North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un criticized South Korean pop-culture, naming it a “vicious cancer,” and instituted harsher punishments for those caught consuming South Korean music or television.
According to The New York Times, North Korean state media has been attacking “anti-socialist” influences, especially K-pop music, tv, movies, and music videos, almost daily in recent months.
Kim Jong-un claimed the popularity of K-pop culture is corrupting the “attire, hairstyles, speech, behaviors” of North Koreans, and ordered the Southern influence to be stamped out.
Even though North and South Korea share the same language, South Korea has its own slang and idiosyncrasies, which could identify those North Koreans who are consuming K-pop. For example, South Korean women might call their boyfriends “oppa” (a term of endearment like “babe” or “hon”), while North Korean women are supposed to use “comrade.”
South Korean pop-culture is internationally popular right now, with the rise of K-beauty as well as the K-pop music industry. However, smuggling South Korean entertainment into North Korea is nothing new. While it used to be VHS cassettes and CDs, it’s now flash drives.
To stem the tide of cultural invasion, Communist North Korea instituted a new law last December: Anyone caught viewing or possessing K-pop entertainment will be sentenced to 15 years in a labor camp. (The previous sentence was five years hard labor.) Those who are caught smuggling the music and tv in could ultimately face the death penalty.
Additionally, those North Koreans who are caught speaking, writing, or singing “in South Korean style” will suffer two years of hard labor. Families of the guilty parties could be expelled from their cities. The Communist state will search computers, text messages, and even notebooks for South Korean content and vocabulary.