In 2005, the government invited a handful of foreign journalists to cover the national team's qualifying matches for the 2006 World Football Cup. But the North Koreans still live under the yoke of propaganda devoted entirely to the personality cult of Kim Jong-il and national socialism.

Kim Jong-il features on the cover of a manual for journalism students as "the great journalism professor". It says that "the Dear Leader is always at the side of journalists and teaches them in detail how to resolve their problems. The Dear Leader encourages them to write excellent articles that win the approval of the masses."

The entire North Korean press, particularly the Rodong Shinmun (The Worker's Newspaper), the Korean Central News Agency, national television JoongAng Bang Song, is under the direct control of Kim Jong-il. Each journalist is indoctrinated so as to be able to render, without mistakes, the grandeur of the late president Kim Il-sung and of his son Kim Jong-il. The press is also responsible for demonstrating the superiority of North Korean socialism over bourgeois and imperialist corruption. A typing error can be very expensive: dozens of North Korean journalists are sent to "revolutionary" camps for a simple spelling mistake. Elsewhere, Song Keum-chul, of state television was put in a concentration camp at the end of 1995, for having set up a small group of critical journalists. Nothing has been heard of him since.

The official news agency announced in November 2005 that the US network CNN had "dug its own grave" after broadcasting a report on human rights in North Korea, which showed a public execution. The authorities in Pyongyang threatened to ban the Atlanta-based network access to the country. On the other hand, in May a team from the American network ABC was given permission to film a report on economic reform.

Media headed by North Korean exiles have set up in South Korea. The online daily and the radio Freedom NK do their best to provide news to their compatriots, despite the extremely limited spread of the Internet and scrambling of the airwaves.

Despite police campaigns to check radios (every radio, once sealed up, can only be tuned to official radio frequencies) a growing number of radios do enter by the Chinese border, allowing some people to listen to broadcasts from South Korean radio or to Radio Free Asia.


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