Those North Korean Cheerleaders are Way Too Happy, but why?

With the Winter Olympics well underway, there have been many comments on social media that portray the happenings of the event. One of the more popular topics I’ve seen is on the North Korean cheerleaders. Hundreds of women, dressed in red athletic attire were placed within the stadium where they sang their happy cheers and accompanied them with precise and rhythmic movements. These cheerleaders were another element added to the olympics to make the experience more enjoyable for all, or so I thought.

Obviously, I know of the horror that people are facing within North and South Korea, but these cheerleaders genuinely looked happy. I thought maybe they were the ones that made it out and they were simply enjoying their time at the olympics surrounded by their friends. While scrolling through twitter, I saw a few videos of these cheerleaders performing with funny captions. This video was turned into a meme and circulated around twitter in a joking manner. When I saw this tweet by VICE News, I originally ignored it as I thought it was just another meme. After re-reading the caption, I was very surprised to see someone reporting seriously on this case.

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This video was captioned “After a 2005 performance, 21 members of North Korea’s cheer squad were sent to a prison camp for speaking about what they saw in South Korea.” It portrayed footage of the cheerleading team throughout the years, dating back as early as 2002. This was when these cheerleaders made their first appearance. While the video itself reiterated what was said in the caption, it mostly mentioned the current situations of the cheerleaders. I wanted to know more about the claim that was made within the tweet. This is when I decided it was time to take it to google.

The first thing I typed into Google was “North Korean Cheerleading Squad” in hopes of getting some background information before I tried to discover the truth of this claim. The results came pouring in, and news reporters throughout the world were trying to discover and report information on this group of cheerleaders. This topic was so hot that reporters were making articles about each and everything they could when it came to this cheerleading squad.

I decided to click on the first few results, just to see what was out there. The first one I stumbled upon was called “The darker side of North Korea’s perfectly timed cheerleadersWhile this wasn’t an official news site, but rather someone’s personal website on wordpress, it was able to provide some background information. This website is the first place that introduced the idea that the cheerleading squad is used as a “charm offensive.” Zoe Drewett, the author of the article, also stated that “They are reportedly even supervised when they go to the toilet and eat breakfast – not making a move without at least one other North Korean teammate with them as well as a South Korean government monitor.” Since this website wasn’t “official”, I decided to move on.

The next link I discovered was titled “For the North Koreans in Pyeongchang, there is a limit on human connection.I found this article on “thestar.com” and it seemed to have a good deal of information off of first glance. This article took the chance to describe some of the olympic athletes first-hand and other countries athlete’s opinions of them. It introduced the same information we found in the last post about how they’re strictly monitored. It then introduced the same claim we’re exploring. “In 2006, South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo reported that 21 North Korean cheerleaders who attended sporting events in South Korea in either 2002, 2003, or 2004 had been sent to a prison camp for speaking about what they had seen.” This sentence showed that the year it happened wasn’t even confirmed, but it contained a hyperlink to an article about this information.

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Following the hyperlink that was located within the last article, I found an article titled “twenty-one North Korean cheerleaders imprisoned” which was posted by TAIPEI times, located in Seoul. This was posted February 18th, 2006. It seemed to be the hard-copy version of the newspaper claim that was made. It included this sentence: “citing a North Korean man who recently fled to China, South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper said the 21 young women had been detained about last November in the same prison camp where the man had been held.” So this article was written on a claim that was made by a North Korean man who recently fled to China. Solid Evidence? Or not. The very next line was “South Korea’s National Intelligence Service didn’t immediately confirm or deny the report.” This clearly isn’t getting me anywhere. All of these claims were made based off of someone’s memory.

I decided to take it upon myself to find the Chosun Ilbo news report. I typed into google “Chosun Ilbo cheerleaders arrested” but only articles from the current olympics were surfacing. I added in 2006 and found exactly what I was looking for. “N.Korean Cheerleaders Banished to Camps” was posted on February 16th, 2006. This article used names and specific instances to describe the situation. Exactly what I needed to start finding solid information.

It started off stating that Lee Myeong-ho was the man who escaped to China that reported this claim, but something that helped to solidify this claim was that he was a former inmate with the cheerleaders. Lee explained that inmates weren’t allowed to talk to each other, so he wasn’t able to confirm that they were imprisoned because they talked about South Korea, but that was the rumor that was going around.

Another defector explained the cheerleaders are picked among university students, propaganda squad members and music school students from good families. Before they were sent to South Korea, they had to sign a pledge bearing their 10 fingerprints that says if they are going to an enemy country — Pyongyang’s epithet for the South — they must fight as soldiers of leader Kim Jong-il and never talk about what they have seen or heard in South Korea once they return. They agree to accept punishment if they break the promise.

While this fact-check in no way allowed us to confirm why the North Koreans cheerleaders went to prison, we were able to confirm that 21 cheerleaders were sent to prison based on some level of betrayal. Through the persistent searching and referring to links within articles, we were able to discover the real deal on the North Korean cheerleaders. Now, when I see them acting all happy and cheery on my TV, I will know that I should feel sorry for them, as they aren’t able to live fully.

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[DRAFT] Those North Korean Cheerleaders are way too happy, but why? [DRAFT]

I’ve seen videos of these North Korean cheerleaders, as I’m sure most have, and was in awe of how precise and sharp their moves were. Hundreds of women, dressed in red athletic attire were placed within the stadium in order to add another elementy to the olympics, or so I thought. I know of the horror that people are facing within North and South Korea, but these cheerleaders genuinely looked happy. I thought maybe they were the ones that made it out and they were simply enjoying their time at the olympics surrounded by their friends. While scrolling through twitter, I saw a few videos of these cheerleaders performing with funny captions. So when I saw this tweet by VICE News, I was little surprised to see someone reporting seriously on this case.

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This video captioned “After a 2005 performance, 21 members of North Korea’s cheer squad were sent to a prison camp for speaking about what they saw in South Korea” portrayed footage of the cheerleading team throughout the years, dating back as early as 2002 which was when they first appeared. While the video mentioned what was said in the caption, it focused more on the current situations of the cheerleaders instead. This is when I decided it was time to take it to google.

The first thing I typed in was “North Korean Cheerleading Squad” in hopes of getting some background information before I tried to discover the truth of this claim. The results came pouring in, and news reporters throughout the country were trying to discover and report information on this group of cheerleaders that is unlike anything we’ve ever seen.

I decided to click on the first few results, just to see what was out there. The first one I stumbled upon was called “The darker side of North Korea’s perfectly timed cheerleadersWhile this wasn’t an official news site, but rather someone’s personal website on wordpress, it was able to provide some background information. This website is the first place that introduced the idea that the cheerleading squad is used as a “charm offensive.” Zoe Drewett, the author of the article, also stated that “They are reportedly even supervised when they go to the toilet and eat breakfast – not making a move without at least one other North Korean teammate with them as well as a South Korean government monitor.” Since this website wasn’t official, I decided to move on.

The next link I discovered was titled “For the North Koreans in Pyeongchang, there is a limit on human connection.” I found this article on “thestar.com” and it seemed to have a good deal of information off of first glance. This article took the chance to describe some of the olympic athletes themselves and other countries athlete’s opinions of them. It introduced the same information we found in the last post about how they’re strictly monitored. It then introduced the same claim we’re exploring. “In 2006, South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo reported that 21 North Korean cheerleaders who attended sporting events in South Korea in either 2002, 2003, or 2004 had been sent to a prison camp for speaking about what they had seen.” This sentence showed that the year it happened wasn’t even confirmed, but it contained a hyperlink to an article about this information.

cheealreaders

This article titled “twenty-one North Korean cheerleaders imprisoned” was posted by TAIPEI times, located in Seoul. This was posted February 18th, 2006. It seemed to be the hard-copy version of the newspaper claim that was made. It then moved on to the sentence “citing a North Korean man who recently fled to China, South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper said the 21 young women had been detained about last November in the same prison camp where the man had been held.” So this article was written on a claim that was made by a North Korean man who recently fled to China. Solid Evidence? Or not. The very next line was “South Korea’s National Intelligence Service didn’t immediately confirm or deny the report.” This isn’t getting me anywhere. All of these claims were made based off of someone’s memory.

I decided to take it upon myself to find the Chosun Ilbo news report. I typed into google “Chosun Ilbo cheerleaders arrested” but only articles from the current olympics were surfacing. I added in 2006 and found exactly what I was looking for. “N.Korean Cheerleaders Banished to Camps” was posted on February 16th, 2006. This article used names and specific instances to describe the situation.

It started off stating that Lee Myeong-ho was the man who escaped to China that reported this claim, but something that helped to solidify this claim was that he was a former inmate with the cheerleaders. Lee explained that inmates weren’t allowed to talk to each other, so he wasn’t able to confirm that they were imprisoned because they talked about South Korea, but that was the rumor that was going around.

“Another defector explained the cheerleaders are picked among university students, propaganda squad members and music school students from good families. Before they were sent to South Korea, they had to sign a pledge bearing their 10 fingerprints that says if they are going to an enemy country — Pyongyang’s epithet for the South — they must fight as soldiers of leader Kim Jong-il and never talk about what they have seen or heard in South Korea once they return. They agree to accept punishment if they break the promise.”

While this fact-check in no way allowed us to confirm why the North Koreans cheerleaders went to prison, we were able to confirm that 21 cheerleaders were sent to prison based on some level of betrayal. Through the persistent searching and referring to links within articles, we were able to discover the real deal on the North Korean cheerleaders. Now, when I see them acting all happy and cheery on my TV, I will know that I should feel sorry for them, as they aren’t able to live fully.

Fact Check 5: Ebola, Bird Songs, and Prison? Oh my!

When searching for some claims to use for my Truth-o-meter post, I figured that I would dive into the world of Twitter. Some tweets that go viral are for the most outlandish claims that somehow either turn out to be true or completely false, no in between. I decided to seek some tweets that would be current and involve a lot of information available for research. These are 3 tweets that I stumbled upon.

 

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While all of these claims come from different aspects and areas of current world situations, they happen to all be topics that can be explored among many platforms. These claims have all come from twitter and have been retweeted and spread amongst many users. For this information to be false, it would cause a lot of havoc within the twitter community.

Fact Check 4: A Glass of Wine a Day Keeps the Doctor Away?

I decided to take the approach and type in “recent study” into google news. I had to click through a few pages before I found a news article that interested me, but I finally found one. “Why Drinking Two Glasses  Of Wine A Day Is Actually Good For Your Mind, According To This New Study.” Obviously I had to click on this, because wine. This article was posted by “Romper.com” and refers to a plethora of studies within the article, not just one like the title suggests.

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Upon reading the article, I decided to click on every link that was placed within. The first link within the first paragraph seemed like it had the most relevance to the situation. “Drinking alcohol can clear brain waste, study finds” was posted on medicalnewstoday.com by Honor Whiteman. Underneath the author it states that it was fact checked by Jasmin Collier. I thought this was a good sign for the article, but I couldn’t guarantee just from these small factors.

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The first words of the article were “in a mouse study…” That was all I had to read. The idea of testing whether alcohol is beneficial for people or not on a mouse didn’t sit right with me. I understand the measuring of the mouse’s brain and comparing it to a humans, but obviously we are completely different. Also, can you imagine a mouse just drinking a big glass of wine??

After sucking it up and reading into the rest of this study, It seemed as if the article was simply proving the bad things that over-drinking can do rather than talking about the original study mentioned. Obviously this passed fact-checks since over-drinking in no way, shape, or form is a good thing.

Going into google trying to find out whether this website has reported false information or not was my next step. Did they always beat around the bush of their click-bait-y titles, or was this just an irregular situation. Of course, the first result that appeared was from MedicalNewsToday itself claiming that they are a reputable website. This left me thinking that this question must be asked a lot in order for them to put it on their actual website.

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Digging deeper into the world of google searches, it was hard to find many reviews of the website’s credibility. The few websites I could find had to do with customer or audience reviews of the website and reflecting on that. It didn’t seem that there were many professionals who looked into it. That being said, there also didn’t seem to be any complaints about the news component. While I don’t agree with their writing style, it seemed as if the original source provided correct information about this study.

Going back to TheRomper article, it seems as if this article seemed to do the same thing. With very few paragraphs talking about the benefits of drinking, it mostly focused on the downfalls of drinking. It seems as if the rest of the sources were from “MayoClinic” another reputable source. Overall, it seems as if although the information provided does not directly apply to the title that it is given, the information is still “correct.”

Fact Check #3: TheBlaze or TheDaze?

When it comes to news sources in media, it’s often hard to find sources that contain no bias or false information. While many audiences aren’t able to identify whether a source should be distrusted or not, there are many ways to find out. For example, there is a website called TheBlaze.com. According to “The Question” it was “founded by well-known media personality Glenn Beck, The Blaze is a conservative multi-media TV, radio and internet platform.”

 

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Glenn Beck, the creator of TheBlaze

 

When trying to do a reliability check on this website, the results were neverending. Just by a simple search in google with the words of “TheBlaze reliability” I was able to find many sources stating how much trust should be placed in TheBlaze. While most of the pages stated the same information with limited wording, great detail was provided.

The first result to pop up was “Mediabiasfactcheck.com.” This website seemed perfect for the information I was seeking, and I was right. One of the first things I saw when clicking on this site was a scale which determined if TheBlaze was more extreme left or extreme right. With big bold letters underneath the scale, the words “RIGHT BIAS” were clear.Screen Shot 2018-02-05 at 7.14.01 AM

While it was clearly determined that this website was leaning towards the right, on the scale it appears as if it is just on the edge of being extreme right.

After moving on from the image I read into the summary which stated “These media sources are moderately to strongly biased toward conservative causes through story selection and/or political affiliation. They may utilize strong loaded words (wording that attempts to influence an audience by using appeal to emotion or stereotypes), publish misleading reports and omit reporting of information that may damage conservative causes. Some sources in this category may be untrustworthy.” This tells us how Beck can portray his bias information.

The next result I looked at was called “Here Are The Most- And Least-Trusted News Outlets in America” from “BusinessInsider.com.” While this article didn’t go into textual detail about any specific website, another image was provided for people to discover the bias with ease. This chart explained the “Trust Levels of News Sources by Ideological Groups.” They range from more trusted than distrusted, about equally trusted as distrusted, and more distrusted than trusted. TheBlaze rated more distrusted than trusted under the categories of consistently liberal and more liberal, about equally as trusted as distrusted under mixed and more trusted than distrusted under mostly conservative and consistently conservative. This leads to the total bias of TheBlaze being rated as more trusted than distrusted.Screen Shot 2018-02-05 at 7.24.15 AM.png

While it obviously depends on the audience to choose whether they want to believe the news source they are being presented, it can be determined that this website is biased towards the right.

Fact Check #2: Pope Francis Dances Merengue?

A common phrase during our middle school dances was “Keep Room for Jesus,” so when I saw a video of Pope Francis dancing merengue on my Facebook timeline, I didn’t think twice. While not everyone is religious, most people adore Pope Francis for his charming wit and generous love. This video seemed to be filmed on a dance floor at a party or bar and it focuses on Pope Francis and his dance partner.

Being as I myself am not an expert in the dancing field, I obviously didn’t know what type of dance they were doing in this video. I simply went to google and typed in “Pope Francis Dancing.” Low and behold, the very first result to pop up was a snopes.com result. It read “Is This Pope Francis Dancing Merengue? A viral video purportedly showing Pope Francis Dancing merengue actually shows a lookalike at a Halloween party. Well, Snopes included all of the information I even needed in the title and subtitle. Thanks, Snopes.

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Even though I knew off the bat that this wasn’t really Pope Francis getting down on the dance floor, I was curious as to why this video was spread without the dire information that this was a costume party.

After reading the Snopes.com article I found some information that made me facepalm since I didn’t catch it myself. One of the first points that were made was that there were literally Halloween decorations in the back. The appearance of giant spiders and cobwebs was ignored by many because of their amazement of the Pope, but with a close eye, one would be able to see this. Snopes.com also provided information about the original post that I saw on Facebook.

The original poster, Fredy Gonzalez, joked “that the video showed the ‘reality of the Pope’s visit’ to Colombia.” While avid Pope Francis fans could figure out that it wasn’t actually him due to the difference in height and age, many others were tricked into believing this caption and then shared it to grasp the attention of their friends. When others started commenting about this not actually being Pope Francis Gonzalez decided to put the rumor to rest. 

“Haha don’t get bitter that it’s fake. The Pope is Argentine — why would he dance with that Colombian flavor?” – Fredy Gonzalez

The next site I went to get information on was “Business2community.com.” I didn’t expect to find a lot more information since the Snopes article was pretty detailed, and I was right. Reading through this article, it directly referenced and quoted Snopes. The only detail that was added to this site was what the Pope was actually doing at this time.

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The next link was on Reddit which contained a posting of the video with no caption or description. It said it was shared 2 months ago, although I haven’t heard of the circulation of this video until recently. While this Reddit page had a lack of comments, there was one that stated: “spoiler alert its a lookalike at a Halloween party.” The poster, Calexii was able to identify this before Snopes!

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This video now has 9.1M views and a comment from the original poster that this is not, in fact, Pope Francis. While personally, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that Pope Francis has crazy dance skills, I don’t think he’d be doing the meringue down in Italy anytime soon.

Fact-check #1: NFL Rejects Veteran Commercial?

After scrolling through Facebook I saw a status made by my friend’s dad that introduced the idea of the NFL rejecting a commercial about a Veterans group trying to spread the message of standing up during the national anthem. The status included the personal bias of the person writing it since he stated his clear opinion that this was not justice. Since I thought that there was obviously a lot of bias within this claim, I was hesitant to believe whether it was true or not.

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Deciding to fact check this claim was pretty easy since it was such a relevant topic and the super bowl is coming up quickly. I decided that the first place I would check was Snopes.com. It was under the “What’s New” page and quickly gave me the information I was seeking. Although the NFL and other sports platforms agreed that freedom of speech was important from both sides the had a valid argument. 

The NFL has “never been a place for advertising that could be considered by some as a political statement. The NFL has long supported the military and veterans and will again salute our service members in the Super Bowl with memorable on-field moments that will be televised as part of the game.” – NFL Spokesman Brian McCarthy

This same ad was approved by both the NHL and NBA for use in the all-star games.

While I found out that this claim was true with ease, I still wanted to dive deeper to see the extremes that were reached through this commercial. This time I decided to go straight to Google and see what results this search engine came up with.

The first article that came up was from Washington Post. It was titled “NFL rejects veterans group’s ad for Super Bowl program.” As I began reading I realized that this was the exact article that I read on snopes.com. The title was also the same. This didn’t lead me to any new information, but rather made me more skeptical since both of the articles that I read were word for word the same.

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Going back to Google I clicked on the second result to see if this would be any different. This one was also from the Washington Post, but it was called “NFL’s rejection of veterans’ Super Bowl ad has some crying hypocrisy.” While this wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, I decided to dive in to see if it could give me any more additional information. This article explained that there were many groups that were forming together to bring to attention that the NFL has accepted other “politically-sensitive” commercials before this one. While I agree that people should be able to stand or sit as they please, I also agree that with that freedom of speech the freedom of speech for commercials should also be present.

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Through the deep-reading of this article, I was able to find that the NFL turned away this commercial but in turn asked for the phrase to be changed from “Please Stand” to “Please Stand for the Veterans.” This information provided a clearer and more believable explanation, rather than the NFL simply stating that just because they didn’t agree with the message it wouldn’t be aired.