North Korean Propaganda: The Beauty Tactic

North Korea recent attempts to change its image in the world should be viewed with caution, according to SAIS student Jaeeun Lee. She identifies several recent examples of North Korea’s use of the “beauty tactic.” By placing beautiful women such as Ri Sol-ju and beauty cheerleader squads at the center stage of their recent diplomatic efforts, she argues that the country is employing a diplomatic façade meant to obscure the reality of the regime.

Jaeeun Lee is a first year MA candidate with a concentration in Strategic Studies at SAIS Johns Hopkins. Her research focuses on propaganda tools and tactics. After attaining her BA in Islam and Middle Eastern Studies at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, she worked as a press officer at the Embassy of Israel in Seoul, South Korea for four years. She is a 2011-12 Israel-Asia Leadership fellow, and is originally from South Korea.


The aesthetic of the female has been used throughout the generations to advertise nearly everything. Many businesses use attractive women to gain the interest of consumers who otherwise might never consider their products. When thinking of the Korean peninsula, images of less than modestly dressed K-pop groups hailing from the Southern side of the demarcation line might be conjured up. However, this paper will focus on North Korea’s less transparent use of women to influence public opinion. Instead of looking to sell a product, North Korea is using their women to sell a different perception of their nation—one that is normalized in democratic societies, to which members of those societies can empathize or even sympathize with.

Over the last 4 months, North Korea has seemed to be making a significant change in its attitude toward not only South Korea but also toward the United States. This trend started with a New Year’s speech by the supreme leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, which indicated the possibility of sending North Korean delegations to the Winter Olympics. South Korean president Moon Jae-in responded to Kim’s speech enthusiastically, and within 3 months there have been high-level official talks between the two Koreas, North Korean delegations including Kim’s younger sister have been sent to South Korea, and joint cultural events have been held in Seoul and Pyongyang. Most importantly, Kim has met President Moon on April 27, 2018 and will subsequently meet the President of the U.S., Donald Trump, within two months. Kim’s diplomatic debut and agreement to meet with presidents of South Korea and the U.S. could give the impression that the North Korean regime is becoming a normal and sociable country. However, with closer scrutiny, North Korea’s conduct raises concern that it is using a deceptive diplomatic façade to soften its image while the hazardous substances of its regime remain unchanged.

Beauty Tactics and Self Injury Tactics: Overturn the Unfavorable Tide

For many of North Korea’s tactics, an analogy can be drawn with the San Shi Liu Ji, or Thirty-Six Stratagems, a classic Chinese essay of military, political, and social stratagems well-known throughout North-East Asia. The last chapter, “The Desperate Stratagem,” consists of tactics to turn the tide of war when the situation is unfavorable.[1] The first is Mei Ren Ji, the beauty tactic, in which a Mei Ren, or beautiful person, can distract the enemy from seeing a substantial threat that is hidden behind a benign disguise.[2]  Another tactic in “The Desperate Stratagem” is Ku Rou Ji, the tactic of self-injury, which involves displaying oneself as vulnerable and innocuous in order to lead the enemy to underestimate the hazard.[3] The core of these tactics is to lead the enemy into false judgments by deceiving him through an innocent façade. North Korea is often underestimated as a country with an irrational regime, and the leader of North Korea is often mocked and described as a small, grumpy child. On the other hand, the North Korean regime has sustained itself for the last 70 years despite numerous predictions of its collapse, and Kim Jong Un successfully inherited his reign from his father and grandfather, who founded the regime. As the Thirty Six Stratagem suggested, the aim of these deceptive tactics is to lead the opponent to misjudge the threat  and therefore upending a disadvantageous situation. Therefore, judging North Korea’s movement based on their presumably superficial gestures, and thus underrating the threat of North Korea, can turn the tide in their favor.

Angels in the Waterfall: From Alluring Soldiers to Online Phishing

The beauty tactic has been ubiquitous in the conflict between South Korea and North Korea. North Korea has been using this tactic over time to allure South Koreans to defect from South Korea to North Korea, or to gather information. Just one kilometer away from the military demarcation line lies a small and quiet town of Yaggu, which UN reporters during the Korean war called a “punch bowl”[4] due to its concave shape. During 1970s to 80s, North Korean military used to collect its female soldiers and made them bathe there in South Korean soldiers’ sight to allure them. Looking over the border, the naked women in the waterfall looked so seductive, South Korean soldiers called the place ”Angel’s waterfall.”  As a response, South Korean built a swimming pool on the top of neighboring Gashilbong, a mountain 1242 meters above sea level, and held a Miss Korea swimsuit competition in 1992. Three sides of the fitting room in this swimming pool were made of glass so that it would be visible from the North Korean side.[5] With the development of communication, mass media, and the internet, the angels in the waterfall these days can reach not only soldiers along the border but any South Korean targets regardless of their location, as long as they are connected to the internet.

Kim Jong-un said in 2013 August that “Cyber-attack is a treasured sword together with the nuclear missile.” [6] Additionally, in February 2014 during his speech at the Conference of Ideological Officials of the Workers’ Party, Kim ordered “decisive measures should be taken to make the Internet network a propaganda place for our ideology and culture.”[7] As shown in Kim’s order, the cyber arena is where North Korea has been putting much of their emphasis for the last few years.

North Korea is actively using beauty tactics to plunder cyber currency and gather information. In December 2017, the South Korean National Intelligence Service (NIS) announced that the North Korean hackers were behind the leakage of personal data of 36,000 members of Bithumb, the largest virtual currency exchange firm in South Korea.[8] NIS also confirmed that it was North Korean hackers that stole virtual currencies from Yapizon and Coinis, South Korean virtual currency exchange companies. According to the Korean and U.S. intelligence authorities’ assessment, the North Korean army employs around 6,000–7,000 professional hackers.[9] Notably, NIS warned Bitcoin companies that North Korea is sending fake emails impersonating beautiful professional women, attaching job applications and resumes together with malware files. NIS additionally warned government officials to be aware of fake Facebook accounts seemingly belonging to beautiful women, while confirming that North Korea successfully hacked 40 South Korean government officials’ mobile phones, including some military personnel.[10] North Korean hackers sent friend requests to South Korean male users from fake Facebook profiles with photos of attractive women to gather information or send malware files. The victims testified to NIS that “the way (she) talked was rather unnatural and (she) asked excessive amount of information about the company.” [11] These fictitious “angels” in the sea of information reached much further than those from the waterfall around the border and caused fiscal damage to South Korean firms. Moreover, the seduction needed to be just enough to lure some South Korean men to accept friend requests and chat. Therefore, this tactic allowed North Korea to achieve actual damage in South Korea by alluring South Koreans with beauties that do not even exist.

The Lovely Couple: North Korea’s First Lady as a Beauty Tactic

Ri Sol-ju made her first debut as the wife of the supreme leader Kim Jong-un in 2012 July, through the only North Korean news agency, Korean Central News Agency. Ever since, she’s been playing a major role in North Korea’s effort to normalize the image of North Korea with her modern, elegant, fashion style and her cheerful, eloquent stage manner derived from her time as a former singer in the Unhasu Orchestra, a state-sanctioned propaganda orchestra. South Korean media continuously compares her elegant fashion style with Princess Diana or Kate Middleton, members of the British royal family.[12]

Again, it was Ri’s appearance that caught the Chinese public’s attention during her visit to China together with Kim on March 25-28, 2018. Users of China’s most popular social media app, Sina Weibo, compared her appearance with the Chinese first lady, Pen Li Yuan. The comments praised Ri’s beauty and said that she is prettier and better dressed than Peng. Some of them even compared her with a famous South Korean actress, Song Hye-kyo. Eventually, the Chinese government blocked comments about Ri from social media and deleted them, according to a report by the Hong Kong South China Morning Post.[13] It was the first time that North Korea officially put its first lady in the center of media attention, and it seems her presence had a positive impact on the  country’s image. Her elegant style and confidence contrasted with her country’s image as an outdated, dictatorial, and aggressive country, thus surprising and attracting public attention. Ri’s polished look is part of a tactical display to alter North Korea’s image as a rogue country.

Ri’s first official appearance to the North Korean public with Kim was at Rungra People’s Pleasure Ground, an amusement park in Pyongyang. She was wearing a bright green western style blouse with a black mini skirt, linking her arms with Kim’s. The seemingly ordinary photos of the married couple were sensational in North Korea.[14] Never before in North Korean history had the leader’s wife appeared in public together with him while displaying such intimacy. North Korean media has been reporting her visits to education and industrial institutes, her meetings with the public, and participation in cultural events together with the supreme leader.

Displaying a happily married life and softening the normally severe tone of the leader’s title lies among the tactics used by North Korea to normalize its image. “My Husband,” is how Kim, the supreme leader of North Korea, was referred to by his wife Ri at the dinner reception with South Korean officials on March 5th 2018.[15]  Up until that point, North Korean leaders have only been called by their title, even by their close family members including wives. Kim’s title Won Su Nim, which translates into “my marshal,” indicates his position as the head of state and military.[16] In North Korea’s totalitarian dictatorship, the title of the leader in an official event is not something that his wife can decide to change. Therefore, Ri’s change in appellation of the leader as her husband should be interpreted as part of North Korea’s efforts to show itself as a normal state where their relationship is “no different from any other.”[17] It seems easier to see an aggressive rogue dictator in Kim when even his wife addresses him “my marshal” than when he is  called “my husband” by an attractive, smiling, and affable wife.

On February 8th 2018, the state-owned broadcaster Korean Central Television addressed Ri as “Madame” for the first time instead of her previous title, “Comrade,” during her participation in the military parade. Additionally, her name was announced even before other influential North Korean politicians and military leaders such as North Korean foreign minister, Kim Young-nam, and Vice Marshal, Choi Ryoung-hae.[18] In North Korea, the order of announcement of names indicates the power hierarchy.[19] Presenting Ri as Madame and announcing her name prior to major political players shows that North Korea is trying to strengthen Ri’s role as a first lady. All three of the North Korean TV channels including the Korean Central Television are all fully controlled under the propaganda department of the Workers’ Party. Independent operation is not allowed and the party strictly controls the production of any TV program.[20] Therefore, the change in Ri’s title is presumably a decision made by the North Korean Workers’ Party. It is part of the political propaganda to highlight Ri’s position while softening the tone of the title to familiarize the leader’s wife and present her similarly to other heads of states’ spouses. However, even if the first lady of the regime is well dressed, shows a gentle manner, and behaves like a woman in the free world, it is premature to determine whether this directly indicates that the substance of North Korea has changed.


Beauty Cheerleading Squads: Cheering for the Regime

North Korea famously sent a cheerleader squad to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. This so called “beauty cheerleader squad” consisted of 229 North Korean women in their 20s.[21] These girls impressed not only the South Korean public but also the international media with their perfectly synchronized cheering. In some games, they cheered for South Korean athletes and waved unification flags, shouting “We are one” and “Reunification of our motherland.” [22] These highly trained cheerleaders shouting for reunification is heartwarming for South Koreans,[23] however it is important to understand the process the cheerleaders go through before being sent to South Korea and during their visit to South Korea to understand the real purpose of these cheerleader squads.

A North Korean defector who was selected as a member of the beauty cheerleader squad in 2002 said the purpose of these cheerleader squads is to show off the unified power of North Korea[24] and to “penetrate the heart of the enemy.”[25] The selection and training process of the North Korean cheerleader squad helps reveal North Korea’s purpose in sending cheerleader delegations to South Korea. First of all, candidates must satisfy political qualifications, and family background checks. To eliminate the possibility of treason, candidates with any family member who defected from North Korea cannot be selected. Appearance is, of course, also an important selection criterion. The cheerleader squad is selected based on South Korean beauty standards instead of North Korea’s.[26] The most important consideration is the loyalty to the party. Once selection process is completed, the cheerleaders go through three to six months of training while living together. During this period, they are trained to do coordinated choreography, and, most importantly, ideological education is conducted. This ideological education includes how to properly promote the North Korean regime, how to create positive public opinion about Kim’s family and the party, how to respond to sudden questions by journalists or South Korean citizens, how to deal with such situations, and the code of conduct while staying in South Korea. Furthermore, the training period is not the end of political surveillance. During their visits to South Korea the cheerleaders are always under surveillance by North Korean security officers that accompany them at all times.[27] Chosun Ilbo, a South Korean news agency, reported that during the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics the deputy director of the United Front Department of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of North Korea, Maeng Kyong-il, stayed with the cheerleaders. According to the report, Maeng set up a situation room in the hotel and constantly communicated with Pyongyang.[28] Self-criticism sessions are another tool to keep North Korean cheerleaders from treason. Every organization in North Korea holds self-criticism sessions regularly, where each individual confesses any wrongdoings or lack of loyalty to the party and the leader in front of a group. The North Korean cheerleaders were known to hold these sessions daily and submit the reports to the security officers during their stay in South Korea. [29] The carefully managed image that the North Korean regime enforces for the cheerleaders shows that they are political activists rather than cultural delegates. They are selected and trained to promote the North Korean regime and to win the hearts of South Koreans.

The Pyeongchang Winter Olympics is the fourth event where North Korea sent beauty cheerleader squads to South Korea. The first time was in 2002 during the Busan Asian Games where 288 North Korean cheerleaders visited South Korea. Earlier that year at the 8.15 Grand National Unification Festival, one of the North Korean dancers who performed, Cho Myung-ae, became the center of the South Korean public’s attention and soon created the so-called “Cho Myung-ae Syndrome.” An online fan club was created for her, and more than 10,000 South Koreans joined. [30] She also appeared in a Samsung mobile phone commercial together with South Korea’s most popular K-pop star at the time, Lee Hyo-ri. In 2003, during the Daegu Summer Universiade (also called the World University Games), 303 North Korean cheerleaders visited South Korea, and during the 2005 Incheon Asian Athletics Championships, 124 visited including the current North Korean first lady Ri. [31] During the North Korean cheerleaders’ visit in 2002, a South Korean matchmaker company conducted surveys in which 64 percent of unmarried South Korean men answered that they would like to marry a North Korean woman, and 66 percent of middle-aged people in their 40s or older wanted to have North Korean women as their daughters-in-law, [32] compared to the survey that was conducted two months prior to the North Korean cheerleaders’ visit, where 54.6% of South Korea men said it would be impossible to marry North Korean women even after reunification.[33] This shows that beauty cheerleader squad successfully built a positive image about North Korean females and definitely earned the heart of South Koreans.

Women in Power: Elegance of Female Political and Cultural Leaders

It is interesting that recent delegations from North Korea to South Korea were led by attractive female leaders. Their luxurious fashion style and elegant attitude were the center of South Korean media during their visits.[34] The media was more concerned with superficial content, such as their appearance and behavior, than the topics of their meetings with South Korean officials. The contrast of their appearance as modern, elegant and confident women to the image of North Korea as a suppressed country that suffers from extreme poverty presumably drew this fervent attention.[35] Kim Yo-jong, a younger sister of Kim Jong-un, visited South Korea for three days (February 9-11, 2018). This was the first visit by a member of North Korea’s ruling Kim family to South Korea. Prior to Kim Yo-jong’s visit, Hyun Song-wol, a director of the Sam Ji-yeon orchestra, visited South Korea to inspect concert venues. During both visits, South Korean newspapers and television were dominated by reports about every move she made. In the South Korean media, Kim Yo-jong and Hyung Song-wol were often praised as confident and elegant.[36] South Korean media was mesmerized by their strong political stance in North Korea combined with their attractive appearances. Hyun visited South Korea with a lavish fur scarf, and articles exclusively dealt with guessing the materials and price of such a scarf were published, noting that it is a luxurious product.[37] In her previous visit, her bag was the center of attention. It was presumed to be a designer bag, and she was listed together with other rich business women in South Korea who use similar products.[38] It is noteworthy that Kim Yo-jong is not just a sister of Kim Jong-un, but also the head of the Korean Workers’ Party’s Propaganda and Agitation department, and Hyun Song-wol is a head of a North Korean art troupe, which is a major propaganda tool in North Korea. The elegant and confident images of them portrayed by the South Korean media presumably fulfilled their objectives: to portray the country that they represented as elegant and confident country.

Dual Faces of North Korea: Inseparable Politics and Cultures

It should not be overlooked that aggressive political messages conveyed by the Rodong Shinmun, and soft, heartwarming cultural events are plotted by the same body, the Workers’ party. Therefore, in order to understand the real intention of North Korea, all spectrums of North Korean activities should be observed carefully. According to the regulations of the Worker’s Party of North Korea, the Workers’ Party is the highest form of political organization and leads every sector of the state including political, military, economic, and cultural institutions.[39] Therefore, the Worker’s party in North Korea controls every sector in North Korea. This means North Korean cultural events, media and North Korean politics are inseparable. Every song and performance is under the control of the North Korean Workers’ party’s political agenda.

One example of this control was on April 1st and 3rd, 2018, when Korean K-pop stars performed in Pyeongyang for the first time in 13 years. Kim Jong-un and his wife attended the performance and shook hands with South Korean singers while exchanging jokes. However, at the same time North Korea has shown duplicity when they invited eight South Korean reporters to Pyeongyang while blocking seven of the journalists’ on-site access to the concert. Only one cameraman was able to enter the concert venue.[40] Additionally, Korean Central TV muted South Korean songs in approximately six minutes of broadcast, and instead featured a voiceover by the North Korean anchor. [41] The control of a music performance in Pyongyang shows that North Korea shields their population from South Korean influence, and their cultural events are strictly managed, while the North Korean regime continuously attempts to influence South Korean population through beauty tactics. Additionally, Asahi Shinbun, a major Japanese newspaper, reported that just ten days before the joint concert in Pyeongyang there was a public trial held in North Korea in which six teenagers who listened and danced to South Korean music were charged with an “anti-state plot.”[42] Moreover, on April 3rd, the day of the concert, the North Korean official newspaper Rodong Shinmun published an article that threatened that the South Korean government “will pay a price if they behave flippantly in this critical time.” [43] A day after, on 4th of April, the same paper bashed the South Korean government for “shamefully [supporting] the manipulated anti-DPRK human rights resolution”[44] followed by another article on April 8th claiming that “the International Criminal Tribunal is a puppet of Western powers such as the United States, which interferes with the internal affairs of other countries, and is under international condemnation and rejection.”[45] Additionally, on the 6th of April, the paper called South Korea “a colonial hen that gives birth to a golden egg in the United States.” [46]


Recently, there have been prominent displays of female figures by the North Korean regime, as they present beautiful, well mannered, and respectable women to the world. Indeed, it diverges from the rogue state’s previous image as an aggressive and hostile nation intent on furthering its agenda through militaristic dominance. Where once they tried to seduce the world with the physical beauty of their women, now the North Korean state has transitioned into using beauty tactics to normalize the image of their nation. Painting portraits of well mannered, affable, and fashionable women in the higher echelons of government, Northeast Asia is given a distraction from the autocratic core that still resides at the heart of the regime. While some welcome the changes in attitude have been recently presented by North Korea, 70 years of conflict serves as a reminder to err on the side of caution. Rarely has the country been transparent in its intent, and it is important to remember that, unlike the governmental constructs we are accustomed to, the North Korean regime operates under the full authority of the Worker’s Party, and all arms of the North Korean government operate according to its whims. It should be remembered that the North Korean Department of Propaganda is consciously manipulating outsiders’ perception of their country, and allowing them to do so will obscure the full view of their agenda.


Top photograph, “Propaganda of North Korea” taken from Mark Fahey, used under Creative Commons license for reuse (

All Korean sources quoted in this article were translated by the author.

[1] Sin, Dongjun 신동준, Mu Keong Sip Seo무경십서 [Ten Military Classics] (Goyang: Wisdom House, 2013), 601.

[2] Sin. 601-602.

[3] Sin, 609-610

[4] Kim youngin 김영인, “yanggu ‘peonchibol dullegil’ jeonmungigwan witag unyeong” 양구 ‘펀치볼 둘레길’ 전문기관 위탁 운영 [Operated by specialized agency ‘Punch Ball circumference trail’]. Yonhap News 연합뉴스, March 24,2014.

[5] Maeng Suyeol, “Sawol-ui nun naelineun bunji ma-eul umpug pain apeum-eun dasi gaseum-eul eneun deut” 사월의 눈 내리는 분지 마을 움푹 파인 아픔은 다시 가슴을 에는 듯 [snowing basin town in April the pain wring the heart again]. Kookbang Ilbo 국방일보, April 7, 2016

[6] Kim Hojun김호준, Buk daenamjojigae daetgeuljeondamtim unyeong…saibeosimlijeon hyeolan北, 대남조직에 댓글전담팀 운영…사이버심리전 혈안 [North, operating counter South organization exclusive for online comments… Cyber psychological warfare]. Yonhap News 연합뉴스, October 24, 2016.

[7] Ibid

[8] Kim Minseok 김민석, “haek·misail jageum gogal···buk, amhohwapye talchwie nun dollina” 핵·미사일 자금 고갈···北, 암호화폐 탈취에 눈 돌리나 [Nuclear, missile fund depletion · · · North, turns to extortion of cryptocurrency]. Joongang Ilbo 중앙일보, February 2, 2018.

[9] Lee Youngjong 이영종, “Buk haeking tonghae donmat…ijen biteukoinae ibjil”북, 해킹 통해 돈맛…이젠 비트코인에 입질 [North, tasted money through hacking…now bite into bitcoin] Kookbang Ilbo 국방일보, January 23, 2018.

[10] Gang Taehwa 강태화, “bukhan pebuk miingye…gongjigjawa chingu maejeo jaryo yogu” 북한 페북 미인계…공직자와 친구 맺어 자료 요구 [North Korean beauty trap on Facebook…friends with government officials to demand documents] Joongang Ilbo 중앙일보, March 12, 2016

[11] Park Gunhyung 박건형 “bukeui saibeo matahali… minyeolo wijanghan meil bonae haeking” 北의 사이버 마타하리… 미녀로 위장한 메일 보내 해킹[ Cyber Mata Hari from north…hacking with emails disguising as beauties] Chosun Ilbo 조선일보, December 16, 2017.

[12] Ahn Seungsup 안승섭, “Ri Sol Ju bukseo paesyeonlideo yeong mideulteon wangsesonbin-i model-indeus” 리설주 北서 패션리더…英미들턴 왕세손빈이 모델인듯 [Ri Sol Ju fashion leader in North Korea…seemingly British Duchess Middleton is a model]. Yonhap News 연합뉴스, December 1, 2017.

[13] Liu, Yujing. “Kim Jong-un Wife’s Fashion Sense a Hit with China’s Public.” South China Morning Post, March 28, 2018.

[14] Chung Sungjang 정성장, “buk peoseuteuleidi Ri Sol Ju syokeu”北퍼스트레이디 리설주 쇼크 [North first lady Ri sol ju shock]. Wolgan Jungang 월간중앙, August 18, 2012.

[15] Lee Yeonghui이영희, “Ri Sol Ju teugsadan apaeseo Kim Jong Un ae wonsunim anin je nampyeon” 이설주, 특사단 앞에서 김정은에 원수님 아닌 제 남편 [Ri Sol Ju in front of delegations My husband to Kim Jong Un instead Wonsunim]. Joongang ilbo 중앙일보, April 3, 2018.

[16] YOSHIHIRO MAKINO, “Growing profile of Kim Jong Un’s wife shows more ‘normal’ nation.” the Asahi Shimbun. April 3, 2018.

[17] Ibid

[18] Jeong Young Bin 정영빈, nyuseu tunait뉴스투나잇[News Tonight]. Yonhap News TV연합뉴스 TV. February 8, 2018.

[19] Jeon Sujin 전수진, “Kim Jong-un dasuui pogjeong yonginsul” 김정은 다수의 폭정 용인술 [Kim Jong-un’s tyranny of the majority in human resource management]. Joongang Ilbo 중앙일보, December 23, 2017.

[20] Ministry of Unification 통일부 ” seonjeonseondongbu 선전선동부 [Propaganda and Agitation Department].”. (Accessed April 23, 2018)

[21] Baek Nari 백나리, “13nyeon man-e on bughan eung-wondan…ibeon-edo daebubun 20dae yeoseong” 13년 만에 온 북한 응원단…이번에도 대부분 20대 여성 [North Korean cheering squad in 13 years … Mostly in their twenties] Yonhap News 연합뉴스, February 7, 2018.

[22] Hwang Geumbi 황금비 and Roh Jiwon노지원, “seumuldaseot-sal-ibnida. hwalgiissgo baglyeog-issneun eung-won hagessseubnida” 스물다섯살입니다. 활기있고 박력있는 응원 하겠습니다 [I’m twenty five years old. I will cheer lively and energetic] Hankyoreh 한겨례, February 7, 2018

[23] Kim Mingwan 김민관, “Bukhan eungwondan, gyeongpodaero cheot yaowe nadeuli…badado hana” 북한 응원단, 경포대로 첫 야외 나들이…바다도 하나 [North Korean cheerleader squad, first picnic to Gyeongpodae…Ocean is one also]. JTBC, February 13, 2018.

[24] Kim Hyunjin 김현진, “hanguk nae talbukjadeul, bukhan eungwondan bangnamae gidaewa ulyeo” 한국 내 탈북자들, 북한 응원단 방남에 기대와 우려[North Korean defectors in South Korea show expectation and concerns about North Korea cheerleaders visit to South Korea]. Voice of America, January 24, 2018.

[25] Laura Bicker and Hosu Lee, “North Korea cheerleader: ‘We were on the frontline.’” BBC news, February 15, 2018.

[26] For example, North Koreans consider rounded and fuller faces to be beautiful, while South Koreans prefer a skinny and sharp jawline.

[27] Kim Seungju 김승주, “Bughan-eung-wondan-ui silche” 북한응원단의 실체 [The reality of the North Korean cheering squad] New Focus 뉴포커스, July 8, 2014.

[28] Joo Wonjin 주원진, “Buk maeng gyeong il, pyeongchang ollimpig naenae eungwondangwa hamkke isseo” 北 맹경일, 평창올림픽 내내 응원단과 함께 있어 [North Maeng Kyung Il, stayed with cheerleader squad throughout Pyeongchang Olympic] TV Chosun TV 조선, March 1, 2018

[29] Kim, “Bughan-eung-wondan-ui silche” 북한응원단의 실체 [The reality of the North Korean cheering squad].

[30] Kim Sigwan 김시관, “Je i je sam-ui jomyeong-aedo daegi jung” 제2, 제3의 조명애도 대기 중 [The second, third Cho Myung Ae is awaiting] Joogan Donga 주간동아, May 31, 2005

[31] Hong Gookgi 홍국기, “Buk, namae yeokdae nebeonjjae eung-wondan pagyeon…minyeoeung-wondan tto bonaena” 北, 南에 역대 네번째 응원단 파견…미녀응원단 또 보내나 [North dispatch fourth supports to South…another beauty cheerleader squad may be sent] Yonhap News 연합뉴스, January 17,2018

[32] Cha Byungsun 차병선, “Dyuo seolmunjosa…mihonnamnam 64% buknyeowa gyeolhonhagetda” 듀오 설문조사…미혼南男 64% “北女와 결혼하겠다 [Duo survey…64% of single South Korean men would marry North Korean women]. Chosun Ilbo 조선일보, October 14, 2002.

[33] Jang yungeun 장영은, “Jeolmeuncheung 65% ingonggi eungwon halsu isseoya” 젊은층 65% ‘인공기 응원할수 있어야’ [65% of young people ‘should be able to cheer flag of North Korea’]. Yonhap News 연합뉴스, August 21, 2018.

[34] Kim Joohyung 김주형, “Buk Kim Yeojeong, mopiteol pointeu koteu…chabunhago pumgyeokitge yeonchul”北 김여정, 모피털 포인트 코트…차분하고 품격있게 연출 [North Kim Yo-jung, a fur coat … Calm and elegantly dressed]. Yonhap News 연합뉴스, February 9,2018.

[35] Lee Sunyoung 이선영, “hyeon song-wol, sachipum suib geumjidoen bukhanseo icheon obaeg man won haendeubaegeul? neombeotuui wieom” 현송월, 사치품 수입 금지된 북한서 2500만원 핸드백을? 넘버2의 위엄 [ Hyun Sol-wol, 25million krw worth handbag in North Korea where forbidden to import luxury goods. Majesty of Number two]. Hankook Sports Kyungjae 한국스포츠경제, January 20, 2018.

[36] Kim Pan 김판 and Shin Jaehee 신재희, “Dodohan teog, dokteughan pilche, simpeulhan paesyeon… Kim Yojong gwonwi yeonchul” 도도한 턱·독특한 필체·심플한 패션… 김여정 권위 연출 [Dandy chin, unique handwriting, simple fashion … Kim Jae-jung display of authority]. Kookmin Ilbo 국민일보, February 12, 2018.

[37] Hong Jungsoo 홍정수, “ibeon-en mopimogdoli… nungil kkeun Hyeon Songwol  paesyeon” 이번엔 모피목도리… 눈길 끈 현송월 패션 [This time fur scarf… eye catching Hyun Songwol fashion] Donga Ilbo 동아일보, January 22, 2018.

[38] Kim Myunghee 김명희, “myeongpum-eulo bon kolia sanglyusahoe” [upscale Korean society observed through designers’ product] Yeosung Donga 여성동아, May, 2018.

[39] Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. “Nodongdang gyuyak” 노동당규약 [Workers’ Party Rules and Regulations]. Pyongyang: Rodong Sinmun, 2012. (available at

[40] Kim Guenhee 김근희, “Kim Yeongchul ‘chwijaejin tongje’ dageubhi gongsig sagwa” 김영철 ‘취재진 통제’ 다급히 공식 사과 [Kim Young-chul ‘reporter control’ urgently official apology]. MBN, April 3, 2018.

[41] SPN Seoul Pyongyang News SPN 서울평양뉴스, “Bukcheugi gonggaehan namhanyesuldan Pyeongyang gongyeon yeongsang 180402 joseon jungang TV” 북측이 공개한 남한예술단 평양 공연 영상 180402 조선중앙TV [North Korean Art delegation Pyeongyang performance video that North publicized 180402 Korea Central TV]. Youtube. April 2, 2018. Accessed April 25, 2018.

[42] Makino ai Hiroshi 牧野愛博, “Kankoku ongaku de odotta 6-ri o kōkai saiban Kitachōsen inbō-zai nado de” 韓国音楽で踊った6人を公開裁判 北朝鮮 陰謀罪などで [Six people who danced in Korean music to public trial] Asahi Shinbun 朝日新聞, April 8,2018.

[43] Eun Jungcheol 은정철, “jeongsewanhwagugmyeon-e yeoghaenghaneun mubunbyeolhan cheosa” 정세완화국면에 역행하는 무분별한 처사 [Reckless behavior contrary to the easing phase of situation]. Rodong Shinmun 로동신문, April 3, 2018.

[44] Sim Yongcheol 심영철, “yongnabhalsu eobsneun bangonghwagug《ingwon》molyagsodong” 용납할수 없는 반공화국《인권》모략소동[Unacceptable anti-DPRK “human rights” scheme] Rodong Shinmun 로동신문, April 4, 2018.

[45] Son Soyeon 손소연, “yumyeongmusilhan jonjaelo doeyeoganeun gugjehyeongsajaepanso” 유명무실한 존재로 되여가는 국제형사재판소 [International Criminal Court becoming obsolete]. Rodong Shinmun 로동신문, April 8, 2018.

[46] Korea Central News Agency 조선중앙통신, “nallo simgaghaejineun namjoseon-e daehan migug-ui gyeongjejeog-abbagchaegdong” 날로 심각해지는 남조선에 대한 미국의 경제적압박책동[US economic pressure on South Korea is getting worse]. Rodong Shinmun 로동신문, April 6. 2018.

Jaeeun Lee
Jaeeun Lee

Jaeeun Lee is a first year MA candidate with a concentration in Strategic Studies at SAIS Johns Hopkins. Her research focuses on propaganda tools and tactics. After attaining her BA in Islam and Middle Eastern Studies at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, she worked as a press officer at the Embassy of Israel in Seoul, South Korea for four years. She is a 2011-12 Israel-Asia Leadership fellow, and is originally from South Korea.