Based on in-depth interviews and analysis of news content, Dr. Seo looks into the causes of journalistic errors in coverage of North Korea, focusing on erroneous reports of seven prominent North Koreans between 2012 and 2019. Existing research shows that domestic interests and ideology greatly influence international reporting, with journalists relying heavily on elite sources. However, she finds that the journalistic errors did not originate exclusively from South Korean and American media, finding that Japanese, American and Chinese media have also become part of the ecology in which misinformation circulates. The clicks and revenue generated by salacious North Korea-related stories make them especially susceptible to distortion. Even after such stories were proven erroneous, corrections were rarely issued, with journalists conceding they do not think of North Korea as a subject worthy of clarification.
Soomin Seo is an assistant professor of journalism in the Klein College of Media and Communication at Temple University. She received her PhD in communications at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, and studied public policy at Harvard University. Her work looks into news institutions and journalistic practices in North America and East Asia. Seo has also written about international reporting, news agency journalism, journalism history and news policy. She is the co-editor of a special issue of International Journal of Communication on North Korea and Communication.