Kim Jong-un strikes down DPRK pop fans.
Amid growing cultural influence from South Korea, the 37-year-old North Korean leader is imposing stricter sanctions on citizens who are caught listening to “perverted” K-pop music.
The secret anti-K-pop campaign emerged through internal documents smuggled out of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) by Seoul-based news source Daily NK, the New York Times reported early Friday. These were then published by South Korean lawmakers.
The recently slimmed-down DPRK despot had called southern cultural imports an “evil cancer” that destroyed North Korean youths’ “dress, hairstyles, speeches, behavior”
In an apparent attempt to launch its own brand of cancellation culture, Kim introduced new laws in December, stipulating that anyone caught and viewed or possessed South Korean content could be sentenced to up to 15 years of hard work. The previous maximum penalty for fans of popular acts like BTS was five years.
If that wasn’t hard enough, K-pop smugglers could even face execution, while those caught singing, speaking or writing in a “South Korean style” could be sentenced to two years in a labor camp per capita. The smuggled documents.
In May last year, a citizen was killed via a firing squad to hack bootleg South Korean music and other entertainment.
South Korean entertainment has long been smuggled across the DPRK border, initially in cassette form and eventually as a flash drive from China. However, the “Hermit Kingdom” hunchback has increased anti-capitalist rhetoric in recent months as he sees his nation becoming more and more receptive to the cultural style of the South, the Daily Mail reported.
Meanwhile, in February, Kim – whose family has ruled the country for three generations – ordered the country’s provinces, cities and counties to squeeze in the rising capitalist influence.
North Korean state media even warned that the popular music genre could cause the nation to “crumble like a damp wall” if nothing was done.
In fact, the K-pop ban comes at a terrible time for the junk regime, whose COVID-19 lockdown further paralyzed an economy devastated by decades of mismanagement and U.S.-led sanctions over Kim’s nuclear weapons program.
In the heat of the upheaval, experts say young North Koreans are more likely to adopt outside customs and challenge Kim’s authority.
“For Kim Jong-un, the cultural invasion from South Korea has gone beyond an acceptable level,” said Jiro Ishimaru, editor-in-chief of Asia Press International, a Japanese website that reports on North Korea. “If this is not highlighted, he fears that his people may begin to consider the South as an alternative Korea to replace the North.”
North Korean millennials, who grew up during the famine of the 1990s, are particularly disillusioned with the state, which had long pushed the notion that South Korea was a beggar-infected hellhole. By watching bootlegged Korean content, they learned that while starving to death, their southern brothers were trying to shed pounds through dieting.
It’s not just listening to K-pop, it’s the problem. Recently, Korean slang has begun to infiltrate everyday conversations with North Korean women, who are increasingly calling their girlfriends “oppa” – an expression of “treasure” popular with South Korean dramas – rather than the state-run “comrade”.
To eradicate the “perverted” phenomenon, government officials have been ordered to search computers, text messages and notebooks for South Korean folklore, while people caught imitating the “puppet accent” could be banished from cities under the most secret papers.
However, it may be too late to slow down the trend. A South Korean study of 116 recent defectors showed that nearly half “often” had southern content while living in North Korea, the New York Times reported.
“Young North Koreans think they do not owe Kim Jong-un anything,” said Jung Gwang-il, a North Korean defector who smuggled K-pop into his former motherland. “He must repeat his ideological control over the youth if he does not want to lose the foundation of the future of his family’s dynastic rule.”
This is not the first time Kim has cracked down on so-called anti-socialist tendencies.
In April last year, the mushroom-haired dictator banned infamous mullets and skinny jeans in an attempt to cut off “decadent” Western-style fashion trends.