If you were to try and build a mental picture of North Korea using details from media reports, you’d envision a country where this – Kim Il-sung Square - is the most popular place to hang out in, where all men are supposed to cut their hair like the Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un and where, if you’re accused of quote ‘counter revolutionary activity’ your sentence might be execution by hordes of hungry dogs that will eat you alive. Sounds a little extreme even by North Korean standards and that’s because it is. In the news industry - where accuracy is key and rumour is not worth printing – reports on North Korea are both inaccurate and often based on unverifiable nuggets of gossip.
Where do these stories come from? Is there any way to fact check them? If not, why do they still make the news? After reading hundreds of ‘impossible to verify’ reports about Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un’s uncle being eaten alive by starving dogs, Meenakshi Ravi decided to find out why so many news outlets run with these bizarre stories about North Korea.
And in the swirl of stories about executions that never really happened, hairstyles that never got into fashion and nuclear weapons that don’t exist, real news gets lost.
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