Every four years, the Olympic Games are an opportunity for countries to come together and for the world’s greatest athletes to compete on a global stage. This sense of comradery is vital, especially between countries who have strenuous relationships with one another at best, while also serving as a tightrope the media must learn to walk most carefully.
The media “circus” as they have often been called are once again making clowns of themselves during the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang County, South Korea.
As the world watched North and South Korea, two nations in nuclear tension, walk as one during the Opening Ceremonies Feb. 9, the press seemingly disregarded the starvation, torture and murder taking place in North Korea, as they instead chose to shine the spotlight on Kim Yo Jong, the younger sister of dictator Kim Jong Un and the North Korean cheerleading squad.
In what Fox News described as a “memorialization” of the dictator’s presence at the Olympics this year, Twitter headings from western news outlets boasted of the totalitarian nation Feb. 10, with headlines such as: “Kim Jon Un’s sister is stealing the show at the winter Olympics,” “The ‘Ivanka Trump of North Korea’ captivates people in the South at the Olympics,” “North Korea’s cheerleaders steal spotlights at Winter Games with synchronized chants” and “North Korea is winning the Olympics — and it’s not because of sports.”
While, as Fox News reporter Jeremy Hunt said Feb. 11, these headlines are “ones you would normally expect to find in North Korea’s state-run media,” painting Kim Yo Jong and her country’s tyrannical practices in such a favorable light “normalizes a brutal dictatorship that has earned the contempt of the international community.” As Hunt is quick to remind us, western news outlets are simply fanning North Korea’s fire, as they will “no doubt use American news coverage as propaganda to fuel their oppressive government.”
Keeping in this practice, the western media also fawned over the “army of beauties,” as the 230-person North Korean cheer squad has become known, when NBC posted a video of their routine with the caption, “this is so satisfying to watch.” Within hours, videos of their routine were trending on Twitter.
“With all of Kim Jong Un’s unspeakable atrocities, doesn’t the world community owe it to the suffering people of North Korea to be alarmed instead of ‘mesmerized’?” Hunt said. “Shouldn’t we be heartbroken instead of entertained? The more that we’re charmed by their routine, the more we play into the hand of their oppressive government.”
This year, the two Koreas have agreed to come together for events such as hockey and the opening ceremony, according to the Washington Post. While this may have temporarily thawed the nuclear standoff between the nations, many believe “North Korea probably wants to use its Olympic overture to drive a wedge between Seoul and Washington and weaken international sanctions against it.”
The Washington Post, the same source reporting this claim, however, was also quick to say “North Korea is again stealing the show in pre-Olympic media coverage, although none of its 22 athletes are expected to win a medal at the Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.” They also reported a giant North Korea flag is “draped across three floors” in the North Korean athletes’ apartment building, despite the fact that “the hoisting of North Korean flags is normally banned in South Korea under its tough anti-North security law.”
As athletes continue to compete for a coveted gold medal and the footage continues to roll in from South Korea, it is important for western media outlets to remember just who they are “bewitched by,” and let this obvious PR campaign by North Korea conclude. This is a country working to develop nuclear missiles capable of reaching our mainland, and who torture and massacre their own people, not a country of people we should respect or advocate for in our free press society.