quoting/paraphrasing the DPRK message [M]
  • 55% context/background paragraphs [B]
  • 3% paragraphs of explanatory analysis [A]
  • 7% paragraphs of official reaction [R]
  •      5 paragraphs mentioning Jang Song-thaek [J]

thematic distribution:

  • 38% DPRK regime/purge
  • 21% inter-Korean relations
  • 34% militarist tensions
  • 14% DPRK economy

the semantic structure:

S-M-M-B/J-B/J-M/J-B/J-
B-R-R-A-
B-B-B-B-
M-M-B-M-B-B-M-M-B-
M-B-B-B-B

Analyst(s) quoted:

Cheong Seong-chang, a senior research fellow at the Sejong Institute

Key verbiage:

[Kim’s] speech was frequently punctuated by monotonous and ritualistic hand-clappings.”  (Here in the United States, we call that ‘applause’ – perfunctory applause.)

Kim also called for efforts to boost agricultural output.

 

Lunghu’s Perfunctory Analysis

DPRK_Themes

 

1]  Reuters provided the most balanced blend of the story’s four themes: less purge, more economy and inter-Korean relations. (See graphic above.)  Ignoring its business news heritage, Bloomberg focused a very thin story on the Jang purge and the bellicose bluster of both North and South.

2]  Journalists love a bloody Communist purge.  None of these capitalist propaganda organs devoted much less than one-third of their articles to the topic.  Reuters showed the most restraint (29%), Bloomberg the least (62%).  Most of the articles repeated the bourgeois imperialist line that Jang Song-thaek’s downfall revealed the instability of the Kim regime:

  • “The high-profile purge of Jang …  sparked concerns over potential instability.”
  • “The purge of Jang prompted South Korea to heighten combat readiness along the border with the North [amid] worries of a provocation.”
  • “Kim may have chosen to remove the only man who may have posed any real threat to him.”
  • “Jang’s public downfall was seen as an acknowledgment of dissension and loss of control by the ruling Kim dynasty. Many [observers] believe that the purge shows Kim Jong Un struggling to establish the same absolute power that his father and grandfather enjoyed.”
  • “Analysts said Jang’s growing political power and intervention in the lucrative coal trade was resented by [Kim].”

Wrong, wrong, wrong.  Anyone who watches Korean historical dramas can tell you that palace purges of the in-laws have been around for centuries, can be triggered by the most obscure of family feuds, and when you get right down to it, are just part of the territory when you’re supreme ruler of the land.  Here’s Lunghu’s take:  Jang Song-thaek was blatantly cheating on his wife, Kim Jong-eun’s aunt – sister of the recently departed Dear Leader.  One mistress or two would not have been a big deal, so probably a whole host of concubines was involved.  Orgies, even.  “A drug-addicted womanizer who pocketed state money to support his decadent lifestyle.” This constituted an egregious loss of kibun for the Kim clan, and could not be tolerated.   Kim Jong-eun is himself a recently married guy, and the gossip was offensive to his wife as well.  In the words of Bobby Manna, “Jang’s gotta go.”

3]  It’s pretty clear that Kim Jong-eun wasn’t just watching NBA on satellite TV at that Swiss boarding school back in the day:  he was also reading Machiavelli’s ‘The Prince’.  The purge of Jang Song-thaek is just as much a textbook play as the pick and roll or the low post screen.

4]  Despite all its other shortcomings in reporting the DPRK New Year’s Message story, Bloomberg provided real value-for-money in its final paragraph, where it provided a surprising hint that Kim Jong-eun may have a hidden tree-hugger eco-freak concealed within his pudgy body:  even while thinking about lunch, he’s worried about Mother Nature.

Kim called for increased investment in agriculture to put more ‘meat, vegetables and mushrooms’ on the tables of North Koreans, and said more effort is needed to prevent deforestation.

That’s all for now  — time for Lunghu to establish stringent revolutionary discipline and order in all domains of the revolutionary struggle.  Be seein’ ya!

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