North Korean state TV gets another makeover
Korean Central Television(SEOUL, South Korea) — Korean Central Television, North Korea’s state-owned broadcaster, continues to experiment with modern storytelling devices such as 3D graphics, time-lapse videos and aerial shots from helicams — camera-equipped drones.
The network’s regular 12-minute 8 p.m. newscast on Thursday began with the day’s top stories, including Kim Jong Un’s “glorious” visit to a dental hospital, read by a male anchor in the rigid, loud style that’s become North Korea’s trademark.
But then a female anchor, clad in a beige, western-style suit, appears in front of a glass window, overlooking a high-tech control room, followed by 3D graphics emphasizing Kim’s push toward “modernization, nationalization, quality improvement” as she reads that factories in Pyongyang are striving to meet their national new year’s goal.
That KCTV package also featured aerial shots of a silk blanket factory and a cosmetics factory — both inside and outside the facilities — as additional graphics showed data points of the “historic” improvements.
“Only 50 products of 30 kinds were produced before modernizing factory facilities, but after the update and product development the factory has advanced to produce over 300 products of 110 varieties,” the anchor read in great pride, as the piece transitioned into a time-lapse of a bustling department store that highlighted the popularity of national cosmetics brands.
“Korean Central Television must be pressured to develop and use new media technology to satisfy the demand for scientific and technological upgrade all across the North Korean society,” said Philo Kim, a professor at the Institute for Peace and Unification Studies in Seoul. “Not only the broadcasting system, but also other parts of the society, such as schools and factories, are facing a demand for technological reform.”
North Korea launched the high-tech studio, equipped with a digital control room, advanced lighting system and a teleprompter, in September. In a recent cultural program, a jubilant anchor introduced ways to stay healthy by proudly grabbing an apple from a virtual moving screen.
But KCTV’s most noticeable change, however subtle, is that more stories focus on people instead of ideology. Previously, most programs focused on achievements by great leaders or communist loyalties.
“North Korean television is changing to keeping up with the global trend,” Kang Dong Wan, a North Korea culture expert who teaches at Dong-A University in South Korea, told ABC News. “But the key theme in North Korean TV is to keep their national identity while following a new trend.”
Those trends have included features of women in cosmetics factories, students showing off new mobile phones and the staff at a pizza restaurant.
The folks interviewed still expressed breathless gratitude for Kim and his direction of their nation — but now, at least, such messages appear to be coming from ordinary citizens.
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