Thursday 29 September 2016

YouTube blogger criticised after videos showed North Korea as 'cool and wonderful'

Lydia Willgress

Published 18/08/2016 | 11:06

Pyongyang skyline. Photo: Deposit
Pyongyang skyline. Photo: Deposit

A British video blogger has been criticised by social media users after posting a series of videos appearing to show North Korea as a paradise.

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Louis Cole, who has nearly 2 million subscribers on his FunForLouis YouTube channel as well as more than 815,000 Twitter followers, came under fire after uploading footage from a week-long trip to the country.

One video showed Mr Cole surfing with local children before enjoying a barbecue on the beach. Another showed the vlogger, who also has 1.4 million Instagram followers, enjoying a water park in the country.

One video showed Mr Cole surfing with local children before enjoying a barbecue on the beach. Another showed the vlogger, who also has 1.4 million Instagram followers, enjoying a water park in the country.

Mr Cole, 33, announced the trip at the end of July before travelling to North Korea in the first week of August.

Before leaving the UK, he described it as “probably the most daring travel adventure I’ve ever been a part of”. He also revealed he bought a new phone, laptop and hard drive for the trip, which he said had been arranged by an “organisation”.

In 2014, the United Nations wrote in a 400-page report that the human rights violations occurring in North Korea do “not have any parallel in the contemporary world”.

he report added: “These crimes against humanity entail extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence… the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation.”

Mr Cole’s posts, which he said were uploaded to “combat the purely negative image” of the country, were all published in the past week.

One online commentator said they believed some clips had been “calculated … to show the country in a positive light”. Another wrote underneath the day two video: “I think Louis is a bit uneducated about what North Korea is really like.” One claimed he was “spreading lies” and another said, "This video is such propaganda and Louis doesn't realise it". A commentator criticised him for saying "how cool and wonderful a place it is", adding that the videos were "a travelogue as seen through the eyes of an unwitting child".

But others supported the trip, saying Mr Cole was showing "positivity". One person wrote on Twitter: "Glad to see you back safe. Inspired by you to travel the world. Keep up the great vibes."

Mr Cole, who often travels on marketing campaigns for big brands, last night insisted he was “not naive” and vehemently denied he was being paid by the North Korean government.

In his latest YouTube video, titled My Response, he said: “I do not agree with the North Korean ideologies but I do care for, and love, the people there."

He added: “We went on an organised tour, so the same kind of tour anyone going there as a tourist would experience, and as much as we can be sceptical about what was real and what was staged ... I could only share with you guys what I experienced.

“The assumption I made, which may have been wrong of me, was that people watching my vlogs would have already had a broader perspective on North Korea. I do know what is going on out there.”

A spokesman for Mr Cole added: "Louis' videos are an extension of himself, capturing his personal views and experiences of the people, cultures and places he visits.  Rather than taking a journalistic approach, Louis chooses to focus on the positive aspects of his adventures.

"This is fuelled by his belief that there is beauty to be found wherever one might go, for those who are adventurous enough to look for it."

Telegraph.co.uk

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