While no one knows how much North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un will loosen his totalitarian stranglehold on his people, a very significant change has already taken place since his historic meeting with President Trump Tuesday in Singapore.
North Korean media outlets are some of the most censored in the world. Not only are the country’s impoverished citizens subjected to staged images of North Korea’s alleged prosperity, they are barred from seeing what the outside world actually looks like. All media is state-controlled.
Yet there is a thirst for knowledge of the outside world among the North Korean people. Smuggled flash drives containing South Korean TV shows are such a hot black market item that people are willing to watch and share them despite the threat of severe punishment, according to CBC.
But now there’s a chink in the armor blocking North Korea’s view of the rest of the world, and it was put there by the state-run media themselves. Shortly after the U.S.-North Korea summit, the North Korean people were shown a 42-minute-long video of the event, including shots of the lavishness and glory of capitalist Singapore, CNN reported.
While still adorned with the disturbing trappings of a typical North Korean propaganda piece, the video included sweeping shots of the ultra-modern skyline of Singapore, a metropolis so developed that the name of the city and the name of the country that contains it are synonymous.
The video also shows Kim strolling through luxury hotels, driving down beautiful boulevards, and walking along one of the world’s most spectacular urban waterfronts at night.
“It was likely some North Koreans' first glimpse of the world outside their tightly restricted borders,” CNN noted.
"[Kim] is going to learn a lot from the good knowledge and experience of Singapore in various fields in the future," the hermit kingdom’s state media reported.
It’s unknown what the brutal dictator plans to do with his experience, but the fact that he’s willing to show his people what the free market can do for a country is a massive departure from always representing North Korea as the pinnacle of human civilization. In other words, it’s not the type of video you show people if you want them to be satisfied with their present situation.
The video also included many shots of Kim and Trump acting in a friendly manner together, including Kim patting the American president on the back. Their behavior stands in stark contrast to their threats of nuclear war and total annihilation just months ago.
It’s also a contrast to Americans always being described as evil imperialists by North Korea media. Typically, North Korean schoolchildren are taught to fear and hate the U.S., which is painted as a violent nation full of marauders bent on world domination, according to Newsweek.
While so much in North Korea must change for its people to ever know the freedoms that Americans often take for granted, and it may take generations before the North Korean people truly are free from rampant human rights violations, this could be one of the first steps in that process.