North Korea’s ruler, Kim Jong Un, owes the free press a “thank you” for the way it covered his Winter Olympics delegation this weekend. The pot-bellied despot could not have hoped for better reviews.
Kim dispatched his sister, Kim Yo Jong, and a handful of athletes and cheerleaders to Pyeongchang, South Korea, to represent his infamously repressive and murderous regime. The mere fact that some North Koreans were allowed to travel aboard was apparently enough for newsrooms to characterize the Hermit Kingdom’s rare incursion into world affairs as a successful “charm offensive.”
Quick note to newsrooms: “Charm offensives” only work if you’re charmed. A nation of gulags is many things. Charming is not one of them.
Several reporters focused on the North Korean cheer squad, the so-called “army of beauties,” offering up fawning praise for the gang of perfectly synchronized, similarly aged young women dressed in matching red uniforms.
“Kim Jong Un’s sister is stealing the show at the Winter Olympics,” read one CNN headline. The Wall Street Journal tweeted a report bearing the title, “The North Korean cheer squad’s presence was impossible for even the skaters to ignore.” NBC Olympics gushed over the cheer squad, saying in a since-deleted tweet that included video, “This is so satisfying to watch.”
Fox News published a report on Feb. 9 titled, "Kim Jong Un's sister steals show at Olympic ceremony."
“North Korea’s 200-plus cheerleaders steal spotlight at 2018 Winter Olympics, with matching outfits, synchronized chants,” said an ABC News headline. Other reporters focused on Kim Yo Jong herself, pushing a narrative alleging she is some sort of savvy diplomat.
“North Korea judged winner of diplomatic gold at Olympics,” read a Reuters headline.
The New York Times went with this, “Kim Jong Un’s sister turns on the charm, taking Pence’s spotlight.”
“When...Kim Jong Un, decided to send a large delegation to the Winter Olympics in South Korea this month, the world feared he might steal the show,” the Times article reads. “If that was indeed his intention, he could not have chosen a better emissary than the one he sent: his only sister, Kim Yo Jong, whom news outlets in the South instantly called ‘North Korea’s Ivanka.’”
Declaring Kim’s sister a diplomatic “winner” is remarkable considering she didn’t say a single public word during her visit. To say she “won” because she showed up, signed a guestbook, had dinner with South Korea’s president and smiled a lot, suggests there was never a scenario in which these groups would’ve declared Pence the “winner.”
Then there’s whatever the hell this is from the Washington Post: “They marveled at her barely-there makeup and her lack of bling. They commented on her plain black outfits and simple purse. They noted the flower-shaped clip that kept her hair back in a no-nonsense style. Here she was, a political princess, but the North Korean ‘first sister’ had none of the hallmarks of power and wealth that Koreans south of the divide have come to expect.”
It added “In looks-obsessed South Korea, many 20-something women list plastic surgery and brand-name bags as life goals. Most of all, Kim Yo Jong was an enigma. Just like them, but nothing like them. A woman with a sphinxlike smile who gave nothing away during her three-day Olympic-related visit to South Korea as brother Kim Jong Un’s special envoy.”
Interestingly enough, between the Post and the Times, the only person quoted on the record as making the idiotic Ivanka Trump comparison is a CIA analyst.
The Post write-up added, “Flashing a sphinx-like smile and without ever speaking in public, Ms. Kim managed to outflank Mr. Trump’s envoy to the Olympics, Vice President Mike Pence, in the game of diplomatic image-making.”
It took wider media less than a week to go from fretting about President Trump’s proposed military parade to writing gushing reviews for North Korea’s supposed “charm offensive.”
Never mind that Kim’s family is comprised entirely of deranged lunatics. Never mind that North Korea is a country-sized concentration camp. Never mind that its Olympic cheer squad is comprised of actual hostages, whose failure to show sufficient enthusiasm would likely result in physical harm (or worse) for them and their families back home.
Kim Yo Jong may be a major player in a genocidal regime, but look at her sphinx-like smile! Those cheerleaders may be slaves, but look at them dance!
This article has been updated to include Fox News' coverage of the ceremonies.