Is it Because She's A Woman?

The media has claimed Kim Yo Jong as the winner of a diplomatic arms race with the United States. Indeed, the media is in awe of Kim Yo Jong writing a warm message of reunification and shaking hands with President Moon. However, the western Media reacting so nonchalantly to Kim Yo Jong is predictable. Writing for The New York Times, Suki Kim talks about North Korea’s “lipstick diplomacy” in which North Korea uses women to craft a soft image of themselves to the entire world. Lipstick diplomacy charms South Koreans and to a lesser extent, the Western media because North Korean women acted traditionally in the international arena. Kim Yo Jong is part of the long line of North Korean women who acted traditionally and garnered praise by doing so. Writing for The New Yorker, Jiayang Fan recounts how the media portrays Kim Yo Jong so positively. But, the media treats Kim Yo Jong positively because she acted like a "proper lady." The Western media coverage of North Korea is lenient this time because Kim Yo Jong acted traditionally.

North Korean women are exoticized by South Koreans for looking and acting in the role of a traditional woman. Kim states that South Korea is easily fascinated with North Korea’s women because of their " 'pure, innocent beauty,' as if they were farm girls from the hills and not the elite from their country’s capital." What Kim means by quoting 'pure and innocent' from a South Korean news source is that North Korean women showcase a simpler time of when women acted "proper." They don’t bark back and they don’t demand. They just sit still and look pretty with natural makeup. Henceforth, the South Koreans are in awe of these women. The Western media is in awe, too.

Western media claimed Kim Yo Jong to be a winner in diplomacy because she acted "traditionally." Fan remarks over how the media treatment of Kim Yo Jong is “swift and emphatic." What Fan means by "swift and emphatic" is that she is pleased that the media is closer to treating North Koreans as humans. So, Fan joins the Western media in claiming Kim Yo Jong as “the gold medallist in the international-diplomacy competition."

But, Fan doesn’t realize that the media is praising Kim Yo Jong for being a “proper lady.” When Western media claimed Kim Yo Jong as the winner of the diplomatic forefront, what they really mean is that Kim Yo Jong acted “lady-like” in an arena full of men. In other words, she is a woman who knows her place in politics. Female world leaders tend to show their power through militaristic means like Hillary Clinton with the intervention in Libya or political decisions like Angela Merkel with the Greek austerity crisis. Kim Yo Jong is different because she just smiles and shakes hands just like what a "proper lady" would.

To sum it all up, Western media is lenient with North Korea because the country is represented by a traditional kind of femininity. Suki Kim talks about how North Korea uses the traditional kind of femininity in order to earn diplomatic points. North Korea uses the same practice with Kim Yo Jong. Jiayang Fan doesn't realize the intention and so, she goes along with the rest of the Western media in heralding Kim Yo Jong as some kind of diplomatic master. However, in all actuality, the Western media is praising Kim Yo Jong for being a "proper lady."

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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