What’s Up With Vice’s North Korean Obsession?


Billionaire and co-founder of Vice Media, Shane Smith, has been obsessed with North Korea since 2006, the same year the magazine made its move to multiple digital platforms.

On the surface Vice seems like a harmless outlet aimed at shallow hipsters in the West. Their ventures into political and geopolitical analysis and investigation, however, have serious implications.

By painting North Korea, officially known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or DPRK, as a “mysterious kingdom” and badly misrepresenting all aspects of life and society in the country, Vice has gained millions of views. Amassing followers through yellow journalism, though, is just one of the reasons for their craze.

Check out this example.

After analyzing Vice from a more profound context, however, we could say it serves as one of many propaganda arms for North American and European imperialist objectives.

There’s even proof of them working directly for Western imperialist powers, rejecting claims that they are an “independent” media outlet. Not only do they have an openly imperialist narrative, they go above and beyond to make the DPRK seem insane and alien.

Like Dr. Zak Cope states in his book “Divided World Divided Class,” Western racism and prejudices cannot be pinned down simply to “ignorance.” The nature of the global capitalist system means that the West has a material interest in pushing racist and prejudiced narratives on nations of the Global South. Particularly on the peoples of the Third World who are pursuing a different political and economic path from that which the capitalist world powers enforce around the world.

Within this context, one is able to understand that Vice and its billionaire owner does not simply discriminate, smearing the DPRK out of ignorance and sensationalism to gain viewers to his platform. But, on a more broader material sense, does so to maintain the global capitalist status quo.

The vile propaganda spread by Vice on this socialist nation has everything to do with an attempt to guarantee that peoples of the Global South are seen as ridiculous and alien when they wish to live independently from the West.

Underneath it all there is a general understanding, if not by the Western population at large then by their political and economic elites, that they need a Global South which is the exact opposite of the DPRK. A Global South that continues to allow Western capitalist-imperialists to exploit their lands and peoples.

If you had to personify Vice Media, you could imagine it as the offspring of a Fox News and CNN fan: an entitled white millennial in denial about their privilege and who’s embarrassed of their older parents’ more old fashioned, naked and openly racist approach.

Ultimately, Vice Media should just stick to weed stories.

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