north korean tiktok


Is TikTok helping a North Korean propaganda account go mega-viral?

'Does the North Korean goverment reply?'


Mikael Thalen


Posted on Feb 27, 2023   Updated on Feb 27, 2023, 8:43 am CST

A TikTok account showcasing what is alleged to be everyday life in North Korea is growing rapidly in popularity, but also facing increased scrutiny from the app’s users.

The account, known simply as “Life in North Korea,” has managed to rack up over 200,000 followers and more than 3.4 million likes since uploading its first video on Feb. 9.

Of the 20 videos uploaded so far, 15 have garnered at least 1 million views. The account’s most popular video, which details the alleged account holder’s morning walk, has managed to accrue close to 30 million views in total.

“My daily morning walk in North Korea,” a text-to-speech voice says. “Very quiet and calming.”

@northkoreanlife Good morning 😊 #foryou #fyp #foryoupage #xyzbca #korea #viral #morning ♬ original sound – Life In North Korea ❤️🇰🇵

Other videos showcase everything from the subway station in the rogue nation’s capital Pyongyang to its “beautiful cable cars.”

Yet the videos, which clearly attempt to portray North Korea as a serene paradise, are being met with skepticism and jabs by TikTok users. Regardless, users can’t seem to look away.

“If you were to make this video black and white you’d probably think it’s from the 60s,” one user said regarding a video on the country’s public transport system.

In another video showing the “rural lifestyle” of farmers, which is set to peaceful piano music, users likewise weighed in on the nation’s apparent poverty.

“Those cows are emaciated,” one user said.

“North Korea has entered the feudal era,” another said

@northkoreanlife Beautiful Countryside ❤️ #foryou ##fyp##foryoupage##xyzbca##asia##korea##viral##communist ♬ nhạc nền – Nguyễn sin 🔫 – An Bình Mart

One video, where the account appears to brag about the number of umbrellas being used on the street of Pyongyang, was ridiculed especially hard.

“North Korea has umbrellas? omg im moving there now,” a user joked.

“North Korea is the only country in which you can have an umbrella woah,” a second user wrote.

@northkoreanlife So many umbrellas ☔️ #fyp #foryou #DanceWithTurboTax #viral ♬ original sound – Life In North Korea ❤️🇰🇵

The bizarre nature of the videos has led many to accuse the account of being nothing more than propaganda aimed at ignoring the squalid state of affairs in the country and its myraid human rights abuses.

Given the ties between North Korea and China, the nation where the TikTok app was founded, it’s reasonable to ask whether the account has been artificially inflated by the platform. As reported by Forbes in January, documents and sources indicated that TikTok utilizes a “heating” button that can boost videos until they’ve reached a desired view count. 

As noted by one user, the account has yet to follow any other on the platform.

“Obv a government acc, the acc not following anyone,” they wrote.

“Is that some kind of a strange government propaganda?” another said.

@northkoreanlife North Korea has many cars 🚗 #fyp #foryou #xyzbca #viral #korea #cars #mercedes #audi #hyundai ♬ The Nights – Avicii

But not all users are concerned about the account’s goals and are instead glad they’ve been offered an inside look into the Hermit Kingdom.

“Yes, I think gov account, but it’s still a sneak peak inside,” a commenter stated. “Although warped, but still interesting to me.”

It remains unclear who exactly is running the account and whether they are associated with the North Korean government. Messages sent by the Daily Dot to the account went unanswered.

Given the state of the country and current geopolitical tensions, it’s unlikely the videos will improve the world’s view of North Korean anytime soon.

But whoever is running the account sure seems to be trying.

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*First Published: Feb 27, 2023, 8:42 am CST