Why does it feel like there's a gun to their head?


North Korea's government is desperately trying to appear more relatable to the outside world with its own host of YouTubers.

The talent appear in clearly scripted and awkward propaganda videos, CNN reports, sharing stories about what it's purportedly like living in the country.

One video shows a YouTuber telling her audience about how her favorite book is "Harry Potter" — which is surprising, considering the country's strict restrictions on Western media.

Another YouTuber appeared in a similarly stunted video.

"This is milk flavor — the picture is so cute," she says, before biting into an ice cream cone.

While these videos have only attracted tens of thousands of views and subscribers, experts tell CNN that it's pretty evident they're ploys to make life in North Korea appear more normal than it really is — a misleading picture being painted by the high-ranking officials who are likely behind the videos.

The Rehearsal

Park Seong-cheol, a researcher at the Database Centre for North Korean Human Rights, told CNN that the videos "look like a well-prepared play."

A separate video shows one of the same YouTubers going for a dip at a water park with a wave pool. But in reality, the facility likely isn't accessible to the general public, and can only stay in operation infrequently given a severely underdeveloped infrastructure.

"For example, the power supply in North Korea is not smooth enough to operate an amusement park, so I’ve heard that they would only operate it on the weekends or on a special day like when they film a video," Park told CNN.

Blackouts and electricity shortages are commonplace. In fact, according to the report, only about a quarter of the population even have access to electricity.

Tourism Boost

In short, the lives portrayed in these YouTube videos are more than likely completely fabricated representations of daily life in the country.

Ha Seung-hee, a research professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University, told CNN that the videos are likely an example of the North Korean government shifting towards new forms of propaganda, preparing for a new emphasis on tourism in a post-pandemic world.

But whether the videos will really be able to fool savvy international viewers, of course, is anything but clear.

READ MORE: They eat ice cream and read ‘Harry Potter,’ but these North Korean YouTubers aren’t what they seem [CNN]

More on the country: Only the Poorest People in North Korea Want to Live in the Tops of High-Rises

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