Kim Jong Un is cracking down on DPRK pop fans.
Against the backdrop of growing cultural influence from South Korea, the 37-year-old North Korean leader is imposing harsher punishments on citizens caught listening to “perverted” K-pop music.
The secret anti-pop campaign came to light through domestic documents smuggled from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) by the Seoul-based news source Daily NK, the New York Times reported for the first time on Friday. They were then made public by South Korean lawmakers.
The recently weakened DPRK despot had called southern cultural imports a “vicious cancer” that corrupted “the clothing, hairstyles, speeches, behavior of North Korean youth, and dancing in the ̵
In an apparent bid to launch its own brand of culture of abolition, in December Kim introduced new laws that provided that anyone caught watching or possessing South Korean content could be sentenced to up to 15 years of hard labor. The previous maximum penalty for fans of popular action such as BTS was five years.
If this was not severe enough, K-pop smugglers could even face execution, while those caught singing, speaking or writing in the “South Korean style” could be sentenced to two years in a labor camp, according to smuggled documents.
Last May, a citizen was killed by a shooting for South Korean hawk music and other entertainment.
South Korean entertainment has long been smuggled across the DPRK border, initially in the form of a cassette and eventually as flash drives from China. However, the Huncho of the Hermit Kingdom has intensified anti-capitalist rhetoric in recent months as he sees his nation become more susceptible to cultural stylists from the South, according to the Daily Mail.
Meanwhile, in February, Kim – whose family has ruled the country for three generations – ordered the country’s provinces, cities and counties to give up growing capitalist influence.
North Korean state media even warn that the popular music genre could cause the nation to collapse like a damp wall if something is not done.
In fact, the ban on K-pop comes at a terrible time for a fraudulent regime whose blockade of COVID-19 has further crippled an economy shaken by decades of mismanagement and US-led sanctions over Kim’s nuclear weapons program.
In the midst of the turmoil, experts say young North Koreans are more likely to accept out of customs and challenge Kim’s authority.
“For Kim Jong Un, the cultural invasion from South Korea has exceeded the permissible level,” said Jiro Ishimaru, editor-in-chief of Asia Press International, a Japanese website that reports on North Korea. “If this is not repealed, he fears that his people may begin to see the South as an alternative Korea to replace the North.”
The North Korean millennia, which grew up during the famine of the 1990s, are particularly disappointed with the country, which has long pushed the idea that South Korea is infected with a beggar hole. Watching bottled Korean content, they learned that while starving to death, their southern brothers were trying to lose weight through dieting.
The problem is not just listening to K-pop. Recently, Korean jargon has begun to permeate everyday conversation with North Korean women, who increasingly call their boyfriends “oppa,” a term for “honey” popularized by South Korean dramas rather than the state mandate “comrade.”
To eradicate the “perversion” phenomenon, government officials have been ordered to search computers, text messages and South Korean vernacular notebooks, while people imitating a “puppet accent” could be expelled from cities, according to top-secret documents.
However, it may be too late to limit the trend. A South Korean study of 116 recent deserters found that nearly half often “enjoyed” southern content while in the DPRK, the New York Times reported.
“Young North Koreans don’t think they owe anything to Kim Jong Un,” said Jung Guang-il, a North Korean deserter who brings K-pop to his former homeland. “He must regain his ideological control over the youth if he does not want to lose the foundations for the future of his family’s dynastic rule.”
This is not the first time Kim has repressed so-called anti-socialist tendencies.
Last April, the mushroom-haired dictator unequivocally outlawed mullets and skinny jeans in an attempt to cut off Western-style “decadent” fashion trends.