Kim Jong-un Calls K-Pop A “Vicious Cancer”
Kim Jong-un has called K-pop a “vicious cancer” capable of corrupting young North Koreans’ “attire, hairstyles, speeches, behaviors,” The New York Times reports. Rodong Sinmun, the North Korean state-run newspaper, warns that the unchecked influence of South Korean pop culture — including movies, K-dramas, and K-pop videos — could cause the country to “crumble like a damp wall.”
“To Kim Jong-un, the cultural invasion from South Korea has gone beyond a tolerable level,” says Jiro Ishimaru, chief editor of Asia Press International, a website in Japan that monitors North Korea. “If this is left unchecked, he fears that his people might start considering the South an alternative Korea to replace the North.”
New laws enacted last December call for five to 15 years in labor camps for North Koreans who watch or possess South Korean entertainment; those who disseminate it face the death penalty. Even those who “speak, write, or sing in South Korean style” could face up to two years of hard labor. Computers, text messages, music players, and notebooks are searched, and people are encouraged to inform on others.
South Korean entertainment is now smuggled in on flash drives from China. “Young North Koreans think they owe nothing to Kim Jong-un,” says Jung Gwang-il, a defector from North Korea who runs a network that smuggles K-pop into the country. “He must reassert his ideological control on the young if he doesn’t want to lose the foundation for the future of his family’s dynastic rule.”