Pyongyang, North Korea.
North Korea (officially the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) is the most hermetic nation in the world, the most inhospitable, and therefore the least known. In recent days, from Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, a new law was reported that will seek to eradicate any type of foreign influence on the population (more than 27 million people).
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The Kim dynasty, first with Kim Il-sung, in 1948, with the creation or division of the Korean Peninsula into north and south, passing through Kim Jong-il and now with Kin Jong-un, has implanted in North Korea a regime not only authoritarian in the political and economic, but also in the cultural.
The new law could punish anyone caught with movies, clothing, or even using language or jargon outside of North Korea with death. The motives, although revealed by North Korean dissidents, are difficult to pin down, as a result of the lack of information from the peninsula.
According to reports, the supreme leader of North Korea, together with his entourage, would seek to eradicate the influence and fascination of the young population of the country by South Korea. One of the allusive phenomena would be K-Pop, a musical genre originating in that Asian nation, intended mainly for the adolescent population and young adults, among other aspects.
A North Korean dissident named Yoon Mi-so said that when he was 11 years old, he witnessed the execution of a man who was caught watching a South Korean movie. He relates that he was forced, together with his neighbors, to watch the man’s death. “If you didn’t, it was considered treason,” he told the BBC, now from Seoul, the South Korean capital, and a city that is home to more than 36,000 North Koreans who managed to flee the regime.
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“I have a very strong memory of the man who was blindfolded. I can still see his tears. It was traumatic for me. The blindfold was completely soaked by his crying. They put him on a stake, tied him up and then shot him,” he describes.
In North Korea access to internet networks is regulated. Television is state-owned and programming is chosen by the regime’s broadcasting and communications authorities. Nor is it allowed to leave the country without filters. North Korea survives, economically, through the smuggling of arms, raw materials and labor in countries of Central Asia and the Middle East, especially.
There are no social networks. They are blocked. Nor YouTube, much less South Korean propaganda, a country with which North Korea has waged an active and cold war since the 1950s, although there have been rapprochements in recent years.
Kim Jong-un, heir to power, and a graduate of Switzerland, considers foreign hairstyles, slang and customs “dangerous poisons.” Now, the law would sharpen the restrictions of a population mired in eternal silence and living below the poverty line.
Now, any North Korean who is caught, especially tuning in, alluding to or propagating content of South Korean, American or Japanese origin could face the death penalty. Lesser punishments could carry a prison term of 15 years in specialized fields.
On the political level, the project includes young youth thinking. Kim wrote a letter in recent weeks calling on youth ministry officials to “crack down on unpleasant, individualistic and anti-socialist behavior” among young people.
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The Daily NK, a Seoul-based digital media outlet, reported that three North Korean teenagers were sent to re-education camps for cutting their hair like K-pop idols. In addition to using the pants above the ankles, in information that, due to the complexity and secrecy, cannot be verified, for now.
The law would also include punishments, up to death, for parents whose children are problematic and they are unable to apply rigor. Also the head of a factory could receive punishments if a worker is discovered committing any of the mentioned offenses; this as a connection mechanism that involves and concerns the general population.
How do they manage to see foreign content?
For years, North Koreans have used USB sticks to share audiovisual content, such as series, music or movies. They have proliferated on a large scale in the country, describes a dissident, whose identity is not disclosed. These are easy to hide and are password protected. Even in the event of a sudden review by regime forces, they can be programmed so that this information is erased.
They are imported from neighboring China, through wagons and smuggled by some North Koreans who risk more than their lives.