Jacob Lynagh

About Jacob Lynagh

Jacob Lynagh is an Adelaide-based freelance journalist who closely follows the political and social issues of the Pacific region and Middle East, as well as the rise and fall of nationalist and anti-fascist movements. He is a Grateful Dead fan, writes about classic Rock whenever possible and wishes the sixties never ended.

Korea DPR: Aussie media’s inflammatory coverage

Korea DPR’s arrival in Australia for the Asian Cup has prompted Jacob Lynagh to give a “red” flag to the Australian media for the way they “greeted” North Korea’s national football team to this prestigious international sporting event.

On Tuesday, the North Korean national football team, Korea DPR, arrived in Sydney ahead of the Asian Cup.

They were met in all corners of the Australian media with coverage so denigrating and glaringly inaccurate, it can only be described as blatant propaganda.

If Australian journalists choose to tow the government line, without questioning what they are being fed, I cannot stop them, it is only natural these days. But by using dishonesty to present the people of the DPRK as something they are not, these journalists have crossed a sacred line.

News.com.au‘s piece on the arrival of Korea DPR invited readers in with the click-bait headline: Tight-lipped North Korea sneaks into AustraliaAs if that were not bad enough, the writer refused to call Kim Jong-un anything other than “North Korea’s Dear Leader,” and even went so far as to float the farcical idea that Mr Kim may attend the Asian Cup in Australia.

Things start to get out of hand when we turn the spotlight on Fairfax. Sydney Morning Herald sports reporter Dominic Bossi penned a piece entitled North Korea shrouded in secrecy upon arrival in Sydney for the Asian Cup.

Bossi begins his piece by painting the picture of young Jayden Cook, a 10-year-old fan who wanted to meet players from Korea DPR but “quickly learnt these footballers seemed to have less freedom than he did, as the players were quickly ushered away by stern team officials less than a minute later.”

That particular tale may have had more impact, if it were not printed mere centimetres under a photo of the very same Jayden Cook with the Korea DPR team.

The “officials wearing suits decorated with badges of their flag, workers’ party and, of course, “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-un who “tightly guarded the players for their brief public appearance” somehow do not show up in any of the three, intimately close, photographs that Mr Bossi’s photographer captured.

Bossi goes on to say that “all players wore team uniforms without names, squad numbers, sponsors or logos. Every player wore the same model of green and black sport shoes.”

But in reality, this was far from true. The DPRK players arrived wearing Adidas warm-up gear and Legea shoes, logos and all. They eventually took to the field in their training gear, emblazoned with player names and squad numbers, contrary to what Bossi writes. He makes no mention of the Adidas gear coach Jo Tong-sop was provided for training, or the Mizuno, Adidas, Legea and other brand name football boots the players trained in.

Korea DPR, which currently has key sponsors in Legea and Koryolink, has previously been sponsored by companies such as Fila and Adidas.

The image presented of Korea DPR by Mr Bossi is one of a sheepish, persecuted and silenced people. He neglects to mention that as many as four Korea DPR players are Japanese born and based, such as Ryang Yong-gi, a J League captain who lives full time in Osaka, as a citizen of Japan. These are young men who play for the team by choice, and have every freedom afforded to them by the Japanese government, to speak up if they so choose.

These are freedoms slowly being disintegrated by legislation such as the state secrets law, but of course that has nothing to do with soccer, so you rightly will not see it mentioned in any articles relating to the Japanese team.

He also fails to acknowledge the two Korea DPR players who are based out of Switzerland.

Toward the end of the article, Bossi insinuates that DPRK citizens will be told by their Ministry of Information, regardless of the tournament’s outcome, that Korea DPR will have won all of their games.

It is an appalling statement with no historical or factual foundation, that in fact contradicts the history of DPRK state media reporting on their national team. It is just another case of Western journalists commenting on the perceived oddities of DPRK state media, much of which is inevitably proven false.

Bossi then jumps the shark completely, saying that “as far as the North Korean public knows, this team arrived in Australia as the reigning world champions after beating Portugal in the final of the 2014 World Cup.”

This highly inflammatory comment seems to have been derived from a video posted on YouTube last year, which purportedly showed North Korean citizens being told that their team were World Cup champions.

This video was quickly proven a hoax, as the audio did not match up to the images presented, and the Korean dialect was incorrect.

You would think the fact that North Koreans were able to watch broadcasts of all World Cup matches would have been enough to put that lie to bed for good, but apparently facts are of little importance. Although admittedly I do not quite blame Mr Bossi for this inaccuracy; after dozens of international media outlets reported on the video as fact, without verifying its contents, the only important websites that dared to report that it as false, were The Daily Edge Ireland, and Buzzfeed.

That is just how journalists operate when it comes to nations like the DPRK. Why bother with a retraction of clear mistakes, when you can keep it in everyone’s mind that North Korean media is a zany mouthpiece telling outrageous fairy tales?

If we can make people believe that Kim Jong-un ordered all male students to mimic his hairstyle, that the North Korean government believed they had discovered a unicorn lair, or that Kim Jong-un’s uncle was fed to hungry dogs – all of which were proven false just days after they were reported – then we will.

The facts are unimportant, don’t you see? The false image these stories paint of the West’s number one enemy in Asia are the only things that matter; it is the substance journalists feed on, sustained public fear of the unknown.

I may be the only one who finds it utterly ludicrous that when mocking false allegations of DPRK media dishonesty to benefit the state, Australian journalists madly write page after page of blathering nonsense about the impoverished nation, an effort that could benefit nobody else but our very own dear leaders in Canberra and Washington.

The West has no need for state propaganda anymore, we writers are more than willing to go full “Goebbels” whenever our government whispers that they may hold a position on any given topic.

This type of reporting is nothing more than celebrity tabloid gossip, masquerading as biting political commentary, masquerading as sports reporting.


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