An exclusive report by the Wall Street Journal has uncovered an unsettling propaganda strategy in North Korea during a recent visit to the country's capital, Pyongyang.
Veteran Journal reporter John Lyons and Korean Peninsula correspondent Jonathan Cheng were granted a rare opportunity to visit the nuclear-obsessed city with its modern concrete towers that house a multitude of scientists who are always researching the latest missile and nuclear weapon technologies.
Atop one of the buildings rests a giant sculpture of a nuclear atom, towering over the city's residents as they busy themselves with daily activities on the streets below. According to Lyons and Cheng, lining the roadways are posters of atom designs featured on lamps, bridges, and buildings.
A recent addition to the Pyongyang skyline is a science and technology library, complete with numerous computer labs that are reportedly connected to North Korea's intranet that is deliberately cut off from the World Wide Web.
As the Journal reporters navigated the isolated city, they allegedly encountered an endless array of nuclear weapon imagery adorning multiple structures.
"At an orphanage, children play with plastic mobile rocket launchers instead of toy trucks. Shops sell commemorative intercontinental ballistic missile stamps, while a bakery sells cakes featuring an upright rocket, ready for launch," wrote Lyons and Cheng.
The apparent purpose of the supervised access to Pyongyang was "to signal a rare outreach campaign by the government, which has included other U.S. news organizations, to describe what it sees as the logic of its nuclear-weapons program."
According to the report, "visitors are kept under close watch" while visiting a carefully selected area of the city's economic and industrial hub.
"Handlers allowed the Journal to talk to residents encountered along the way, but translations were done by the North Koreans and it was unclear if people felt free to speak their minds."
The North Korean officials who accompanied the Journal reporters emphasized Pyongyang's nuclear proliferation as a crucial process "for defensive purposes only." Since 1953, the United States has deployed troops in South Korea, which is cited as a reason for North Korea's persistence in increasing its military armament.
As far as locals are concerned, many residents of Pyongyang were eager to tell Lyons and Cheng that they were proud of North Korea's missile technology improvements. A bartender that spoke to the journalists hoped for even more missile tests in the future.
"We will accomplish the final victory against the U.S. I wish they would launch 20 or 30 missiles a day."
Representatives of Kim Jong-un's government allegedly asked the American journalists about the inner workings of Donald Trump's White House.
"Who is Mr. Trump's chief adviser? And will Secretary of State Rex Tillerson keep his job? One official had followed the heated U.S. debate over transgender soldiers and wondered if the U.S. had many," recounted Lyons and Cheng.
[Featured Image by Jon Chol Jin/AP Images]