New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof is in North Korea this week, and the brutal, murderous regime must be thrilled.
In the few days that he has spent in Pyongyang, Kristof has helped spread disinformation about the country's martial spirit. He has also helped put a positive, lighthearted spin on daily life in the country sized concentration camp.
Pretty impressive for a guy with limited Internet access.
On Friday, for example, Kristof posted a photo of North Korean students to his Instagram account with the accompanying caption, "Every kid at this North Korea high school supposedly signed up to join the army after the Trump speech to the UN."
"They said they'll keep studying until war breaks out, which some say could happen any time. It's all part of a mass ideological mobilization – yet here the kids are still practicing their singing. At a factory, the manager likewise told me that all 1500 employees had signed up for the army on Monday, yet they were still at work," he added.
This is 100 percent propaganda.
The claim that North Korea's citizens have signed up for military duty en masse, their chests swelling with national pride, is a lie straight from the highest levels North Korea's government. Yet, here is Kristof repeating it verbatim on social media to an audience of 35,000-plus followers. Surely, as a well-travelled columnist for the U.S.' most famous newspaper, Kristof is aware that military service in North Korea is mandatory. Surely, he sees through this "every kid" nonsense.
It doesn't end there with the Times' man in Pyongyang.
Kristof also visited an amusement park this week. He snapped a photo of the park's entrance, and captioned it thusly: "Aside from politics, North Korea has developed some outlets for citizens to have fun – a water park, a dolphin show, and this amusement park. It gets about 4500 people a day for its rides and roller coasters."
He followed that up with a separate picture of an amusement park ride. That picture came with the following caption: "North Koreans like to have fun, too. People were shouting happily on this ride on an amusement park. It's a side of the country that doesn't always come through."
Ah, yes. The lighter side to tyranny. Surely, as a well-read pundit, Kristof is aware that cruel tyrants often try to improve how they're perceived by the rest of the world by using foreign journalists as public relations mouthpieces.
Also, speaking of cruel, Kristoff also posted this:
"Lunch in Pyongyang, North Korea, at a pizza restaurant with live music," read the picture's caption.
Man alive. What do you suppose it's like, being the kind of guy who posts pictures of his pizza in a country where the people are literally starving to death?
Anyway, we don't want to assume the absolute worst of Kristof, so we'll consider the possibility that he's producing this fluff for North Korea because he has chosen to tread lightly in the country that just murdered a U.S. student. The Times columnist suggested as much on Twitter when he wrote, "I have a longstanding policy that as long as I'm in a place like North Korea, I think of my family before I tweet."
Still, if covering North Korea means also having to help it spread its garbage around, then what's the point?
We contacted Kristof for comment, but he's "off the grid" until he returns on Oct. 1. Hopefully, when he rejoins the rest of the civilized world, he'll tell the truth about the Hermit Kingdom and spare us the agitprop.