North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un has described the South Korean pop culture, as a ‘vicious cancer’ corrupting young North Koreans’ “attire, hairstyles, speeches, behaviors.”
That has now prompted him to introduced harsher punishments for anyone caught listening to K-pop or watching dramas from the South after his state media warned that if left unchecked, it would make North Korea “crumble like a damp wall.”
The decision comes as South Korean music, television shows, and movies are enjoying unprecedented popularity around the world. The New York Times reported that state media has slammed the spread of ‘anti-socialist’ influence – particularly through South Korean movies, K-dramas and K-pop music videos – on a near-daily basis in recent months.
Kim has ordered his government to clamp down on the cultural invasion, which he said is corrupting the ‘attire, hairstyles, speeches, behaviors’ of North Korea’s youth, the paper reported.
In December, the Communist state brought in a new law that could see anyone caught watching or possessing South Korean entertainment sentenced to 15 years in a labour camp. Previously, the maximum punishment was five years of hard labour.
Those smuggling the content into North Korea could face even harsher punishments, including the death penalty.
The legislation also calls for people who ‘speak, write or sing in South Korean style’ to face up to two years of hard labour.
The moves by the secretive state came to light through Seoul lawmakers briefed by intelligence officials, and internal documents smuggled out of North Korea by the Seoul-based Daily NK news website, the Times said.
Despite a shared ethnicity and language, patterns of speech and accents in South Korea vary considerably from the North.
But phrases picked up from K-dramas have begun creeping in, with women in North Korea sometimes opting to call their boyfriends ‘oppa’ – a term used in the South that is similar to ‘honey’ in this context – rather than the approved ‘comrade’,’ The New York Times reported.
Citing North Korean government documents smuggled out by Asia Press International – a Japan-based website monitoring North Korea, the paper said that computers, text messages, and notebooks are being searched for South Korean content and vocabulary.
Families of those found to be ‘imitating the puppet accent’ from the South could be expelled from cities, the documents warned.
Kim is reported to have warned that ‘a serious change’ was underway in the ‘ideological and mental state’ of young North Koreans.
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