A British YouTube star has come under fire for posting a series of videos that many believe portray North Korea in a positive light. Louis Cole, a 33-year-old vlogger with about 1.8 million subscribers on his FunForLouis YouTube channel, visited North Korea in the first week of August after announcing he was going at the end of July. He has posted seven videos from his trip in the last seven days, which show him visiting an "amazing" water park, surfing and eating delicious-looking food. Judging by his videos alone, anyone would be forgiven for thinking the country is a paradise. Cole said he uploaded the videos to “combat the purely negative image” of North Korea. He doesn't mention the country's widespread human rights abuses.
Cole hasn't revealed who paid for the trip, with many social media users suggesting it was funded by the North Korean government to help it spread propaganda. Before leaving the UK, he said it had been arranged by an "organisation", adding that he'd bought a new phone, laptop and hard drive specially, The Telegraph reported. On Wednesday Cole uploaded a video responding to the criticism, in which he said there "was no truth" in the suggestion he was paid to make propaganda by the North Korean government. "I do not agree with the North Korean ideologies, but I do care for and love the people there," he said.
"I am not an investigative journalist. I don't really do political commentary and there are other places on the internet you can go to find those kinds of things," Cole added. He said he went on "an organised tour" as a tourist, before adding: "As much as we can be sceptical about how much was real and how much was staged, that is what I experienced and I can only share with you guys what I experienced." He said he wanted to "reassure" viewers that "I do know what's going on out there. I'm not being naive to it all". In 2014, the United Nations said the country's human rights violations do "not have any parallel in the contemporary world". The report said: “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.”