How to tell whether crazy North Korean stories are true

It has been a week since rumors of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s death surfaced, and Americans still don’t know if he is dead or alive. Clearly, the Western media is in the dark about the intricacies of North Korea. But are North Korean, Chinese, Japanese, and South Korean media—which are often quoted as if they were monolithic or infallible—any better?

North Korea is a black box for outside observers, and the prospect of its internal instability is a global health, nuclear security, and humanitarian nightmare—especially right now. Add to that the constant fascination with the grand guignol drama of the Kim family, and it’s no surprise that last week’s Daily NK and CNN articles about Kim Jong Un’s health have garnered global attention.

But not all news is equal. At this point, North Korea’s state-sponsored media, together with Chinese, Japanese, and American media, are fueling a frenzy that South Korean Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul described as an “infodemic.” While the quantity of stories about Kim’s whereabouts may be high, their quality is low, and learning how to critically analyze them is vital for anyone trying to understand what’s happening.

Read the full article here in Foreign Policy.

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