Cover art by Katrina McGaughey

North Korea has been a fascination of western media for decades. Given that people are rarely ever able to cross the country’s borders, people are reliant on the news media for a lot of their information on the country.

Over the years, much of the reporting on North Korean affairs has relied on sensationalism. The coverage revolves around a few predictable topics, such as missile testing and nuclear weapons. However, most prominently featured is reporting on its leader, Kim Jong-Un, usually some quirky development about the eccentric – and, as we are constantly reminded, overweight – dictator. And if it’s not about Kim Jong-un, then you’d be hard-pressed to hear about it. The citizens of North Korea are seldom heard from at all.

Silas sat down with Hyeji Yoon, who wrote a piece for the review of Journalism about where the western media fails when it comes to reporting on North Korea. She spoke to several North Koreans to get their perspective, and explored the damage that this kind of sensationalist reporting can do. Hyeji spoke about her reporting process, how she was able to find these sources, and why Canadian media has such a strange fascination with this country.

Guest Bio:

Hyeji Yoon is a fourth-year undergraduate journalism student at Toronto Metropolitan University. As a writer, she exhibits a lot of flexibility in the topics she is passionate about—which can range from as broad a scope as international human rights to as small-scale as her neighbourhood’s annual bake sale. She hopes to expand her limits even further by developing a skillset suited to tackle the ever-growing newssphere in the digital world. You can often catch her during short breaks poring over books on her phone because she doesn’t want the physical copies getting dirty.

Resources:

North Korean defectors in Toronto worried they may be deported: https://globalnews.ca/news/3890370/north-korean-defectors-in-toronto-worried-they-may-be-deported-they-treat-us-like-garbage/

Canada deports more than 200 North Korean escapees who took South Korean citizenship: https://www.rfa.org/english/news/korea/canada-10142022171448.html


Please check out the Spring 2023 issue of the Review of Journalism at https://reviewofjournalism.ca/ for this and so many other wonderful stories. Even better, buy a print copy!
You can find the Review of Journalism on Twitter, Instagram and TikTok.

About the author

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Tara De Boer is a second-year Master of Journalism student at Toronto Metropolitan University. She holds a BA of Honours Arts and Business from the University of Waterloo, with a major in Speech Communication. Tara is a writer for CTVNews.ca and has bylines in Maclean’s digital magazine and Toronto Life with a special focus in culture, sports, entertainment and health. Prior to this, she interned as an associate producer for CBC News Network where she chased breaking news stories and co-produced live television news segments.

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Tim Cooke is a second-year Master of Journalism student at Toronto Metropolitan University. He did his bachelor’s in History and Classics at the University of Toronto. He loves journalism that explores the historical background of current affairs. Last summer, he interned at documentary film production company Primitive Entertainment, working as a production intern on TVO Original Viral News and helping to research a forthcoming project. He hopes to work in documentary film and audio.

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Silas Le Blanc is a second-year Master of Journalism student at Toronto Metropolitan University. She has previously worked as the Sports Editor and Managing Online Editor at The Varsity, and as an intern at Xtra, and at The Logic. She is currently the news coordinator at CJRU 1280AM, and does production for CBC’s Cross Country Checkup. In her spare time she listens to SOPHIE, Charli XCX, and Bladee.

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Hyeji Yoon is a fourth-year undergraduate journalism student at Toronto Metropolitan University. As a writer, she exhibits a lot of flexibility in the topics she is passionate about—which can range from as broad a scope as international human rights to as small-scale as her neighbourhood’s annual bake sale. She hopes to expand her limits even further by developing a skillset suited to tackle the ever-growing newssphere in the digital world. You can often catch her during short breaks poring over books on her phone because she doesn’t want the physical copies getting dirty.

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