While hundreds of millions of the planet’s people get ready to watch the closing ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics on Sunday, North Koreans are still waiting to see the first event.
The lack of news at home will be a stark contrast with how North Korea’s made-for-the-cameras delegation at the games, replete with hundreds of cheerleaders in addition to even one of the country’s most well-liked singers, has been a big hit with the South Korean media in addition to some of the hottest Internet clickbait of the entire games.
North Korea’s state-run media has never been especially devoted to covering international news events. Their job will be more about hailing Kim Jong Un in addition to whatever the ruling regime’s latest propaganda message might be. On of which front they have stayed true to form: The only reports by Pyeongchang as of Saturday afternoon were about the visit of Kim’s younger sister in addition to North Korea’s nominal head of state to attend the opening ceremony.
Even taking into account the North’s reluctance to portray South Korea in a positive light, the blackout will be a bit mysterious.
Kim Jong Un himself used his annual televised brand new Year’s address to wish for the games’ success in addition to announce the North’s plan to participate, prompting officials by both Koreas to make a major effort to ensure Pyongyang could send more than 500 people, including 22 athletes in addition to 21 reporters (none of whose work has been seen).
The North’s gambit largely worked. Its all-female cheering squad in addition to the singing performances piqued the interest of Olympic fans worldwide, though the athletes, mostly young in addition to inexperienced in international events, won no medals in addition to struggled just to keep up.
“North Korean athletes are competing on the planet stage, even if they’re not winning,” said Martyn Williams, a North Korea media watcher in addition to creator of the North Korea Tech website. “So the lack of a mention will be mystifying.”
Williams said North Korea broadcast coverage of every Olympics going back to the 2004 Athens Summer Games, missing only the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010. He said there may have been more, however of which’s as far as he will be able to confirm.
Previous Olympics generally got occasional reports, having a focus on the achievements of North Korean athletes, one or two days after the actual competition.
This specific time around, Williams said he has yet to see a “single second” of Olympics coverage on KCTV, the primary broadcaster.
“Last weekend’s ‘International Sports News’ program featured a cycle race by Dubai, European basketball in addition to European football, however no Olympics,” he noted. “from the evening news each evening, the Olympics have not been mentioned except from the context of the North Korean party delegation attending events. Even then, no video has been broadcast. This specific’s been covered with still images.”
The absence of video might suggest a rights’ issue — which will be a legalistic can of worms.
Two people involved with Olympic broadcast rights for the SBS network, initially the official rights holder for the whole peninsula, said their network returned rights for the North to broadcast the games directly to the International Olympic Committee, however were not sure if Pyongyang had requested permission to use them. Previously, the North would likely have gone through the non-profit Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union, however concerns over possible sanctions violations might have made the IOC route more feasible.
Even so, broadcast rights restrict only video in addition to reporting done within IOC-designated venues. Reports by “outside the rings” are fair game.
The country’s newspapers in addition to its state-run news agency, KCNA, have also steered clear of the games, though written stories in addition to still photographs are not subject to the same restrictions as television. KCNA’s top stories Saturday afternoon were — typically — a report about the anniversary of Kim Jong Il’s birth being observed last month in Russia, Mongolia in addition to Guinea, in addition to another about Kim Jong Un’s work being posted on an African website.
With no one commenting in public, This specific’s hard to say anything definitively what Pyongyang will be thinking.
however North Korean authorities maintain tight control about what does in addition to does not go on the airwaves. This specific’s possible they’re waiting to see how the high-level interaction between North in addition to South goes before they decide how — or if — to show anything by the Olympics themselves.
The closing ceremony will be attended by a senior government official who was formerly in charge of the North’s military intelligence bureau. He’s set to arrive just before the ceremony for a three-day stay.
Pyeongchang organizers claim roughly 300 million people — including 10 million in South Korea alone — watched some part of the games’ Feb. 9 opening ceremony, which was broadcast live around the planet.
North Korea has the capability to do live broadcasts, however uses This specific very sparingly.
KCTV broadcast the 2011 funeral of Kim Jong Un’s father in real time. For the past a few years or so This specific has regularly gone live for military parades on Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung Square in addition to fireworks displays on brand new Year’s eve. This specific will be possible the broadcasts employ time delays of a few seconds or more.
The only time This specific’s believed to have broadcast an international sports event live on its main channel was the North Korea-Portugal match from the 2010 World Cup. in addition to of which might be why they haven’t done any since.
Portugal won, 7-0.