By ELIZABETH GELBAUGH
Kim Jong-un got fat.
According to the South Korean National Intelligence Service, the North Korean dictator has gained around 40 kg (about 88 pounds), and it has not gone unnoticed on various social media platforms in China, such as Weibo.
The weight gain spawned nicknames like “Kim the Fat,” “Kim Fat III,” “Kim Fatty III,” and “Kim III half-moon,” according to Stephen Fottrell’s blog on BBC. Needless to say, the North Korean government was not amused.
Chinese media outlets have censored readers’ comments to appease the North Korean government.
“The North Korean authorities have formally demanded that media, government officials and people from the mainland must not address leader Kim Jong-un in the future as ‘Kim the Fat,'” Hong Kong’s Apple Daily said.
“They are terrified the tyrant will find out about the insult and look for someone to blame,” Fox News World claimed.
Diplomatic relations, particularly peaceful relationships with neighboring nations, is essential in this day and age. However, when does censorship for the sake of political niceties hinder the function of media as a watchdog and critic of the government?
While it is unfortunate but true that citizens of other nations do not enjoy the same rights to freedom of speech and freedom to criticize the government that U.S. citizens do, the internet has begun to give citizens a voice in countries where traditional media is more tightly controlled by the government.
This censorship is a step back for journalism as well as freedom of expression in China. Citizens are unable to comment on or voice disapproval for Kim, even if it is merely centered on his appearance. Media has resumed its submissive role to the government by sacrificing the opinions of citizens to pacify a foreign dictator.