Censoring Body Shaming
Is it ever okay to pick on somebody?
Following an especially pernicious election, many of us are guilty of having picked on a given candidate for his or her faults and shortcomings, or for insulting their wives and families. But politicians, much like celebrities, face the risk of public embarrassment and criticism the second they put themselves in the limelight; this is the price of fame.
Regardless of an individual’s disputed policies and platforms, racist and misogynistic comments and beliefs, or just plain nasty attitude, does that make it okay for us to make fun of their orange skin, overly long ties, bulging bellies, or thin hair? The jury is still out on that one, but at the very least, we’re lucky to have the freedom of speech in the United States to criticize our leaders.
Now imagine you live in a dark, secretive, authoritarian state— you may not have to even work too hard to picture one. What if you couldn’t speak out against the government, especially not against the supreme leader, without the fear of imprisonment or death? Sadly, that’s the case for millions of people around the world.
In North Korea, however, the stakes are especially high, and the cult of personality around Kim Jong-un so great that diplomats are now reaching out to China begging them to stop body-shaming the portly leader.
When you think of China and North Korea, the thought of censorship is not far behind.
Reporters Without Borders have ranked China’s freedom of press as “very serious,” as the Communist Party of China strictly censors online content, often for political reasons. According to the US organization Freedom House, “state control over the news media in China is achieved through a complex combination of party monitoring news content, legal restrictions on journalists, and financial incentives for self-censorship.”
The situation is even worse in North Korea, a country that routinely ranks among the worst in the world in terms of freedom of speech and press. All legal news in the country comes from the Korean Central News Agency, a state-controlled media agency largely dedicated to political propaganda. Were every citizen in North Korea fully aware of the reality they live in as well as what life is like in the rest of the world, the results would likely be disastrous for the current regime.
But now, China is even censoring its own internet in favor of the North Korean ruler Kim Jong-un.
Kim Fatty III
Don’t let his cherubic cheeks and innocent smile fool you.
As Chairman of the Workers’ Party and supreme leader of North Korea, 32-year-old Kim Jong-un is the single most accountable person for the atrocities and human rights violations that take place in his country. Though our foggy perception of the isolated country is almost certainly biased by Western media, research and defectors’ accounts do show egregious violations against human dignity, easily demonstrated by the confirmed existences of prison camps and labor camps.
Regardless of the monstrous operation he runs, Kim Jong-un is an easy target. His unique hair, young features, and portly build make him the butt of many jokes, especially in China, where he has famously been dubbed “Kim Fatty III.”
Needles to say, the North Korean government was not happy about this scurrilous sobriquet.
No Results Found
Since Kim Jong-un came to power in 2011, seeing him called “Kim Fatty III” or jin san pang in China was extremely common. Following a recent meeting between Chinese and North Korean officials, however, all search results for that nickname have disappeared.
When searching for the term on Weibo, similar to Twitter, it produced an error code that said “According to relevant laws and policies, the search results of ‘jin san pang‘ have not been shown.” Baidu, similar to Google, produced a similar lack of results.
Still, the Chinese populace has found a way around the new censorship…