The Internet’s impact on newspaper readership has reached the Hermit Kingdom—almost.
The People’s Korea, one of the few pro-North Korean newspapers in the world, announced on the front page of its April 29 edition recently delivered to subscribers that the edition will be its last in paper form. It blamed financial problems of its publisher and the “alarmingly rapid spread of the Internet all over the world” for the decision.
The newspaper is published in Tokyo by Choson Sinbo, a publishing house with close links to the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, and is aimed at English-speaking readers around the world. It was first published in 1961, and its website launched in 1997.
The articles, which are never critical unless written about North Korea’s foes, are typically a mixture of strongly worded editorials, reports of various festivals in the country, updates on government meetings, and details of any overseas events that hint toward an admiration of North Korea or its leader, Kim Jong Il.
The People’s Korea
The headline story on the final edition was representative of the newspaper’s usual coverage: “DPRK Celebrates Day of Sun.” It refers to the April 14 anniversary of the birth of President Kim Il Sung and the country’s official Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) name. Kim, around whom an entire personality cult is anchored, remains president of the country even though he died in 1994.
The online edition of the newspaper has been updated monthly since the final run of the print edition, but it will likely be updated more regularly in the future, said Choe Kwan Ik, managing editor of Choson Sinbo. The staff will be able to take advantage of the immediacy of Web publishing and provide more frequent updates, he said. Check out The People’s Korea website.
The newspaper’s website isn’t aimed at people in North Korea. Internet access is highly regulated in the country, but it doesn’t really matter since ordinary citizens cannot afford home computers.