An 11-year-old North Korean girl has built a YouTube following by talking about ‘Harry Potter’ and water parks, and it marks a new era in her country’s propaganda style

An 11-year-old North Korean girl has built a YouTube following by talking about 'Harry Potter' and water parks, and it marks a new era in her country's propaganda style

  • North Korean YouTuber Song A uploads videos depicting an idyllic life in Pyongyang.
  • The 11-year-old says she reads “Harry Potter,” goes to water parks, and eats dessert with her best friend.
  • Experts say her channel, which has 21,000 subscribers, is likely part of an orchestrated propaganda effort.
  • If you’re a kid, North Korea is the place to be, according to 11-year-old YouTuber Song A.

    “Have you ever been to Pyongyang? Well if you come here, you’ll be totally surprised,” she says in a lilting, quasi-British accent. “Because literally wherever you go, there are amusement parks, such as Munsu Water Park, the Central Zoo, Roller Skate Park.”

    “Endless things where our children can enjoy,” she continues.

    Song A, who says she’s just finished the fifth grade, has accumulated around 21,000 YouTube subscribers in nine months with her idyllic depictions of everyday life in North Korea’s capital.

    Her channel is one of several North Korean YouTube accounts that have emerged since 2022, which researchers say are likely part of a concerted propaganda effort to rebrand the tightly restricted country’s image as a model society, CNN first reported.

    Other North Korean YouTubers have uploaded videos of themselves eating popsicles, going fishing, hitting the gym, and shopping for groceries.

    In Song A’s videos, she goes swimming and rock climbing, snacks on fruit-flavored shaved ice with her best friend, and receives dancing lessons from her aunt — all while providing commentary in English.

    Song A says she’s learned the language through the initiative of her mother. “She taught me English from a very young age. Thanks to her, I knew more than 50 English words since I started speaking,” she says.

    Her favorite book is “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone,” she adds, holding up a copy with the label “Harry Potter” written in Mandarin on its cover.

    At Pyongyang’s “Sci-Tech Complex,” she watches a 4D short film featuring dinosaurs and undersea coral reefs.

    There are telling signs that Song A’s videos may be scripted, or at least not as candid as her channel portrays. Her eyes often dart away from the camera, as though looking to someone for guidance, and she speaks as though reciting lines from a play.

    In several clips, she’s seen talking to a phone on a selfie stick, meaning a second camera is present when she films content like her first day back at school.

    North Korean YouTube channels like hers might be part of a push by Kim Jong Un to get more “creative” with propaganda techniques, Ha Seung-hee, a research professor of North Korea studies at Dongguk University, told CNN.

    “There was talk about shedding previous forms of propaganda and implementing new forms,” Ha said, per the outlet.

    The videos depict real amusement parks, coffee shops, and 4D cinemas in North Korea, but experts say it’s unlikely they represent anything close to the typical life of North Koreans. Only a select few people in the country have access to the internet, much less the tools needed to film and upload a YouTube video.

    Park Seong-cheol, a researcher at the Database Centre for North Korean Human Rights, said the facilities shown off on YouTube channels like Song A’s are only accessible to “special people in a special class,” per CNN.

    Song A’s channel could not be reached for comment. YouTube did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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