North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has called K-Pop a “vicious cancer” that corrupts the youth of the country he leads. As a result, it imposes tougher penalties on citizens who consume South Korean K-pop movies, K-dramas and videos.
The New York Times detailed the covert anti-K-pop campaign which came to light through leaked internal documents from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). The news was originally reported by Seoul-based news source Daily NK.
State media criticized the spread of “anti-socialist” influence, which allegedly corrupted “the dress, hairstyles, speeches, behavior” of young North Koreans. In an attempt to regain control, Kim ordered his government to crack down on these alleged anti-socialist tendencies.
North Korea has been one of the most repressive authoritarian regimes in the world for more than 70 years.
Jiro Ishimaru, editor-in-chief of the Japanese site Asia International Press, monitors the activities of North Korea. He said Kim believed South Korea’s “cultural invasion” had passed a tolerable level.
“If this is not controlled, he fears that his people will start to see the South as an alternative Korea to replace the North,” Ishimaru said.
K-pop fans are notoriously social media savvy and have wielded their power against right-wing American entities over the past year or so. Such activity surfaced last June when fans took up the #whitelivesmatter hashtag on Twitter, filling it with posts from K-pop stars, and later in the month they went on to take credit for themselves. disrupted President Trump’s rally in Oklahoma by booking tickets they had no intention of using, falsely inflating organizers’ expectations for an event that ended in an audience well below expectations. Various hashtags and other activities followed.
It seems likely that North Korean government properties could be a target for these fans in the coming days.
Kim introduced a series of new laws in December that increased the penalty for watching or owning South Korean entertainment from five years of forced labor to 15 years in a labor camp. Its state media warned that if these influences were left unchecked, North Korea would “crumble like a wet wall.” Those who smuggle South Korean content face even tougher penalties, including the death penalty.
“Young North Koreans think they owe Kim Jong-un nothing,” Jung Gwang-il, a defector who smuggles K-pop to North Korea, said in the New York Times article. . “He must reaffirm his ideological control over the young if he does not want to lose the foundations for the future of his family’s dynastic regime.