Social Media as Vernacular Politics : YouTube Channels by North Korean Defectors in South Korea

Jinhee PARK*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Book Chapters | Papers in Conference ProceedingsBook ChapterResearchpeer-review


As of October 2020, the second-most viewed website on the internet, after Google Search, is YouTube. As media production technology has become accessible to individuals and information technology has accelerated the global distribution of web content, YouTube has become the most popular means to circulate video content, and even amateurs can easily make and share videos. North Korean defectors who have settled in South Korea during the last two decades have joined the wave of YouTube content creators - there are more than
50 YouTube channels hosted by North Korean defectors living in South Korea. Among these, ten channels have received the 'Silver Creator Award', YouTube's award for channels that reach or surpass l 00,000 subscribers. This award is not based on any nation-state, but for the pure number of global subscriptions. Considering that there a re 33,000 Korean defectors in South Korea, the global popularity of these You Tube channels is significant. In addition, as You Tube is a media platform that accommodates the agency of individual content makers, these defectors' media production is a meaningful representation of their independent expression. This chapter examines how North Korean defectors use YouTube as a network to express their cultural and political identities, and to exercise agency in Korea's globality. Particularly, the North Korean YouTubers in this chapter expand the notion of human rights by familiarizing their South
Korean citizenship, and defamiliarizing the stereotype of North Korea(n) in global context. The participation of North Korean defectors on the global platform of YouTube facilitates the reciprocity in the inter-Korean relations as well as a global encounter with the North Korean defectors.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationKorea and the Global Society
EditorsYonson AHN
PublisherRoutledge Taylor & Francis Group
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781000824223
ISBN (Print)9781003301127
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2023
Externally publishedYes


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