Global News: How North Korea is using TV sitcoms as state propaganda

December 4, 2017

By Leslie Young, National Online Journalist, Investigative

Global News


A group of friends, who all live in the same apartment building, go about their daily lives in the big city. The camera follows them in the yard outside, in the elevator, and in each other’s well-appointed apartments – where they make jokes, flirt and hang out.

It could be Friends. But this also describes the setting of the 2013 North Korean TV drama Our Neighbours, where meddling neighbours conspire to set up two of the building’s single residents, with lots of opportunities for awkward misunderstandings and slapstick humour.

This is the new face of propaganda in North Korea, says Jean Lee, a global fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. It’s softer and more subtle than the nightly news broadcasts, and more entertaining too, she said. “[North Koreans] are much more inclined to pay attention because they’re enjoying it.”