Kim Jong Un's uncle, Jang Song Thaek, was executed this week for being a traitor. In the reports surrounding Jang's death, one image that keeps popping up is the shocked faces of North Koreans reading the newspaper on these weird stands located in Pyongyang's subway terminals.
David Guttenfelder, who took the photos above, has also been documenting North Koreans' reactions on Instagram.
Information about the newspaper stands is, expectedly, scarce. It's not clear when they were built, but they do seem to be a primary source of news for many North Koreans. That news, of course, is propaganda — North Korea has one state-run news agency, KCNA, that provides information to all of North Korea's newspapers. In the above photo, North Koreans are reading from Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the ruling party. A Flickr search shows North Koreans read from the public newspaper stands often.
As Jeffrey Marlow at Wired recently revealed, Pyongyang's subway system is another one of North Korea's weird tributes to its great leader. Golden statues of both Kim Jong Un and the late Kim Jong Il sit forever waving at citizens in the stations. Typically, patriotic music plays through the speakers, but on Thursday, state-run radio was piped into the stations, trumpeting Jang's death.
Outside of the subway terminals, North Koreans watched the news on public TVs. North Korea only has four TV stations, and not all of them are available everywhere. KCTV is the "news" station.
On Sunday, KCTV showed Jang getting hauled out of a Politburo meeting to be purged. This video was replayed on Thursday as Jang's execution was reported.
The system seems to work for Kim Jong Un. One Pyongyang resident, Kim Un Song, told the Associated Press, "We trust and believe only in Marshal Kim Jong Un. Anti-revolutionary elements can't shake our faith. I don't know if there are more out there, but they will never shake our faith. It's very good that [Jang] was executed."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.