Date: June 13, 2021
“Across the border, there’s growing fandom for South Korean music and tv shows.
Authorities in Pyeongyang is responding by cracking down on those who access select foreign media concents, saying such violations are punishable by death.
Kim Dami has the full story.
Sentenced to many years in a labor camp, being ridiculed on a public stage or forced to move to the countryside — these are known to be routine punishments for enjoying K-pop and K-dramas in North Korea.
Yet people in the reclusive state still try to get their hands on smuggled media.
“When there’s a crackdown, USB sticks are small so they’re easy to hide. You could toss it in the stove or put it in your mouth. When you want to do something and they tell you you can’t… you want to do it more.”
The craving for foreign entertainment in North Korea under censorship… has grown so strong now that the Kim Jong-un regime has clamped down further with a new law giving the death penalty to anyone caught with media from South Korea, the U.S. or Japan. If not death, then prison camp for 15 years.
In fact, Kim Jong-un has recently called K-pop a “vicious cancer” corrupting young North Koreans’ clothes, hairstyles and way of speaking.
The punishments for watching bootlegged entertainment from the South are notably harsher than those for other foreign media,… especially under the current leadership.
“Through these crackdowns, the North is trying to prove the superiority of socialism in the competition between the systems of the two Koreas, and to show off Kim Jong-un’s leadership, which is a strategic move aimed at strengthening internal solidarity.”
The young leader may also see foreign influence as a threat to his grip on power.
The expert added that despite the punishments prescribed, it will still be easy to access foreign media through the North’s unofficial market places called Jangmadang, which will continue to satisfy people’s curiosity and give them access to a culture that they find similar to their own.
And according to sources familiar with the North, demand for foreign entertainment has grown even stronger… as people spend more time at home because of the pandemic.
Kim Dami, Arirang News.”
Executing people for importing K-pop?…
…That’s a heck of a thing.