A North Korean vlogger has started to gain attention in South Korea for the doubtful representation of Pyongyang on her channel.
The YouTuber, who goes by the name of Yu Mi, has been posting lifestyle videos on her channel, Olivia Natasha- YuMi Space DPRK Daily, since August 2022. In all ten videos on this channel, Yu Mi showcases the “normal” life in North Korea’s capital city Pyongyang, speaking entirely in English. She introduced her viewers to North Korean ice cream in her very first upload. Since then, she has regularly highlighted different parts of Pyongyang’s “lifestyle,” visiting amusement parks, shopping at grocery stores, eating at restaurants, and training in a fitness studio.
The entire channel’s focus seems to be on portraying Pyongyang as a desirable place to live. Yu Mi also mentioned how Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un is trying to improve the lives of the citizens.
But South Korean netizens don’t buy that the channel’s content is genuine. According to analysts, the amateurish vlogging style that otherwise would have hinted at the authenticity of the content is the ploy North Korea has started using to disperse propagandist content without getting flagged by the platforms.
In recent times, international media reports have noted a growing effort on North Korea’s part to spread a global image of the country through social media content. Kang Dong Wan, a professor at Dong-A University, said that the Kim Jong Un government is utilizing platforms like YouTube and Instagram to spread propaganda but through private profiles. Previously, all the state-run channels were repeatedly shut down for violating the platforms’ rules. Talking about the motive of such content, Kang said that “The strategy is to use videos containing the daily lives of residents to say ‘we’re not so different.’”
Yu Mi is just a recent addition to a growing list of such “content creators” from North Korea. Previously, another YouTuber that caught the attention of South Korea was an 11-year-old vlogger named Song Ah, who also made lifestyle videos in English.
The similarity between Song Ah and Yu Mi goes beyond those two factors. Song Ah’s polished English made her viewers suspect that she might belong to a powerful household in Pyongyang, and later it was found that she indeed belonged to a prominent family. She was identified as the daughter of a North Korean diplomat to London and the great-granddaughter of Ri Ul Sol, an ex-marshal of North Korea’s Army. Analysts believe Yu Mi is also a part of a prominent family in North Korea since the places she shows in her vlogs are rare to access, even for wealthy families in Pyongyang.
Though South Korean netizens were shocked by Song Ah’s case, they seem to have gotten used to the concept now. But the irony of these YouTubers trying to appeal to a global audience while the rest of the country doesn’t even have the right to access the internet wasn’t lost on them.
- “Jong Un’s A~S~M~Rrrrrrr”
- “They’d get faster subs if Kim Jong Un just did mukbangs.”
- “The fact that a North Korean girl is able to speak English fluently means she’s from a powerful family already.
- “Commie propaganda…”
- “So she’s obviously the top 1%, and this is all her lifestyle adds up to?? ㅎㅎㅎ Someone show her the lifestyle of our top 1%.”
- “The irony of a North Korean YouTuber that North Korean children aren’t able to watch ㅋㅋㅋㅋ”