AP Word Cloud Deciphers N. Korea's Propaganda

Pyongyang's news arm is quite enamored of Kim Jong Un, 'nuclear,' and 'war'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 4, 2017 10:00 AM CST
AP Word Cloud Deciphers N. Korea's Propaganda
In this image made on Dec. 4, 2017, showing a word cloud distilled from more than 1,500 stories from North Korea's KCNA, the word "nuclear" is shown alongside words that appear near it most. The word cloud reveals some of the key patterns Pyongyang employs in its rhetorical wars with Washington.   (AP Photo/Penny Yi Wang)

Kim. Nuclear. War. Nothing sums up the message embedded in North Korea's propaganda better than those three words. That's exactly what the world hears—and what's revealed in this word cloud, a visual display of terms used by the KCNA. The AP boiled down 1,542 stories filed between July 1 and Oct. 11 by the official North Korean news agency to a list of the 183 words that appear most frequently. The resulting word cloud reveals some of the key patterns Pyongyang employs in its rhetorical wars with Washington:

  • "Kim" and "nuclear": The first takeaway (no surprise) is that North Korean propagandists spend nearly all of their time hailing be-all-end-all leader Kim Jong Un. His surname appears in KCNA reports 2,793 times, way more than "nuclear" at 1,671, underscoring the North's inescapable cult of personality.

  • "War," the third-most common word, is used not just when talking of a looming conflict with the United States but in connection with the historical one—the 1950-53 Korean War, which North Korean propaganda uses as the prime example of American imperialism and barbarism.
  • Other major players: "Party" and "military" are among the top-tier nouns. "Sanctions"—a major target of Pyongyang's ire—hovers in the top 10 as well. Stories about bouquets offered at monuments to the leaders are a staple on KCNA, explaining the fairly strong showing of "floral," and allies of the US are customarily written off as "puppets," another robust performer.
  • ICBM—short for "intercontinental ballistic missile"—made 475 appearances. "Hwasong," the name North Korea attaches to most of its long-range missiles, appeared 271 times.
  • President Trump, despite being the single-biggest villain in the North's eyes, figures in the mix a bit less than one might expect. At 388 mentions, he falls far short of "imperialists" (454), the more generic KCNA term for Americans. "Lunatic" and "dotard," which are emerging as KCNA's favored adjectives for Trump, are still being broken in and haven't made the top 100 list.
(More North Korea stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.