North Korean news sites erasing tens of thousands of articles

AFP-JIJI

North Korea’s state news outlets have erased tens of thousands of articles archived on their websites following the execution of leader Kim Jong Un’s uncle, according to a watchdog site.

About 35,000 articles have disappeared from the website of the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), as well as 65,000 articles in Spanish, English, Chinese and Japanese, according to Frank Feinstein, an analyst who tracks the North’s online media for U.S.-based website NK News.

About 20,000 articles were also removed from the archives of the Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of North Korea’s Workers’ Party, it said.

Currently, the digital record of state-approved news only reaches back to October 2013 on KCNA’s website.

It was not clear if the deletion is permanent, but the move followed the purge and execution last week of Kim’s uncle and one-time political mentor, Jang Song Thaek.

The South’s Yonhap news agency had previously reported that Jang was edited out of a re-run of a documentary aired on the North’s main television channel.

“This is a calculated thing they’ve done,” Feinstein told NK News. “Across all sites, it means the order most likely came from above each individual agency.”

Another expert who follows North Korean media output told NK News that the move adds “extra noise to the cacophony of confusion related to North Korea these days.”

“My initial reaction is one of shock at the extremity of such an action, but it is clear it was a carefully made decision,” said the expert, who was not named.

She suggested it may have been an effort to rewrite history and secure Kim as the new leader, or simply the result of efforts to delete articles relating to Jang.

“Likely, it’s a combination of reasons that led to this, but as with many North Korean actions, this only leaves me with more questions,” she said.