Study Guide

Pyongyang Manipulation

By Guy Delisle


Kim Jong-Il might have been the de facto “king” of North Korea when Guy Delisle was there in 2003, but the truth is that propaganda is the Supreme Leader.

In Pyongyang, the situation in North Korea is a real chicken-or-the-egg scenario. Is the propaganda there so effective because the people will swallow anything without question? Or are the people timid sheep who will follow anyone off a cliff because the propaganda is so effective?

Guy doesn’t give us any answers, but his interactions with North Koreans show that the situation is totally complex. It’s hard to figure out what’s going on when everything you do and think is being manipulated in some way.

Questions About Manipulation

  1. How does North Korea manipulate its people?
  2. How is North Korean propaganda similar to U.S. propaganda? How is it different?
  3. Does Guy manipulate his translator and guide? Do they manipulate him?
  4. Why don’t the people question the government’s manipulation? Or do they question it?

Chew on This

North Korea’s propaganda tactics are good, but they’re made even better by the fact that their people don’t question anything.

Propaganda is either all or nothing. We’ll give North Korea credit for that: they don’t go halfway with their propaganda.